Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cases of words chosen with the utmost care

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OTTAWA -- "We would have a cup of coffee, I think, once or twice," former prime minister Brian Mulroney told a 1996 deposition of his relationship with German businessman Karlheinz Schreiber.

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman," U.S. President Bill Clinton famously told reporters in 1998 about his dalliance with a White House intern.

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Neither answer was necessary false, but both left out key information -- Clinton had other kinds of intimate relations with Monica Lewinsky, and Mulroney received cash-stuffed envelopes in a business arrangement with Schreiber during those casual meetings.

Similarly, the Senate expenses scandal has become a study in carefully chosen words and information left unsaid. The government has disclosed precious little detail about the $90,000 payment made to Sen. Mike Duffy by Nigel Wright, the prime minister's former chief of staff.

Monday offered a fresh example: After insisting for months that his chief of staff resigned in May over the controversy, Stephen Harper himself told radio station News 95.7 Halifax that Wright was "dismissed" for writing the cheque.

"I had a chief of staff who made an inappropriate payment to Mr. Duffy -- he was dismissed," Harper said in the interview.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 29, 2013 A3

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