A group opposing Surrey’s transition to a municipal police force plans to file a code of conduct complaint against the city’s mayor, who is also facing a criminal charge of public mischief.
Surrey Police Vote spokesperson Bill Tieleman said the group is making the complaint because of Mayor Doug McCallum‘s refusal to step aside or recuse himself from police matters while his case is before the court.
“We’ve seen in the past that the mayor of Port Moody was charged with a serious criminal offence, and he voluntarily removed himself from chairing the police board in that city,” he said.
“Why hasn’t Mayor McCallum done the same thing?”
Surrey’s ethics commissioner has authority to investigate complaints against mayor and council and recommend discipline.
McCallum has declined to comment on the charge, which stems from his claims about an altercation with volunteers from the Keep the RCMP in Surrey campaign outside a Save-On-Foods on Sept. 4.
In an interview with Global News two days later, he claimed a woman with the group “clipped my knee and my bottom leg and ran over my foot at the same time and then took off.”
Prosecutors announced a charge of public mischief in the case on Friday. Global News’ interview has become evidence in the case.
On Sunday, former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts weighed in, saying it puts city council in a “difficult position.”
“The sooner it gets resolved the better.”
Watts said McCallum is entitled to due process and is innocent until proven guilty, but that it’s also important to remember the charges were laid by a special prosecutor, not the Surrey RCMP.
“We have to be really clear about that. We don’t want to muddy waters that this is a vindictive charge because of the transition of the police service. That’s not correct,” she said.
“The special prosecutor reviewed all the evidence, and I would expect there would be video, (that) there were witnesses that were interviewed. All of that goes to the Crown, and the special prosecutor would review and say, ‘Yes, there is enough evidence for a charge or no there isn’t.'”
Watts also touched on controversy over who will pay the mayor’s legal fees, saying if he is convicted, he should pay them himself.
McCallum has hired high-profile lawyer Richard Peck, who has represented Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
His office would not confirm who was paying for the defence, instead sending Global News a link to Surrey’s indemnification bylaw, under which city officials’ legal fees are covered if they are incurred while doing city business.
McCallum had told Global News he’d been shopping at the Save-On-Foods at the time.