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Councillor: Will funds from the public purse go toward mayor’s defence on public mischief charge?

Click to play video: 'Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum charged with public mischief' Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum charged with public mischief
An investigation that began with the mayor of Surrey's complaint to RCMP has culminated with Doug McCallum being criminally charged and accused of making a false statement to police. Catherine Urquhart has more on the allegation, the mayor's reaction, and the calls for his resignation – Dec 10, 2021

A Surrey city councillor says she wants answers about whether taxpayers will be paying for the mayor’s legal costs, as he faces a charge of public mischief.

The BC Prosecution Service announced the charge against Mayor Doug McCallum on Friday. It relates to an incident in September when he claimed his foot was run over during an altercation with opponents of the city’s police transition.

The mayor has declined to comment on the charge.

Read more: Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum charged with public mischief over claims his foot was run over

On Saturday, Surrey Coun. Linda Annis said she wanted to know who would be paying for McCallum’s legal representation.

“I hope Mayor McCallum is paying his own legal bill. This wasn’t done on [the city’s time]. He was going grocery shopping on his personal time. He’s responsible in my opinion for his own legal bills.”
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McCallum’s office would not confirm whether the city would cover the cost of the mayor’s legal defence. Instead a link to the City of Surrey’s Indemnification Bylaw was sent Global News.

According to the bylaw, “The city will indemnify its municipal officials against payment of amounts required or incurred to defend an action, prosecution or claim brought against a municipal official in connection with the exercise or intended exercise of the person’s powers or the performance or intended performance of the person’s duties or functions including satisfaction of a judgment, award or penalty imposed in relation to the foregoing.”

It applies to all city employees, officers and council members.

Click to play video: 'Surrey mayor to continue role as chair of police board' Surrey mayor to continue role as chair of police board
Surrey mayor to continue role as chair of police board – Dec 10, 2021

McCallum has hired high-profile lawyer Richard Peck, QC, who represented Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou during her extradition hearings.

“We have no idea what it’s going to cost. This could go on for months, it could go on for years. And we know the lawyer he’s hired is a very expensive lawyer, and that’s deeply concerning,” Annis said.

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The altercation took place on Sept. 4, outside a Save-On-Foods in Surrey.

Read more: No comment from Surrey mayor on RCMP mischief investigation

In an interview with Global News on Sept. 6, 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 was elected in 2018 on a pledge to replace the Surrey RCMP with a municipal police force. He is currently the chair of the new Surrey Police Board.

“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.

Click to play video: 'Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum facing public mischief investigation' Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum facing public mischief investigation
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum facing public mischief investigation – Oct 14, 2021

Later that month, the BC Prosecution Service announced it had hired a special prosecutor to look into the matter. Shortly afterward, the RCMP served a production order on Global News to obtain the video of the interview.

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According to the Criminal Code of Canada, public mischief involves “making a false statement that accuses some other person of having committed an offence.”

Read more: Surrey, B.C. mayor says he was ‘assaulted and run over’ at pro-RCMP petition event

Since the charge was announced, McCallum has faced calls to resign from some councillors. The Surrey Police Board has indicated that the mayor will remain the chair of the body.

Annis said she doesn’t believe McCallum should resign but said he should step aside while the matter is adjudicated.

“The mayor should step aside — take a leave of absence until the due process is done,” she said.

“Everyone is entitled to a fair day in court. I’m not asking yet for the mayor to resign but I am asking him to step aside as mayor, take a leave of absence. And he also needs to do so with the Surrey Police Board.”

McCallum is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Jan. 25, 2022.

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