Documents obtained by the Saanich News appear to show that incumbent Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell has served as a director of the Capital Regional Municipal Amalgamation Society. This information appears to contradict claims that a lawyer representing Atwell has made in a cease-and-desist letter against his mayoral rival, Coun. Fred Haynes.
“To be clear, Mayor Atwell is not now or has he ever been a director of Amalgamation Yes or any related society or organization,” said Robin Gage of Arvay Finlay, in a letter dated Sept. 7, 2018.
But documents dated Sept. 11, 2018 from the B.C. Registry Services show Atwell as a director of the Capital Region Municipal Amalgamation Society as of June 15, 2013. The society incorporated on April 5, 2013 and held a general meeting on June 15, 2013. (According to B.C. Registry Services, this information is current as of Aug. 2018).
Records from that meeting also show that society members elected Atwell for two years to the nominating committee, along with Karen Harper and Gregg Meiklejohn.
In short, the information appears to contradict Atwell’s claim (as represented by his lawyer) that “not now nor has he ever been a director of Amalgamation Yes or any related society or organization.”
This legal dispute between two of the candidates competing to lead the largest municipality on Vancouver Island little more than a month before the Oct. 20 municipal election stems from campaign material that the Haynes’ campaign has distributed.
Specifically, it reads that “[unlike] Richard Atwell, I have never been a director of Amalgamation Yes. I have an open mind.”
In letter responding to the cease-and-desist letter, Haynes said based on the available information, “it is the Haynes’ [campaign] position that the information is not false and misleading.”
Haynes said in an interview that he researched Atwell’s association with Amalgamation Yes prior to publishing his campaign material.
“It’s a mistake in the registry,” said Atwell. “You can get confirmation from all the past chairs of the society,” he said.
When asked when the mistake was discovered and why it has not been fixed yet, Atwell said “[I] didn’t know it was there until you pointed it out.”
Earle Anthony, a founding member and secretary of Amalgamation Yes, said he as far as he knew Atwell never served as a director nor was he ever elected.
While Anthony acknowledged Atwell’s name on the registry document, he does not know how Atwell ended up on the document dated April 5. Sometime after June 15, when the members elected a board, a mistake must have been in transmitting the names to the registry, he said. The group’s lawyer would be able to answer that question, he said.
Three former chairs of Amalgamation Yes also issued statements dated Sept. 6 also denied that Atwell had served as a director.
Editor’s Note: This story is updated to reflect that Atwell’s name appears as one of several directors.