An arrest warrant is being issued for a Halifax man who skirted child support payments of more than $500,000, fled the country to Europe, was deported and is now refusing to tell the court where he is hiding.
A Nova Scotia Supreme Court family division judge found Joseph Power in contempt of court on Friday for not revealing his location. He was also fined $10,000 and sentenced to 60 days in jail.
Justice Carole Beaton told the court that ignoring Power’s refusal to comply would be “the beginning of the crumbling of the underpinnings of democratic institutions.”
“The penalty is to deter Mr. Power and deter the public,” Beaton said in court.
Power was previously found in contempt and an arrest warrant was issued in October 2015 for failing to appear in court. Beaton said the new warrant will be “backed in any other jurisdiction in Canada.”
Father’s Day message
His ex-wife, Angela Power, was pleased to see the court taking action. To date, she is owed $507,279.38 in child support payments, plus interest.
“I haven’t been receiving any money from Mr. Power, so the number is just sort of abstract to me at this point,” said Power.
She said she hopes other parents will learn from her family’s turmoil.
“It’s Father’s Day this weekend, and I hope that all of the fathers — and the mothers out there — that are owing child support to their children can understand that this money is your child’s right,” she said.
Joseph Power was living in Denmark with his current wife and son in recent years.
In 2017, Power told CBC News he had no intention of moving his family back to Canada because he knew he would end up in jail. In an email to CBC on March 19, 2019, Power said he was homeless with no identification or passport.
“Deportation has already happened. My wife and son are gone from DK. I am as well but we are thousands of KM apart,” he wrote in an email.
Power would not disclose his location to CBC, nor would he say where his current wife and son were. He insisted his current wife didn’t even know where he was staying.
When speaking to the court by phone on Friday, Power refused to say where he was located. He argued that by disclosing that information, his 12-year-old son’s safety would be in jeopardy.
“I don’t believe that I can follow an order that will put him at risk,” Power said.
In her decision, Beaton said no evidence was provided by Power that proved a child was at risk.
The increased efforts to detain Joseph Power coincide with an ongoing lawsuit his ex-wife has launched against the province.
Angela Power alleges the maintenance enforcement program (MEP) did not enforce orders in a timely manner and failed to consider the impact on her children. MEP is a free service by the Nova Scotia Justice Department that enforces court-ordered spousal and child support.
None of the allegations has been tested in court.
While Joseph Power consistently made monthly payments of $700 for eight years, he fell into arrears after the court increased his payments to $3,242 per month in 2013 when it was learned that he had a higher income than reported. Those monthly fees have since dropped to $2,082.
The lawsuit also cites accusations of being treated unfairly when Angela Power was kicked out of the program in March 2014. A report by the provincial ombudsman stated the decision to expel Power was made in an “unbalanced and therefore unfair manner.” She was eventually allowed back into the program.