Saskatchewan’s top court dismisses priest’s extradition appeal
A retired priest has had his extradition appeal dismissed by a three-judge panel in Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal.
Father Robert MacKenzie, aged 87 according to the court decision, faces physical and sexual assault charges related to his time at two Catholic day schools in Scotland between the 1950s and 1980s.
MacKenzie immigrated to Canada in 1988, and primarily lived in the Regina area.
MacKenzie maintains his innocence, and the Archdiocese of Regina said they never received a complaint against MacKenzie during his time in Saskatchewan.
On March 22, 2019, Canada’s attorney general, David Lametti, issued a surrender order for MacKenzie so he could be extradited to Scotland to face his charges.
MacKenzie attempted to appeal the surrender order, citing his advanced age and deteriorating health.
In a written decision, dated Jan. 3, Chief Justice Robert Richards, along with Justices Brian Barrington-Foote and Jeffery Kalmakoff, found no error in the surrender order, dismissing MacKenzie’s appeal. The judges were satisfied MacKenzie’s medical needs could be fulfilled while in transit and in Scotland.
They found MacKenzie’s appeal was based solely on his health concerns, and offered no suggestion that the attorney general erred in carrying out the law.
In a written submission, Lametti said that he weighed MacKenzie’s health concerns against “the serious nature of the offences alleged against him and the need to ensure respect for the law and Canada’s international obligations.”
Lametti added that MacKenzie can challenge the prosecution as unfair given the length of time between the alleged offences and the beginning of court proceedings.
MacKenzie joined the Archdiocese of Regina in 1988 and retired in 2002.
According to MacKenzie’s lawyer, Alan McIntyre, he is unsure what the next steps will be. He said MacKenzie has been in hospital since Sunday and is in poor health.
If MacKenzie wants to challenge the Appeal Court’s decision, he has until Feb. 3 to submit an application to the Supreme Court of Canada, according to Canada’s Department of Justice.