Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has been charged with public mischief in relation to his claim that someone ran over his foot amid an altercation with opponents of the city’s police transition.
The incident was alleged to have happened Sept. 4 in the parking lot of a Save-On-Foods in South Surrey. The mayor claimed he was “verbally assaulted” and hit by a car.
In an interview with Global News two days later, McCallum alleged he had been struck by a car driven by a woman canvassing for signatures for the group Keep the RCMP in Surrey.
McCallum had been elected in 2018 on a platform to transition Surrey to a municipal police force. Twenty-nine officers of the new Surrey Police Service began active duty last week.
“As she pulled out, she clipped my knee and my bottom leg and ran over my foot at the same time and then took off,” he said in the interview.
The mayor told Global News he finished his shopping, then went to Peace Arch Hospital, where he said he was X-rayed and told the soft tissue in his foot was “very badly bruised.”
On Sept. 20, the BC Prosecution Service announced it had hired lawyer Richard Fowler as a special prosecutor to look into the case. The next day, the RCMP served a production order to Global News to obtain the video of that interview.
On Friday, the prosecution service announced that Fowler had approved a charge of public mischief against the mayor.
According to the Criminal Code of Canada, public mischief involves “making a false statement that accuses some other person of having committed an offence.”
McCallum, who also chairs the Surrey Police Board, has his first court appearance scheduled for Jan. 25, 2022.
In a response to a request for comment, his office would only say in an email, “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.”
The Surrey Police Board issued a statement Friday saying it was “aware of the legal situation” and that McCallum would remain board chair.
“Per the BC Police Act, the chair of the board must be the mayor of the municipality and has a non-voting role on the board, except in the case of a tie,” it said.
“While the Board is bound by the Police Act on this matter, it is important to stress the Board’s independence from the Chair of the Board. All Board Directors, excluding one municipal appointment and the mayor as chair, are appointed by the Provincial government.”
Speaking on CKNW’s The Jill Bennett Show Friday, Surrey Coun. Jack Hundial called for the mayor to resign.
“When you reach a certain point as an elected official, not only as the Mayor of Surrey but also the chair of the Surrey Police Board, I do not believe that he has the moral authority to govern any further and he needs to step down,” Hundial said.
Hundial said he expected the issue to be raised at Surrey’s next council meeting on Dec. 20.
The Surrey Police Vote campaign also called for McCallum’s resignation Friday, and said the mayor should recuse himself from any council discussions or votes on policing issues while his case was before the courts.
“Surrey Police Vote said at the time of this charges-related incident that Mayor McCallum was wrong to interfere and intimidate our Elections BC-authorized Initiative petition volunteers at Save-On Foods in Surrey by trying to have them removed,” campaign strategist Bill Tieleman said in a media release.
“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.”
There is currently no legal mechanism in B.C. to force an elected official charged or convicted of a crime to resign from office.