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Former Member of Parliament and Toronto mayoral candidate John Nunziata was charged with assault yesterday after his ex-wife's boyfriend claimed he was kicked by Mr. Nunziata, who today plans to pursue counter-charges.

The incident stems from Mr. Nunziata's 11-year-old son's hockey game at a Martin Grove hockey rink Friday night. Mr. Nunziata, who has joint custody of his children after his divorce from Caroline Brett last year, was standing with his daughter, 14, who became "upset" about a comment made by either Ms. Brett or her boyfriend, Mr. Nunziata claims.

"So I approached him and said: 'You're upsetting my daughter, please stop,' " said Mr. Nunziata, 53. "He told me to fuck off and he pushed me. Then a bunch of people got in the middle, and that was the end of it."

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But yesterday, officers laid charges against Mr. Nunziata after his ex-wife's boyfriend, Murray Milthorpe, 48, went to police and claimed to have been kicked in the buttocks by Mr. Nunziata. Police photographed a bruise as evidence.

Mr. Nunziata denies the claim, saying he was facing Mr. Milthorpe during the dispute and couldn't have kicked him.

"I didn't kick him. I don't know how he got the bruise on his ass, but I mean, he deserves an ass-kicking, but I didn't give it to him," Mr. Nunziata said. "This is an abuse of the process. It's all about a vindictive ex-wife and her boyfriend."

Mr. Milthorpe declined to discuss details of the case yesterday.

"For the children, I would really not wish to comment," he said. "The person has been charged. There's witnesses that have seen it, and I think the court … will be able to divulge what happened."

After Mr. Milthorpe made his allegations to police yesterday, they phoned Mr. Nunziata, who soon turned himself in. He was charged with assault, and will appear in court Nov. 26. Today, he plans to visit with a justice of the peace to charge Mr. Milthorpe in the incident.

"He leaves me no alternative," Mr. Nunziata said. "The sad thing is my kids are stuck in the middle and have to suffer the consequences of all this."

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Mr. Nunziata was first elected to Parliament in 1984, representing a west Toronto riding for 16 years, and became part of the quartet of upstart Liberal MPs known as "the rat pack." He ran unsuccessfully for Toronto mayor against David Miller in 2003. Somewhat of a maverick, Mr. Nunziata voted against his own party's budget in 1996, and then ran and won his riding as an independent in the next election.

He now works as a consultant.

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