Surrey city hall. (File photo)

Surrey council gets into row over policing transition as frustration boils over

‘You are not a very good example of a mayor,’ Pettigrew tells McCallum

Harsh words were exchanged at Monday night’s Surrey council meeting, leading three councillors to apologize after tempers boiled over during debate on Councillor Brenda Locke’s motion that called for Surrey’s policing transition to go to a referendum.

Last month, Locke lodged a complaint with the Minister of Municipal Affairs against Mayor Doug McCallum after he denied a previous motion of hers that also called for a referendum on the transition to the Surrey Police Service from the Surrey RCMP. On Monday, McCallum denied her latest attempt, deeming it out of order.

“The legal opinion is, I cannot read it out because it’s privileged and confidential, but I am going to rule her motion for a request for a provincially directed referendum regarding Surrey police services out of order based on that legal opinion that I got back.”

Locke challenged the chair. “I will call for a vote,” McCallum replied. “Those that support the mayor, those that do not support the mayor.” The Safe Surrey Coalition majority then defeated the challenge on a five-to-four vote. Then on a point of privilege Locke tried to have the legal opinion challenged. “I’ve ruled it out of order,” McCallum replied.

The fireworks began after Locke’s second motion, calling on Chief Constable Norm Lipinski of the Surrey Police Service to report at all council meetings “outlining the actions, plans and financials” of the Surrey Police Service. This too was defeated by the SSC, on a five-to-four vote.

“Not supporting this, not supporting a referendum, to me is just saying to the public that their voices don’t matter and they will not be heard,” Locke said.

Councillor Allison Patton said the “minority” on council is spending a majority of their time on the policing issue “when it is not under our purveyance.

“I’m getting a lot of feedback that because of this focus there is some lacking in skill set and focus in terms of attention to other matters,” Patton said. “I really don’t understand this never-ending focus on something that really isn’t any of our business and I’m highly concerned about the number of individuals that are not feeling well served by our council. We need to keep our focus on the things that matter that are not just the police because that is just one small segment.”

Patton asked her fellow council members “to not forget their role as a councillor in these times.”

“There’s more to it than putting your nose where it doesn’t belong,” she said, “in the sense that us as councillors are not meant to be overseeing the Surrey Police Service.”

READ ALSO: Surrey councillor trying to get policing referendum on the table, again

READ ALSO: Surrey councillor lodging complaint against mayor

Councillor Jack Hundial replied that “if there’s an actual accusation of someone not doing their job I’d like to actually hear it laid out as opposed to the innuendos around it.” Patton’s comments, he said, are “a little almost offensive.”

Locke took umbrage with Patton’s remarks.

“There is no one on this council that should be telling another councillor not to put their nose in where it doesn’t belong. It’s not your affair to do that anyway, and that is highly inappropriate, highly inappropriate language in this setting and I do take offence to that. I absolutely take offence to that.”

Councillor Doug Elford said he wouldn’t support having the police chief report before council.

“Driving the police chief up every month for a Spanish Inquisition is something that – we have a police board, this is why we established the SPS,” he said. “Why some of these councillors resist this process going forward behooves me.”

“To me it’s getting tiresome,” he said. “I mean it’s the third referendum motion we’ve had to address. At what point in time do we introduce a motion not to have a referendum motion? I’m a little frustrated by this.”

Councillor Steven Pettigrew then got into it with McCallum, saying he, as an elected official, has an opinion to express and “please don’t start attacking me.”

McCallum suggested he take time to read reports related to the issue. “The reports are there, publicly.”

“To continually bring these type of things up is in fact wasting council’s time and also wasting a lot of energy,” McCallum said.

At one point, McCallum shut Locke down, saying she was straying from the topic. Pettigrew on a point of order came to her defence. “This is typical approach that you do, you attack us,” he said. “I’m challenging the chair, I’m challenging your decision.

“It’s unfair for you to use your position to attack us and then not allow us to respond,” Pettigrew said. “Don’t start laughing at me, how dare you?”

“You are not a very good example of a mayor,” Pettigrew told McCallum.

“I rest my case on your comments,” the mayor replied.

Locke reiterated she finds it “incredibly offensive and actually very unethical for some of the comments that have happened here today.”

Elford’s Spanish Inquisition comment, she said, was a “ridiculous statement.”

Patton, Elford and Pettigrew later apologized for their outbursts.

Elford said the Spanish Inquisition comment “was not what I meant, and I just want to apologize for that right now.”

Patton also apologized “to my two colleagues who have taken highly offence to what I said and anyone else on council who took offence. That was not my intent, was to offend.”

Pettigrew said “in line of all the other councillors, I’m also going to offer up my apology for anybody I’ve offended.”

McCallum said “the frustration by a number of councillors I share because the majority of this council voted to move ahead on this issue,” he said of the transition to the Surrey Police Service from the Surrey RCMP.

“We should be moving ahead and working to make sure the transition works smoothly and work to solving some of the problems in the transition rather than constantly going back and notice after motion after notice after motion coming forward on the same item, that’s not for a council to be doing anywhere in Canada.”

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

City CouncilCity of Surreymunicipal politicsPolice

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

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Fraser Health held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey, which would be in what the BCCDC refers to as the Panorama community, on Friday, May 7, 2021. Roughly 400 people pre-registered to get their vaccine the week before. (Photo: Lauren Collins
Surrey communities recording more COVID-19 cases also seeing lower vaccination rates

Those same communities were highlighted in the SPEAK survey, which highlighted disparities in the city

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

The College of Massage Therapists of B.C. says Van (William) Dinh, a registered massage therapist in Surrey and Langley, has had his licence suspended while an inquiry committee panel investigates allegations of sexual misconduct. (Unsplash photo)
Surrey massage therapist suspended amid sexual misconduct investigation

CMTBC received complaint Van (William) Dinh allegedly exposed ‘sensitive areas of the patient’s body’

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read