Surrey council divided amid calls for Mayor Doug McCallum to resign

·3 min read
Monday's public meeting, pictured in this video screenshot, was cut short after members of the audience became vocal in calling on Mayor Doug McCallum to resign.  (Jack Hundial/Twitter - image credit)
Monday's public meeting, pictured in this video screenshot, was cut short after members of the audience became vocal in calling on Mayor Doug McCallum to resign. (Jack Hundial/Twitter - image credit)

Surrey city councillors are divided in their support of Mayor Doug McCallum after a shouting crowd demanding for his resignation cut their Monday council meeting short.

Citing safety concerns, McCallum recessed the meeting only seven minutes in after two councillors asked him to resign and the audience supported their request.

While some councillors are calling on McCallum to resign until his disciplinary hearing in the fall, others remain in support of the mayor.

McCallum is set to go on trial on Oct. 31 for alleged public mischief over a police report he made last September. He accused a member of an advocacy group opposing the city's police transition of running over his foot with her car in a Save-On-Foods parking lot.

News reports of a recently unsealed but not publicly available search warrant claim the warrant says that video surveillance contradictions some of the mayor's allegations.

The video recording from Monday's meeting shows that two minutes into the council meeting, Coun. Brenda Locke demanded McCallum to take leave until his court date in light of the documents.

 

Locke will be running for mayor against McCallum in the 2022 municipal election, a little more than two weeks before McCallum's trial.

"At this stage I will not," McCallum responded.

Minutes later, Coun. Jack Hundial made a similar demand followed by applause from the audience, to which McCallum again responded he would not.

People in the audience could then be heard shouting.

After McCallum called for a 48-hour recess, councillors were escorted to their cars by RCMP.

The public meeting will resume on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

'A tense moment' 

"Utter chaos occurred," Coun. Linda Annis said to CBC.

Annis said the meeting ended out of concern for the safety of everyone in the room.

"It was quite a tense moment in the Council Chambers, we left very quickly."

Annis said McCallum's scandal has taken the spotlight in city council recently, distracting from other important matters.

She echoed Locke's and Hundial's calls on the mayor to step aside.

"Our single focus in the city right now is the mayor's bad behaviour ... he needs to step aside so that we can get on with business," said Annis.

'They basically incited it to happen'

Coun. Laurie Guerra accused the two councillors of instigating the rowdy scene at Monday's council meeting.

"They basically incited it to happen. How would the people know to show up?" Guerra said to CBC.

According to Guerra, many of the people in the audience were from the Keep the RCMP in Surrey advocacy group.

"It's politically motivated, it's from certain councillors that are running against the mayor and that's what they're doing. They're inciting these people to show up, to be disruptive ... I find it disgraceful," said Guerra.

Guerra said McCallum has been advised by his lawyers not to speak about his charges.

"People are innocent until they're proven guilty."

The situation has sparked calls for a municipal integrity commissioner that would have the power to investigate and remove elected officials for wrongdoing. Other provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, already have such a position.

B.C.'s minister of municipal affairs Nathan Cullen told The Early Edition he is willing to work with municipal leaders on this at the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual convention this fall.

McCallum declined to comment to CBC about the meeting and the calls for his resignation. He is due to deliver his 2022 State of the City address Wednesday morning.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting