Kirkland man upset town used his tax dollars to sue him

A Kirkland man, already unhappy with the municipality of Kirkland because of legal and financial issues relating to cross-connected pipes, said Tuesday that another level of government appears to be letting him down.

Kirkland used public funds to sue Sergei Brovkin for defamation

Sergei Brovkin was sued for defamation by the town of Kirkland and one of its councillors. He's upset because the town used public funds to pay for the lawsuits. (Shawn Apel/CBC)

A Kirkland man, already unhappy with the municipality of Kirkland because of legal and financial issues relating to cross-connected pipes, said Tuesday that another level of government appears to be letting him down.

"I am really really disappointed with the way these things are handled by the ministère," said Sergei Brovkin, referring to the Municipal Affairs Ministry. "Again, this is yet another body that is being paid through our tax money."

Brovkin's legal problems started in 2011, when he wrote on the Kirkland Citizen website about the cross-connections, and about statements from one councillor — ​André Allard — regarding how much it would cost for homeowners to repair the problem. The councillor and town of Kirkland sued Brovkin for defamation.

Brovkin spent thousands of dollars defending himself against the charge, and eventually judges at Quebec Superior Court and then at the Court of Appeal dismissed the case, vindicating him.

But Kirkland paid for the town's case against him, meaning he as a taxpayer funded the case against himself.

(Officials in Kirkland, including Allard, told CBC News they were not allowed to say how much they spent suing Brovkin.)

'Complex legal matter'

In November 2012, Brovkin asked the Municipal Affairs Ministry to look into town's decision, contending the councillor who initially felt defamed should have paid for the suit himself.

Brovkin is still waiting, hearing most recently from the ministry at the end of January.

"Mr Brovkin, our department is still processing your complaint," an email said, "due to a complex legal matter."

The ministry declined to comment to CBC News, instead referring to Article 604.6 of the Cities and Towns Act, which spells out when municipalities can cover the costs of a councillor's defence or representation.

For Brovkin, though, the issue is clear-cut.

"The persons who got me into this and got involved into this affair themselves should have paid all the expenses out of their pocket, not out of my pocket," he said.

Allard, for his part, maintained the town was right to sue Brovkin, but added, "If the same situation would repeat itself, we
would take a different approach, for sure."

A ministry spokesperson said she didn't know when a decision would be made on Kirkland's spending.

About the Author

Shawn Apel

Shawn is the host of CBC's provincewide, interactive radio program, Radio Noon.