N.W.T. judge quashes emergency protection order granted to man who says ex-girlfriend is abusive

The Yellowknife courthouse. An N.W.T. man is ineligible for an emergency protection order against his ex-girlfriend despite him saying she had been physically abusive toward him. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)
The Yellowknife courthouse. An N.W.T. man is ineligible for an emergency protection order against his ex-girlfriend despite him saying she had been physically abusive toward him. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)

A Northwest Territories man is not eligible for an emergency protection order against his ex-girlfriend despite him saying she had been physically abusive toward him more than once.

In a written decision released last week, Northwest Territories Chief Justice Shannon Smallwood found that the law under which emergency protection orders are issued only allows people in specific relationships to apply for the orders.

Emergency protection orders were created to give people immediate legal protection against family violence.

They are one of the few court orders that can be granted without hearing from the person the order applies to. The orders apply for a maximum of 90 days and typically require the person the order is taken out against to stay away from the person who applied for it.

But, under the Protection Against Family Violence Act, they're only available for protection against a spouse or former spouse, a person the applicant has lived with in an intimate relationship, or a person the applicant has a child with. Parents and grandparents can also apply for protection orders against their children or grandchildren.

In the decision, neither the man who applied for the order nor his girlfriend is identified by name. The man had been in a relationship with the woman for several months. The relationship ended when she became pregnant.

The man's application for an emergency protection order was granted by a justice of the peace in September. At that time the ex-girlfriend, who was not notified of the application, was eight months pregnant.

But all emergency protection orders are later reviewed by a Northwest Territories Supreme Court judge.

During that review, Justice Smallwood ordered a hearing on whether the man could apply for an order.

The man and the ex-girlfriend attended the hearing, where a territorial Justice Department lawyer argued that the man does not qualify because he is not among the categories of applicants permitted under the Protection Against Family Violence Act.

In her decision, Smallwood wrote that the only way the man would have qualified for an emergency protection order is if he and the ex-girlfriend were the parents of a child. Smallwood said there's nothing in the Protection Against Family Violence Act to suggest the meaning of "child" includes unborn children.

Smallwood said she informed the man that, if he still feels he needs an order, he could reapply once the child is born.