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Surrey mayor’s slate asks people if board of trade CEO should resign, and to sign petition

‘Our current political state in Surrey is such an embarrassment,’ Anita Huberman says
Safe Surrey Coalition social media post asking people to sign a petition and asking if Surrey Board of Trade president and CEO should resign. (Facebook image)

Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman says she’s lamenting the state of Surrey civic politics in response to a social media post from the Safe Surrey Coalition on Sunday that asks people to sign a petition under the question if she should resign for “being anti-SkyTrain and anti-job creation.”

“Our current political state in Surrey is such an embarrassment,” Huberman said.

She told the Now-Leader on Monday that’s she’s “never, never” heard, until now, of a civic slate in Canada launching such an attack on a president or CEO of a board of trade or commerce.

“I’m not anti-job or the board of trade is not anti-job,” Huberman said.

“I mean, it’s our job as an independent voice of business to say what is right, what is wrong, to always speak with facts of course from an economic context on different issues and we don’t always have to align with the current political government of the day.”

Huberman figures the SSC message, posted on the Safe Surrey Coalition’s Facebook page, came on the heels of her May 27 press release entitled “Surrey needs more than just SkyTrain,” issued following a same-day announcement from the provincial government that it is investing $2.4B in Metro Vancouver public transit improvements with Surrey-Langley SkyTrain and ‘electrification’ of bus fleet included in that.

READ ALSO: Surrey needs more than SkyTrain, board of trade says

READ ALSO ZYTARUK: Jabs lead to uppercuts as Surrey mayor, board of trade duke it out

Coun. Laurie Guerra, of the SSC, said Monday that before she was elected to council she attended 50 or more events hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade and “at that time” she thought it “did a good job supporting local businesses and hosting educational events.”

She noted the SSC campaigned on building more SkyTrain in Surrey as well as setting up a city police force to replace the Surrey RCMP, “both of which the CEO of the board of trade has come out in strong opposition to.”

She suggested the CEO “should refrain from being so partisan at the very least.

“I think the organization needs to take a good look at themselves and decide whether or not supporting businesses or politics is their mandate,” Guerra said.

Huberman replied she is “absolutely not” being partisan.

“All chambers of commerce, boards of trades including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce have every right to express a perspective on different issues whether or not it’s in alignment with the current political paradigm of the day,” Huberman said, “and us expressing a perspective which is based on research and facts related to our public safety infrastructure, related to transportation, is in accordance with our industry mandate and we are in alignment in being non-partisan.

“It is just shocking that we’ve done so much these past two years supporting businesses, especially during the pandemic,” Huberman added. “Very disappointing to hear a local politician say that about the Surrey Board of Trade.”

The SSC’s social media post reads “AGAINST SURREY SKYTRAIN” under Huberman’s photo.

“We’re not against SkyTrain, I’ve never said that,” Huberman insisted. “I said that SkyTrain is not the only solution for Surrey. We need a transportation system that connects people within Surrey, especially given our large geographic size, and SkyTrain is a very expensive solution to build all over Surrey.

As for the petition, Coun. Doug Elford, also of the SSC, said he’s “curious to see what kind of a reaction that we get to it.”

“From my personal observations, she is the CEO and leader of a very large and important business organization in Surrey that she has claimed is non-partisan, yet as the leader of this organization she has certainly displayed tendencies and commenting about, in a partisan way, about politics.”

Asked who the petition signatures will be forwarded to, for consideration, Elford replied, “That’s a good question, I can’t answer that.”

Meantime, a second salvo against Huberman was posted Monday on Safe Surrey Coalition’s Facebook page claiming she “does not want what is best for Surrey.”

A second post on the Safe Surrey Coalition’s Facebook page aimed at Anita Huberman. (Facebook image)

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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