Township of Muskoka Lakes Council wants Councilor Ruth Nishikawa to pay up after a judge found her guilty of defaming former Councilor Ron Brent.
At Friday’s council meeting, Councilors voted 5-4 to resolve that Nishikawa should pay the Township’s $25,000 deductible on its insurance policy – instead of sticking the Township, and in turn, taxpayers, with the entire bill for the judgment against her. A judge previously ordered Nishikawa to pay $30,000 in damages plus court costs, but until now, it was believed Township insurance would cover the entire bill, less the $25,000 deductible the Township would have to pay.
All Councilors, including Nishikawa, voted on the resolution. Nishikawa voted to abstain on the matter. A vote to abstain is counted as a ‘no’ vote.
Councilors Harding, Currie and Kruckel also voted not to penalize Nishikawa.
Brent says he feels justified now on two fronts.
“I’m glad a judge agreed with me and now a majority of councilors have agreed that I was wronged and she should pay.” – Ron Brent
He adds he thinks the decision to first cover Nishikawa with Township insurance was mishandled and never even voted on by the previous council, giving her free rein to not have to apologize. Before taking her to court, Brent asked Nishikawa to apologize for sending a defamatory email to a private individual and Township and District Councilors. In the email, Nishikawa claimed Brent had divulged confidential closed session information.
“They [the past council and administration] should never have covered her in the first place. If she had thought she might be on the hook for money for damages, perhaps she would have simply apologized as I had asked,” continued Brent.
Brent says he will donate money received to Andy’s House Hospice.