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OUR VIEW: Respect must be restored inside Surrey’s City Hall

In council chambers, business should always be conducted with respect, dignity and professionalism
Surrey city council’s May 30 meeting did a figurative crash-and-burn out of the gate as Mayor Doug McCallum called for a recess after being heckled by the audience in chambers. (Twitter: Jack Hundial)

What happened on Monday, May 30 was a flat-out embarrassment to our city.

After Mayor Doug McCallum called a recess because people were heckling him to either step down while his public mischief charge plays out in court – or resign outright – the towel was ultimately thrown in an hour later and the meeting was adjourned and rescheduled to Wednesday, June 1.

Coun. Linda Annis says council has “hit rock bottom.” Coun. Laurie Guerra calls what happened Monday night “disgraceful.”

They are both right.

SEE ALSO: Surrey mayor says you need to have a ‘thick skin’ to be in politics

When things get this ugly and personal inside city hall, a place where business should always be conducted with respect, dignity and professionalism, we should hang our collective heads in shame.

Nobody should ever feel unsafe or threatened while trying to govern our great city.

“My husband is horrified and very worried,” Guerra said. “We had escorts to go out to our vehicles, this is disgraceful that it’s happening in our beautiful city.”

Disgraceful indeed.

SEE ALSO: Surrey council looking at reinstating virtual meetings

While nobody can argue McCallum and his mayorship was not centre-stage in Monday’s brouhaha, others played a role – a council whose dysfunction approaches the legendary, and an “agitated” crowd. Something had to give, and the dam broke on Monday.

But being agitated does not excuse the behaviour of residents hell-bent on taking McCallum down.

There is, after all, a proper way to do that – at the polls.

Canadian voters are typically a forgiving lot at the voting polls, until they are not.

A certain point gets reached where a reckoning occurs that leaves few political survivors behind.

Take the 1993 federal election, when Kim Campbell’s Tory government was crushed down to a mere two seats, the provincial NDP government’s near wipe-out in 2001, the collapse of B.C.’s Social Credit Party – which had dominated B.C. politics for four decades prior – within a year of being trounced by voters in 1991.

When push comes to shove, Canadian voters will, proverbially speaking, throw the baby out with the bath water. All members of Surrey council would do well to remember, as the next civic election approaches not five months away, that they serve at the public’s pleasure until they do not.

Surrey residents are unlikely to tolerate more collapsed meetings like Monday’s.

Anger aside, Surrey’s council chambers is the people’s house and must be respected by all.

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