It’s still eight months until British Columbians go to the polls for the next round of municipal elections, but Surrey’s incumbent mayor appears to be getting a head start on campaigning.
Glossy, four-page flyers promoting Doug McCallum and the four other councillors in his Safe Surrey Coalition have begun appearing in mailboxes across the city.
The literature lists a number of accomplishments the slate claims credit for, including the new Surrey Police Service, a SkyTrain extension to Langley, a new biofuel facility and a UBC campus coming to Surrey.
“I can’t believe we are talking about this in February, but this is a trend we have seen in politics at other levels: what was termed in the U.S. a couple of decades ago as the ‘permanent campaign,’ and that is now starting to filter down to municipal politics in Canada,” University of the Fraser Valley associate professor of political science Hamish Telford said.
“You have to start your campaign ever earlier in order to capture people’s attention, raise the funds you need. And social media, I think, feeds that permanent campaign.”
That said, the flyers appeared to be good strategy, according to Telford, who said McCallum could benefit from getting out early and putting the focus on the issued he wants to campaign on.
Not included in the flyers, he noted, was the criminal charge of public mischief McCallum is currently facing in court.
That charge stems from allegations McCallum made in September that a member of the group opposing the city’s police transition had run over his foot outside a grocery store.
“So much hinges on the charges he is facing,” Telford said.
“Of course it’s a problem if he’s found guilty. I think anything short of a dismissal or acquittal represents a significant problem for him.”
Surrey Coun. Brenda Locke, who has announced her own plans to challenge McCallum for the mayor’s seat, alleged McCallum’s brochure was “not truthful,” and claimed credit for prior leaders’ accomplishments.
“The biofuel facility they tout (was) started by then-mayor (Linda) Hepner and her team, the UBC campus was actually started by mayor Dianne Watts and her team, and Dianne had worked very hard on that project,” she said.
“And then, you fast forward to today, and the SkyTrain project, and we know in watching this last budget the SkyTrain is still notional budget and it has not even passed treasury yet.”
While McCallum and his team appear to be hitting the hustings early, the 2022 campaign has yet to fully take shape with plenty of speculation about additional challengers.
Sitting Surrey Coun. Linda Annis and Surrey MP Sukh Dhaliwal have both suggested they could yet throw their hats in the ring.
Surrey’s municipal election will take place on October 15, 2022.