Coun. Fred Haynes (left) and Mayor Richard Atwell (right), here appearing with Nagasaki nuclear holocaust survivor and prisoner of war Rudi Hoenson in August 2017, will face each other Thursday during the first all-candidates’ forum to be held in Saanich. Black Press/File

Saanich mayoral candidates in middle of legal dispute prepare for first face off

Mayor Richard Atwell and Coun. Fred Haynes will be among four mayoral candidates Thursday’s forum

As candidates prepare for the first all-candidates forum Thursday, Mayor Richard Atwell says he has no plans to withdraw a cease-and-desist letter that his lawyer has sent to rival Coun. Fred Haynes.

“I think the letter speaks for itself,” said Atwell in an interview Sunday. “[Coun]. Haynes has not replied in over a week preferring to go to the media instead.”

Related: Saanich Mayor insists he never served as director of Amalgamation Yes

Haynes said his campaign stands by a document from the provincial registry that shows Atwell as one of 15 directors of the Capital Region Municipal Amalgamation Society as of June 15, 2013.

“It’s the public record and it speaks for itself,” said Haynes.

At issue is the question of Atwell’s association with Amalgamation Yes, a question that has caused a legal dispute between Atwell and Haynes as they are running against each other for the office of mayor. Also running for mayor are Rob Wickson and David Shebib.

Atwell’s lawyer Robin Gage sent a cease-and-desist letter dated Sept. 7 to Haynes, which asks Haynes to stop the distribution of campaign material considered false or misleading and “correct and retract” the false statement.

Related: Documents contradict Saanich Mayor Atwell in legal dispute with Fred Haynes

“To be clear, Mayor Atwell is not now nor has he ever been a director of Amalgamation Yes or any related society or organization,” Gage wrote.

“We remind you that is an offence to make false or misleading statements in election advertising, and reserve all of our rights in that regard,” she added later in challenging Haynes’ campaign literature, which in part makes the following claim:

“Unlike [Mayor] Richard Atwell, I have never been a director of Amalgamation Yes. I have an open mind.”

Atwell has said his name appears in the registry by mistake, adding that he is working to correct the error in that single record, which is out of sync with minutes and other filed documents.

“Dr. Haynes is the sole person, who believes I’m a director of that organization,” said Atwell. “That [says] something right there.”

This on-going legal dispute frames the first all-candidates forum to be held Thursday at the Arts Caliber Academy — the former Gordon Head United Church — at 4201 Tyndall Avenue.

Related: Saanich mayoral candidate says dispute between rival takes away from policy issues

Thursday’s forum sponsored by the Gordon Head Residents’ Association will be the first of currently seven scheduled events that will offer residents a chance to hear from candidates. Candiates will be on stage for two hours.

Running for the office of councillor are Benjamin Allan, Vernon Lord, Art Pollard, Shawn Newby, Rishi Sharma, Trevor Barry, Cory Montgomery, Ian Jessop, Kathleen Burton, Nathalie Chambers, Rebecca Mersereau, Ned Taylor, Zac de Vries and Teale Phelps-Bondaroff in challenging incumbents Colin Plant, Susan Brice, Judy Brownoff and Karen Harper.


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