Crown says former B.C. mayor intentionally misled police with false allegations

SURREY, B.C. — A decision in the trial of former Surrey, B.C., mayor Doug McCallum comes down to his intention to mislead police by falsely accusing a woman to be suspected of committing offences against him, not whether she ran over his foot, a special prosecutor says.

Richard Fowler told a provincial court judge on Wednesday that Doug McCallum made it clear in his statement to police on Sept. 4, 2021, that he wanted to "go after" a woman he said targeted him with her vehicle in a grocery store parking lot.

McCallum was charged with public mischief last December.

In a videotaped statement already shown in court, McCallum told police he recognized the driver as Debi Johnstone and that she campaigned for a group called Keep the RCMP in Surrey, in opposition to his plan to bring in a municipal police force.

McCallum accused Johnstone of pinning him against his vehicle, running over hit foot and "flooring it" out of the lot. He also said she had a history of harassing him during council meetings and that he wanted police to investigate her for harassment.

“I really, on this one, want to go after her," McCallum tells a Mountie in the video.

McCallum used the word "pinned" 11 times during the 45-minute statement, Fowler said during his closing arguments to the court.

The trial heard the former mayor told police he did some grocery shopping before visiting an emergency room where he was told he had a soft tissue injury to his left foot.

Surveillance video of the store parking lot is inconclusive on whether McCallum's foot was run over because the area where he walks over to Johnstone's vehicle is concealed by some shrubs.

However, the video clearly shows Johnstone had not committed any of the offences McCallum suggested, Fowler said.

"He was, in my respectful submission, pinned by no one," he said.

"This is not a trial about whether or not Mr. McCallum's foot was run over," Fowler said. "This is a trial about whether or not Mr. McCallum intentionally made false statements to the police with the intention of causing(Ms.)Johnstone to be suspected of having committed offences she had not. If, in fact, Mr. McCallum's foot was run over, in my respectful submission he has intentionally exploited what was an obvious accident by deliberately characterizing it as something it was not.”

The Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt the elements of public mischief, Fowler said.

"You can be sure he made false statements. You can be sure he intended to mislead police. You can be sure he intended to cause (Debi) Johnstone to be suspected of having committed offences she did not. And you can be sure police commenced an investigation into his allegations."

Eric Gottardi, a defence lawyer for McCallum, said earlier Wednesday that his client should be acquitted of the public mischief charge because the Crown failed to prove he intended to mislead police by saying his foot was run over.

Gottardi said any embellishments in McCallum's statement to police were due to confusion following a frightening incident.

However, Fowler said McCallum's detailed description of Johnstone and the make and model of her convertible Mustang, his recording of her licence plate and his conversation with another pro-RCMP campaigner afterwards in the parking lot show he was not confused.

Johnstone has testified she swore at McCallum, yelled at him to resign, told him he had a scaly face and called him evil.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2022.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press