Parsing Hiz Honner’s untruthiness

The old "I was not totally truthful when I denied" is so much easier than saying "I lied".

Carolyn Grant

“I was not totally truthful when I denied the allegations I was having an extramarital affair,” said embattled Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell.

Let’s examine this statement, shall we? Because it is very well done. The old “I was not totally truthful when I denied”. It’s so much easier than saying “I lied”. Actually, it’s not easier. It’s six words longer, ten syllables more. Yet, a tidy statement just the same.

We have talked in the past, dear reader, about political apologies and non-apologies, and statements that seem determined to obfuscate. I believe the statement above may fall under the latter.

Shall I set the table for you?

Newly elected Mayor Atwell of Saanich, B.C., is in a bit of hot water stemming from an incident on December 3 in which police were called to a home for a domestic disturbance. The dwelling belonged to one of his campaign workers, with whom Hiz Honner denied having an affair. He simply said the worker’s partner did not want him there the evening in question. So, like a good guest, he left.

Atwell told the Times Colonist newspaper and CBC that “There were voices raised, and I decided it was time to get out of there and walk out, and that’s what I did. Unfortunately there was an altercation on the steps,” he said.

Note that, “unfortunately, there was an altercation”. Not, “I was involved in an altercation”, just, there was an altercation. He just happened to be there while that altercation took place, right there. In front of him. Or behind him.

The mayor said as he was exiting the house he was struck from behind, so he called 911 to ensure everyone’s safety. He’s conscientious like that. Safety first.

He said he decided not to press charges and considered the matter over. Saanich Police say no charges will be filed against anyone involved, and the file is closed.

Because, really, why would anyone be interested in what the Mayor was doing when an altercation involving police occurred right in front of him?

“Well, I guess it gives the impression that there’s something really going on and I’m hiding it from it,” he said.

It does give that impression. It’s most unfortunate.

“I’m new as a politician, I’m newly minted, I’m kind of naive I guess in my original belief that I thought I had a private life and this was just a very small private episode between three people.”

He’s new, people. New. Very new. Fell off the turnip truck just last week, I understand. That’s how new you’d have to be to believe that the press has no interest in the private lives of politicians.

So this poor, naive Mayor, who merely was not totally truthful about denying allegations — not lying — has now had his world-view shattered — shattered!

People are interested in his private life. People are interested period. Too interested. So interested that his computer may have been infiltrated with spyware.

At the same press conference last week where Atwell admitted the untruthiness (tm Stephen Colbert) of his denials, he also said city staff were instructed to place spyware on his computers and the Saanich police department has been harassing him. He wonders how the December 3 incident reached the press. I’m about to shatter his world-view further — the press has scanners.

The plot thickens.

The Saanich Police Chief says he hasn’t received any complaints from the Mayor.

In any event, the beginning of political neophyte Richard Atwell’s career has not been uneventful. But it has been entertaining. Stay tuned.

Carolyn Grant is Editor of the Kimberley Daily Bulletin