The brutal beating death of a young mother is behind a move by Manitoba to introduce legislation to make it easier for people to get protection orders.
Selena Keeper was denied an order against her former boyfriend in May — five months before he was charged with killing her.
The 20-year-old woman was found in critical condition outside a home last month. Police said she had been assaulted repeatedly inside the house. She was left outside and later taken to hospital, where she died.
Attorney General Gord Mackintosh says the Justice Department reviewed protection order legislation following Keeper's death and found more than half of applications are denied.
"We can find ways to strengthen protection orders," he said in an interview Monday. "We can make them easier to obtain and we can strengthen the orders themselves.
"We have to learn from tragedies in any way we can."
The government is hoping to introduce amendments to the legislation before the legislature rises in December. The legislation was last changed a decade ago, Mackintosh said.
But before making any changes, Manitoba is looking for feedback from people who have had experience applying for protection orders or helping someone else apply.
Consultations with police and community will help guide the amendments, particularly provisions related to issuing protection orders, he said.
"This is an area where we can learn from and we're going to move as soon as we can. We'll do our due diligence on the pros and cons and make sure we get this right."
Keeper told justice of the peace Debra Motuz in May that she was regularly beaten during a two-year relationship with Ray William Everett, the 20-year-old now facing second-degree murder charges. Keeper alleged he also beat her while she was pregnant with the couple's child.
"He would always kick me to the corners and try and kick my tummy. He would punch me. It was like an everyday routine," she said at the hearing.
The couple broke up last year, but Keeper was assaulted in December and police were called.
"I just remember waking up in the hospital with four stitches on my nose — a fractured nose, a bruised face and a concussion."
In April, Keeper alleged Everett slapped her across the face, prompting her to seek a protection order. The application was denied because Motuz found Keeper not to be in imminent danger.
A protection order is "only to be granted when serious and urgent circumstances indicate a need for prompt action to protect the victim," Motuz said.
Conservative critic Ian Wishart said the Opposition looks forward to seeing the proposed amendments.
"Our first gut reaction to it is there is a need for this," he said. "There has been a need for some time. Domestic violence is a big problem in Manitoba."