Councillor Dave Woods tells the Now-Leader he is resigning from Surrey First saying in a statement he “cannot support a team leader who doesn’t value or seek consultation of team members” after mayoral candidate Tom Gill indicated he supported a Canada-wide handgun ban.
Gill said he would support a federal handgun ban, when asked to comment on councillors in Montreal and Toronto calling for one to be implemented.
Gill told the Now-Leader Wednesday that he believes there is a place for long-guns for recreational guns and hunting, but that Surrey First is committed to “cracking down on handguns.”
“We’ve got a new team, and our perspective has changed and I think we want to be very bold in terms of out thoughtfulness,” he elaborated.
“We have consensus on the team that we need to take some very bold steps, particularly given some of the tragic events we’ve seen in Surrey recently that involved gangs and guns,” said Gill, noting an RCMP-commissioned report showed there were roughly 840,000 restricted or prohibited guns in Canada, which he said was almost double the 2005 figure.
“This is a huge, significant cultural change to have the discussion,” said Gill of a ban, adding he thinks minimum sentencing needs to be reviewed as well. “There’s no question that we need to look at ourselves as a country and the availability of guns, the licensing of guns, the safe-keeping of guns, the policing of guns, those are all significant issues.”
“We need to do things differently. It’s not just about hiring cops.”
But Woods says he opposes a handgun ban.
“It would impact law abiding handgun owners, such as hobby target shooters,” Woods wrote in his statement. “In my view, Canada’s handgun restrictions are very good; hence I do not support a wholesale legislation change. From my experience in law enforcement, thugs and gang members never/seldom have legal permits to possess handguns; therefore, such a wholesale ban would have little effect to decease gang violence in our community.”
Woods said he believes if there is a need for handgun regulation change or “enhancement,” recommendations should come from the Association of Canadian Police Chiefs.
“I stayed with Surrey First because I was assured there would be a new culture and attitude on the team, one of consultation and team input into decisions and the platform,” said Woods. I cannot support a team leader who doesn’t value or seek consultation of team members who have experience in areas where he does not. I have no confidence the movement towards a more open, collaborative, and transparent culture within the party will exist and, therefore, I will not be seeking re-election as a member of Surrey First.”
Asked if he would run with a different slate, as an independent, or at all in the upcoming Oct. 20 civic election, Woods said: “At this time I’m considering my options and am not prepared to make any statement.”
To Woods’ comments, Gill said “he has his own personal believes when it comes to handguns and licensing. He’s a cop and I think he has his own perspective.”
Gill said Surrey First met for three hours to discuss platform issues on Tuesday (Aug. 21), and came to consensus on the gun topic. Gill said Woods was invited to that meeting, but did not attend.
“It’s unfortunate Dave chose to make the decision he did,” Gill added.
Woods is the third Surrey First member to split from the party in recent months.
Councillor Bruce Hayne resigned in June, claiming his decision stemmed from a lack of transparency and a difference in “vision.” He has since announced he is running for mayor, with his Surrey Integrity Now slate.
Then, in mid-July, Councillor Barbara Steele jumped ship to run alongside Hayne and sit as an independent.
With Surrey First councillors Judy Villeneuve and Mary Martin announcing they are not seeking re-election that leaves incumbent councillors Mike Starchuk and Vera LeFranc on the Surrey First slate at this point.