Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has been charged with public mischief, with his first date in Surrey provincial court set for Jan. 25.
Special prosecutor Richard Fowler, QC, approved the charge after the RCMP investigated a complaint from McCallum concerning “events that allegedly occurred on Sept. 4 in Surrey.
McCallum could not be immediately reached for comment. City hall put out a written statement from McCallum that reads: “We are in the middle of changing from RCMP to the Surrey Police Service and as this matter is before the courts, I will not be making any comment.”
Coun. Brenda Locke, so far McCallum’s only confirmed rival for the mayors’ seat in the next civic election this coming October, is calling for his resignation.
“Mr. McCallum must do the honourable thing and resign as Mayor of the City of Surrey and Chair of the Surrey Police Service effective immediately,” she said.
McCallum has specifically been charged with one count of public mischief contrary to Section 140(2) of the Criminal Code, with the information sworn on Friday, Dec. 10.
A bizarre encounter between McCallum and petition signature campaigners outside the South Point Save-On Foods store in September resulted in the mayor claiming a car ran over hit foot and Coun. Allison Patton characterizing this as “attempted murder.”
Later in the month a special prosecutor was appointed to advise the RCMP in its investigation related to a complaint lodged by the mayor.
News broke in October that the RCMP was conducting an investigation into possible public mischief related to claims made by the mayor concerning his foot being run over.
Coun. Linda Annis told the Now-Leader she is “shocked” by the charge.
“I think it is a real setback for the city,” she said. “Politicians, you know, civic leaders should be honest and forthcoming.”
Asked if she thinks the mayor should resign, Annis replied, “I certainly think that we should let the courts do their due process. Although he’s been charged he has not yet been convicted. I do think that he should take a leave of absence until this is resolved.”
“Everyone is entitled to their day in court,” Annis said, “and we need to wait until a decision by a judge has been made either way. But certainly, through the process, I do think that he should step aside.”
Coun. Jack Hundial, a former Surrey Mountie, said he thinks it’s time for McCallum to step down from the Surrey Police Board, of which the mayor is chairman, “and also as mayor, it’s time for him to resign.
“Certainly if he does not step down from the police board immediately, the police board itself needs to ask for his resignation and if I was member of that police board I certainly wouldn’t want to tie my integrity to the chair of the police board,” Hundial added.
Coun. Doug Elford, of McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition said he’s “very reluctant” to comment on anything that is before the courts. “In Canada, you know, you’re innocent until proven guilty,” he said.
Sukhi Sandhu, organizer of Wake Up Surrey, a grassroots group trying to curb gang violence, called this recent development “just another layer of the dysfunction that has been going on for the last three, four years in our city.
City hall, he said, “has become a mess” and a “laughing stock.”
“It’s time for the silent majority to stand up and say ‘enough is enough,’” Sandhu said.
Coun. Laurie Guerra, also of the SSC, said Friday she “won’t be commenting now or ever on an ongoing investigation.
“I believe in the rule of law where people are innocent until proven guilty,” she said.
Last May, Cloverdale resident Darlene Bennett, whose husband Paul was murdered in a case of what police believe was mistaken identity in 2018, filed a petition with Elections BC seeking a binding referendum vote on whether the Surrey Police Service should replace the Surrey RCMP
In June, Elections BC gave Bennett’s application the go-ahead, requiring the campaign to submit a required number of petition signatures by Nov. 15. Not long after that, Locke threw her hat in the ring to compete against McCallum for the mayor’s chair in the 2022 civic election, and marked the occasion by vowing to slam the brakes on the policing transition if she is elected with a healthy backing on council.
Elections BC announced in November that Bennett’s initiative petition calling for a referendum had failed despite campaigners turning in 42,492 signatures – just 2,266 shy of the 45,564 votes McCallum received in the 2018 civic election.
On Friday, the group behind the campaign, Surrey Police Vote, also called on the mayor to step down from the police board and recuse himself from “any city council decisions or votes on policing issues” until the court renders its verdict.
“Mayor McCallum intentionally tried to stop our Initiative petition process on this and several other occasions, including sending by-laws officers to fine volunteers collecting signatures in public parks, because he is terrified at the prospect of a democratic referendum voting down the expensive and unnecessary Surrey Police Service,” campaign strategist Bill Tieleman said. “It’s time for the province to now listen to the 42,942 Surrey voters who signed our petition in just 90 days despite significant obstacles, and call a referendum on policing.”
Melissa Granum, executive director of the Surrey Police Board, issued a statement on behalf of the board Friday that in accordance with B.C.’s Police Act its chairman must be the mayor, who has a non-voting role except to break a tie. She said the board is independent from its chairman and that the Surrey Police Service “will continue to move forward, completing all requirements to become police of jurisdiction under the oversight of the independent civilian police board.
“The board cannot comment further on this matter,” the statement reads.