Editor’s Note: The following open letter to MV residents was submitted to all three Valley newspapers on Oct.3 by MV mayoral candidate Roger Prince. In his covering email, Prince said: “I was motivated to write this Letter to the Editor in response to being questioned at the recent All Candidate’s meeting about the figure I quoted for legal cost in the matter between The Current and The Township. As you will see from the Letter, this cost information is publicly available on the Township website. I feel it is important that the ratepayers, your readers, have these facts prior to the Oct 24 election in order to make an informed decision.”
An open letter to the residents of Madawaska Valley Township
Much has been said about the financial numbers associated with the legal proceedings between The Current and The Township. The following identifies reported costs published on the Township website and in the findings of the court.
The legal proceedings began in 2019. The October 19th, 2021, Township minutes detail a Report to Council outlining legal cost submissions to Wishart Law in these proceedings of $330,751.02.
The court ruled in favour of The Current. The Township appealed this decision and lost. The unsuccessful appeal has added further costs since the October 19th 2021 Report to Council.
The effect of the Township’s delaying actions has certainly frustrated Justice Doyle’s intent that “the public interest” be served. We will not know until after the municipal election in October, how much compensation will be paid in damages, thereby depriving voters of learning whether the current Council acted in the public interest, as opposed to their own interests. It will also add significantly to the amount that has already been paid to Wishart Law.
In addition, Wishart Law has been dismissed and a new firm hired to represent the Township. This will place an even greater cost burden on the Township as the new firm reviews all that has happened to date.
Last year’s Superior Court decision, upheld by the Court of Appeal, is a good point of reference in the unethical conduct of this current council. In reading the 47-page decision by the judge, Justice Doyle went so far as to state “I find that the plaintiffs have suffered more than minimal or nominal damages” Justice Doyle went on to say; “If the conduct of the public officials here is found to be particularly egregious, an award of aggravated or punitive damages may also be made”.
As the lawsuit originally commenced by The Current includes claims for aggravated or punitive damages, Justice Doyle is clearly signaling that the members of Council and MV Township are at risk in having to pay such damages.
The Mayor has said that all the legal costs have been paid by the Township’s insurer. However, insurance policies do not usually indemnify the insured against liability for intentional conduct as is the subject of this lawsuit. The Current has asked Wishart Law and the Insurer for an explanation, but to date they have not responded.
Regardless, the Township will likely be faced with a significant rate hike or a loss of coverage by the current carrier and a potential reversal of claims purportedly paid by the insurer, which would fall on the taxpayer.
In addition to the final settlement (to be determined), this has been a substantial waste of time, effort, and resources on the part of the Mayor, all Council members and Township staff.
Ultimately, the taxpayer will bear the burden of costs associated with a lawsuit pursued by this Council that could have been settled with an apology and a $500 donation to our local hospital.
Roger Prince, Barry’s Bay