All Safe Surrey Coalition council members must ‘step up’ over ‘bad taste’ tweets, rivals say

Slate’s posts on social media in ‘bad taste,’ councillor says

Surrey City Councillor and former Mountie Jack Hundial argues that it’s not only Mayor Doug McCallum’s duty to vet the messaging that comes out of the Safe Surrey Coalition’s social media accounts, but all five Surrey council members connected to that civic slate also share that responsibility.

Hundial’s comments come on the heels of social media posts, since deleted, that accused the RCMP of murder. The post included a link to a news story about the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. recommending charges against five officers in the death of a Prince George man in 2017.

Asked if the RCMP is considering civil court action against the SSC, Staff Sergeant Janelle Shoihet, of RCMP “E” Division communications, replied to the Now-Leader by email that “the post was ill-informed and we are mindful the matter it referenced was and is, subject to independent investigation and assessment. We appreciate that the post has since been deleted and we are dealing directly with the Safe Surrey Coalition on the issue.”

Meantime, Hundial said Monday he’s “yet to hear someone come out and apologize.

“Secondly, what corrective actions have been taken to not have it happen again?”

McCallum told the Now-Leader on Saturday that an “unauthorized person” was to blame for his slate’s posting and subsequent deleting of social media posts that accused RCMP officers of murdering a man and covering it up by destroying evidence. The tweet and Facebook post were posted Friday (May 29) on the SSC social media accounts.

The posts stated, “Poorly trained RCMP murder a defenceless man and then delete video evidence to cover up their crime.”

“It’s not just the mayor, it’s all the members of the Safe Surrey Coalition, that need to step up,” Hundial said. “They have a duty, before it goes out – it’s not just the mayor’s responsibility, it’s every person. When you’re promoting it, when you’re on social media sharing and liking it, you have an obligation to ensure the information going out is correct and accurate, and really, these are the same police officers that are out there in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic risking their lives to keep all of us safe and when you start undercutting, or undermining, those emergency workers all around, it doesn’t bode well for anyone.”

McCallum told the Now-Leader that he doesn’t agree with the post and “can say that it won’t ever happen again. It was sent out by an unauthorized person.

“They recognized immediately that it was a mistake and they took it off within 15 minutes,” he said.

“We’ve corrected that and it won’t happen again. I have, and certainly Safe Surrey Coalition, have tremendous respect for the RCMP.”

Asked if he thinks it’s incumbent upon McCallum to reveal the identity of the “unauthorized person,” Hundial, who split with the SSC to form a new slate called Surrey Connect with fellow councillor Brenda Locke, said not necessarily.

“Well, no, I don’t think it’s incumbent upon the mayor to reveal who it is, but certainly to ensure that the messaging coming out follows really the guidelines of not only the Code of Conduct but also what’s acceptable for elected officials,” Hundial said. “You know, Delta had a homicide where the IIO was investigating Delta Police. You didn’t see the mayor come out and call Delta Police officers murderers, right? It does not fit the standard of what other communities put up with.”

READ ALSO: Surrey Council Code of Conduct gets final nod on five-yes, four-no vote

The Now-Leader reached out for comment Monday to the four Safe Surrey Coalition councillors.

“I asked them to take it down,” Councillor Doug Elford said. “We’re going to an SPD and we’re going to need these people, these good people to join us.

“Twitter is a sewer,” he remarked.

“We’re working towards not having that happen again.”

As for the mayor, Elford said, “basically he vets everything and so from now on we’re going to try and ensure that some tweets like that don’t happen again. I’m not in any position to offend the police officers, I respect them and I appreciate the work that they do and that’s my position.”

Councillor Laurie Guerra said she learned of the post after it had already been taken down.

“I am not on Twitter and by the time I was informed of the content of the tweet it had been removed,” she told the Now-Leader. “I thought it unacceptable. I also requested that the full post on all social media platforms be taken down.”

Councillor Allison replied by email. “I do not support the comments regarding the RCMP in Prince George,” she wrote.

Last month Surrey council gave final approval to a new Council Code of Conduct, with the SSC tilting the scale on a five-to-four vote. There is a section of this code that deals with council members’ use of social media.

Asked if this code extends from council members to their political slate, and activities on their slate’s social media accounts, Hundial replied, “Well, the members make up it. I mean McCallum is the leader of that slate. It’s no different than Surrey Connect, which is Brenda (Locke) and my slate. We’re members of that, so we’re responsible for what we put out and how we react to it, right?”

Does he think the code has been breached?

“That would have to be part of a complaint made I guess to the ethics commissioner. If there is a complaint, that is the logical place it should go. I think probably some time in the next month there should be an announcement for a fulltime position.”

READ ALSO: Safe Surrey under fire for ‘sickening’ social media posts accusing RCMP of murder

READ ALSO FOCUS: Former top cop thrusts McCallum’s rocky history with Surrey RCMP back in spotlight

Linda Annis, of the Surrey First slate, noted that “in any organization, the buck stops at the top.

“Ultimately the person that’s in charge of Safe Surrey Coalition is Doug McCallum, so the buck stops with him” she said. “He should be aware of what’s going out on his social media. If he didn’t know, he should have known.”

Does she think the Council Code of Conduct has been breached?

“In social media, we’re supposed to put on anything that we’re saying, that they’re our own opinion, and in my opinion I don’t think – and I would have to check – that the Safe Surrey Coalition says that,” she says. “It’s very strange and I think it’s very, very unfortunate and I’m embarrassed that that kind of messaging would be out there.

“There’s just no place in our world for those kinds of comments, and particularly when there’s been no charges laid. It’s false accusation.”

Annis remarked that “it’s all part of the agenda to convince people that we need to transition to the Surrey Police Department, and we know there’s more than 43,000 signatures now saying they want to keep the RCMP out here and if I have my facts correct, I believe there’s about 1,500 signs out there saying that they want to keep the RCMP.

“So clearly in Surrey people want to keep the RCMP, and I think that’s part of the strategy from Safe Surrey Coalition was to dig up stuff that isn’t necessarily valid about the RCMP,” Annis said. “When you look at their Facebook and their Twitter stuff, it’s all anti-RCMP and that’s not what a party should be based on. I think it’s just bad taste.”

– with files by Lauren Collins



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

City of Surreysurrey rcmp

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A past extreme weather response shelter set up for women inside Surrey’s Nightshift Street Ministries. (Photo: Chris Paul/nightshiftministries.org)
Homeless people in Surrey face ‘shocking and scary’ scenario this winter

Last winter there were nine Extreme Weather Response shelters in all of Surrey and White Rock. So far, during this pandemic, there are only five lined up for the coming winter

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
No new Surrey school COVID-19 exposures reported overnight

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

File photo
Surrey Mounties seeking dash-cam footage of Whalley road rage fight

Two men are alleged to have stabbed one another

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Fleetwood teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read