The father, an Italian national, and the mother, a Canadian immigrant who was born in Italy, married in 1990 and resided in Italy during their marriage. They had two children, girls aged 2 and 7. The father and mother separated in 1998.
In December 1998, the mother brought the children to Canada. The father brought an application for return of the children. The judge at first instance held that the children had been wrongfully removed from Italy but ruled that returning the children would place them in an intolerable situation and expose them to a grave risk of psychological harm.
The father appealed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario.