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Legal bout postponed

New date unknown for conflict case

They were all but ready to put on their gloves and make their way to their respective corners of the legal boxing ring this week.

But with just two days to go before the opening bell was to ring, Gino and Mary Ruffolo learned their scheduled Feb. 28 bout with Mayor Linda Jackson in Newmarket court was postponed.

“It looks like mid-March (for a rescheduled court date), but I am waiting for an exact time and date,” Gino Ruffolo said in an email Tuesday.

The reason for postponing the court date was not known at press time.

The Ruffolos allege the mayor breached the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act at a closed-door council meeting in November by influencing council’s decision to launch a $395,000 lawsuit against them for breaching a 2006 settlement.

Jackson should not have participated in that meeting because she was before the court for legal action brought forward in June by Gino Ruffolo and Quintino Mastroguiseppe, the Ruffolos allege in the suit filed Dec. 27.

In June, Ruffolo and Mastroguiseppe asked the court for an audit into Jackson’s campaign finances after city council put off making a decision on the request.

They allege Jackson broke financial rules contained in the Municipal Elections Act more than 20 times.

Ontario Justice Lucia Favret ordered a compliance audit of Jackson’s 2006 campaign finances in her ruling last week.

The embattled mayor could face removal from office should an auditor uncover any egregious wrongdoing.

The Ruffolos have filed a statement of defence in the Nov. 20 breach of settlement suit Jackson allegedly pushed for, but their counter suit may prove to be all the defence they need.

If the conflict of interest suit against Jackson is successful, Ruffolo counsel Eric Gillespie says the basis of the city’s breach of settlement action would come into question.

Jackson’s lawyer, Andrew Jeanrie, said recently he was “a little bit surprised at the creativity they tried to apply here to finding the cause of action.”

The Ruffolos are seeking court costs and whatever other amount the court deems fair, in addition to wanting the mayor’s chair declared vacant.

Vaughan Today
Online: February 28, 2008 [link]