COLUMN: Safe Surrey Coalition increasingly divided

SCC is no longer safe for those with dissenting opinions, writes columnist Frank Bucholtz

The Safe Surrey Coalition is no longer safe for those with dissenting opinions, and it isn’t much of a coalition any more.

Coun. Brenda Locke left the coalition on Thursday (June 26), citing numerous actions by Mayor Doug McCallum. She is also seeking legal advice about comments McCallum made about her, when she expressed concern about how the size of the proposed Surrey Police force would affect Sophie’s Place, an agency which helps children who are victims of abuse.

She is the second of the seven councillors who were elected from the slate in October (along with McCallum), to depart. Coun. Steven Pettigrew left several weeks ago.

McCallum threatened Pettigrew with expulsion from the council chambers on Monday night (June 24), which may have been a last straw for Locke.

Locke’s departure is much more ominous for McCallum.

She was the only person voted onto to council, other than McCallum, with elected experience. Locke served a term in the B.C. legislature from 2001 to 2005 as part of the massive B.C. Liberal caucus elected under Premier Gordon Campbell.

Her experience has been very important on a council made of seven brand-new politicians. She has been reasonable and straightforward, and whether McCallum admits it or not, he needed her.

At the root of this split on council is McCallum’s approach to setting up a Surrey Police force.

A report was prepared for the solicitor general, but members of council had no input into it and only briefly saw it before it went off to Victoria.

There was no public consultation, and the community meetings after the report was prepared on policing were meaningless.

A recent press release states that 93 to 98 per cent of residents support the mayor’s initiative on policing. These numbers are based on questionnaires at the community meetings. The questions were designed to obtain that type of support, and McCallum’s claim about the “overwhelming support” is similar to claims made in places like China and North Korea.

The entire policing plan could easily go off the rails. Coun. Jack Hundial, a former RCMP officer who is still with the SSC, has significant problems with the transition report. If one more councillor changes his or her mind, McCallum will be on the losing end of a 5-4 vote.

One of the reasons that McCallum was elected is that he promised his coalition was a team of independents who agreed on a couple of major issues – notably a new Surrey Police force and scrapping LRT in favour of SkyTrain. When they started to show some independence, he balked. Despite the example from his predecessor, Surrey council is not a one-person show.

McCallum could soon join the ranks of other (former) mayors who have fought with their councils – and lost. It recently occurred in Nanaimo, and a decade ago there was an active council revolt (by an 8-1 margin) in Langley Township. Despite the bravado, mayors only have one vote at a council meeting. Without the support of a majority, their plans are doomed.

It’s not in McCallum’s nature to mend fences, and it seems he is determined to forge ahead on the police force without any meaningful input from council or the public.

He could end up powerless, and it could happen soon.

Frank Bucholtz writes Wednesdays for Peace Arch News, as well as at frankbucholtz.blogspot.ca – email frank.bucholtz@gmail.com

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

Just Posted

Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension faces potential delays due to COVID-19

Pandemic ‘adversely’ impacting TransLink’s finances; ‘much work’ required to approve next investment plan

SIMPSON: For real leadership amid crisis, look west of Scott Road

Delta council, under direction of Mayor George Harvie, defines leadership during pandemic

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at Peace Arch Park ‘oasis’

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Cloverdale businessman funds wells in Cambodia

Revive Washing in Clayton Heights donates three per cent of profits to charity

Cloverdale youth pastor’s sexual-assault sentencing delayed

Samuel Emerson due to return to Surrey Provincial Court in August

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

VIDEO: Police look for suspect seen tripping elderly woman in Burnaby

The elderly woman was walking near the SkyTrain station when she was randomly tripped

Chilliwack teachers, assistants concerned with lack of PPE guidelines ahead of school reopening

As schools get ready to open, many worry measures won’t be enough to protect students from COVID-19

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

Most Read