The City of Surrey has not yet clarified whether or not taxpayers will be on the hook for Mayor Doug McCallum’s legal bills.
Special prosecutor Richard Fowler approved a charge of public mischief against McCallum on Friday, concerning “events that allegedly occurred” on Sept. 4 in South Surrey.
McCallum is to make his first court appearance in Surrey Provincial Court on Jan. 25.
Asked if the city was going to foot the bill for McCallum’s legal defence, the city emailed a link to section seven of Bylaw 15912. The section says, in part, that “the City will indemnify its Municipal Officials against payment of amounts required or incurred to defend an action, prosecution or claim brought against a Municipal Official in connection with the exercise or intended exercise of the person’s powers or the performance or intended performance of the person’s duties or functions including satisfaction of a judgment, award or penalty imposed in relation to the forgoing.”
The city has yet to respond to questions about how bylaw is being interpreted and who will pay for McCallum’s legal bills.
McCallum’s public mischief charge stems from a confrontation at the South Point Save-On-Food on Sept. 4. On Sept. 5, the mayor told media he was “run over by a vehicle” after speaking to a group of residents collecting signatures for a Surrey Police Vote Elections BC-approved petition. McCallum said he visited the Save-On-Foods to grocery shop.
“I was verbally assaulted and then run over by a vehicle while out grocery shopping yesterday,” McCallum’s statement said. “It is now under police investigation and I am doing okay.”
The mayor’s claim was immediately disputed by members of the Keep the RCMP in Surrey campaign.
In October, it was reported that the RCMP were investigating the mayor for public mischief related to his claim he was struck by a vehicle.
On Saturday, Coun. Linda Annis said she was still waiting for a clear answer from city hall as to whether or not taxpayers will be paying for the mayor’s legal costs.
“When you don’t get a straight answer to a straight question that usually means you’re not going to like the answer. He’s hired one of the country’s top lawyers and that means hundreds of dollars every hour,” Annis said.
“This entire embarrassing mess belongs to him personally, he brought it on himself so Surrey taxpayers shouldn’t be picking up his legal costs.”