The Chamber of the NWT Legislative Assembly. Submitted photo
The Yellowknife YWCA is proposing a five-year ban on eligibility to become an MLA for anyone who’s been convicted of domestic violence or threats.
The proposal was introduced by Caroline Wawzonek, a lawyer and vice-president of the YWCA Yellowknife board, earlier this month to the legislative assembly’s standing committee on rules and procedures.
Caroline Wawzonek (courtesy of LinkedIn)
“Great interactive talk w #nwt @LegAssemblyNT rules committee on taking action & speaking out against #domesticviolence #nwtpoli @YWCAYK,” Wawzonek tweeted after the meeting.
Wawzonek told the committee that should they adopt the proposal, it would send the message from the legislative assembly that such behavior is not tolerated in the North.
Currently, candidates or MLAs who are convicted and imprisoned of a criminal offence are disqualified, but the legislation does not include offences that don’t result in jail time.
MLA NADLI CITED AS EXAMPLE
If the NWT had such a ban prior for the 2015 territorial election, Deh Cho MLA Michael Nadli likely wouldn’t have been eligible to run. In fact, Nadli was one of the reasons the YWCA took up the proposal.
Nadli plead guilty to assault causing bodily harm against his spouse last year after he was arrested in April. He was released from jail after serving only eight days of a 45-day sentence and was able launch a successful candidacy for the 2015 territorial election.
HIGH RATES OF VIOLENCE
The Northwest Territories had the highest rates of police-reported family violence in Canada in 2014, according to data from Statistics Canada.
In particular, the NWT had higher rates of police-reported violence against children and youth, violence against seniors and intimate partner violence than anywhere else in Canada.
In 2014, there was an average of 243 incidents of police-reported family violence per 100,000 people in Canada. By comparison, the Northwest Territories average was 1,897.