Muskoka Lakes Councillor Ruth Nishikawa facing $1 million defamation suit
A Muskoka Lakes Township councilor is suing one of his peers. Moose FM has obtained court documents showing Ron Brent is suing Councilor Ruth Nishikawa for one million dollars over comments she’s alleged to have made about him in an email. Brent’s statement of claim, filed by lawyer Michael Anne MacDonald, outlines the suit as seeking $500,000 in damages for defamation and $500,000 in damages for defamatory libel. The claim states Nishikawa wrote by email using her address firstname.lastname@example.org to Bala business woman Pat Arney and others, making defamatory comments towards Brent, alleging he told Arney comments that were made during closed session of council with the Town’s solicitor, which is in breach of the code of conduct of the Township of Muskoka Lakes.
Furthermore, the suit alleges Nishikawa defamed Brent by alleging that he “stormed out of the meeting, still in closed session with our solicitor” and that he “has declared a conflict of interest” on the matter which was under discussion for nearly two years.
Contacted yesterday, Brent tells the Moose his integrity and reputation as a councilor is important to him. He’s been in the community a long time and says he has made sure he has a good reputation – something he says he’ll “defend vigorously.”
Brent says he’s been accused of leaking information, but he adds that he doesn’t know what that information is, because he wasn’t there when the allegations were made.
In the statement of claim, MacDonald writes that Nishikawa’s email implied dishonesty and a financial self interest/motivation on Brent’s part. MacDonald states the comments were libelous and designed to slander and defame Brent in his role as councilor and public representative and in his personal life as a respected business person. MacDonald adds that despite being given the opportunity to retract and apologize, Nishikawa has refused to do so.
Moose FM has repeatedly contacted Nishikawa about the suit but she has not provided comment. Brent says he’s not suing for personal gain and that if he’s awarded any monies, he’ll donate it to the planned Port Carling Nursing Station. Interim Muskoka Lakes Township CAO Clayton Harris says the matter has been referred to the Town’s insurer for review should any costs fall to the municipality. To date, no costs have been incurred by the Township.