SURREY â€” Surrey-Whalley MLA Bruce Ralston is calling for local politician Marvin Hunt to resign both his Surrey council seat as well as his seat in the legislature.
"The huge debate is swirling in Surrey," he said, referring to discussions about what to do in Newton following the murder of 53-year-old hockey mom Julie Paskall. "He’s been completely absent from that debate."
Ralston said Hunt is uniquely placed as a member of city council and as the Surrey-Panorama MLA to contribute to the debate.
"Yet he’s said nothing. I don’t see why he’s continuing. He’s not doing anything," Ralston said, who is also a former Surrey councillor and lawyer.
"Is someone telling him not to say anything or is he under directions from someone not to say anything? I don’t know," he added.
Hunt has commented that it is wrong to politicize a community tragedy. To that, Ralston said everyone is speaking on the issue, pointing to Mayor Dianne Watts, Coun. Barinder Rasode, Surrey top cop Bill Fordy as well as the public.
"So that’s not an excuse I accept at all, that somehow because Julie Paskall was murdered that there shouldn’t be a continuing public debate that began before the murder, and continues now."
Ralston said Hunt should resign both his seats if he isn’t prepared to speak up. "Part of the job is to speak out on behalf of your constituents. Part of your job is to propose solutions and test them and see what the public has to say. And we only know that in democracy through participating in a public debate."
Hunt said he rejects the very premise of Ralston’s comments.
"To me, as a politician, I have always been focused on getting stuff done, not getting press… So to suddenly have thrown at me the criteria for being an effective politician is how many inches of quotes you get, I just find that startling. Absolutely startling," Hunt said, adding that he is doing his job the way he has always done it.
He’s been working with the RCMP, with parks and recreation staff and with the community associations, he said.
The city has been looking at lighting in the Newton core, cameras as well as co-ordinating with police to ensure 24/7 surveillance in the area, he added.
While Hunt is not accepting pay for his seat on council after being elected an MLA, he says he will do the job for free for as long as he is able.
In July, Hunt told the Now that he intended to resign come January, 2014 because at that time he could do so without triggering a byelection that would cost Surrey taxpayers an estimated $635,000. He has since changed his mind.
While his seat in legislature is top priority, he said as long as he can contribute, he will stay on Surrey council.
"Hey, I enjoy the job, I’ve got the history to be able to help my fellow councillors make good decisions. As long as I can contribute, I want to contribute," he said.
"It’s a real tragedy that in the midst of the terrible situation that happened in Newton, we somehow have politicians that want to make political hay out of this. I just don’t see that as being an appropriate response in any way, shape or form."