Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition council mates look to have squandered an excellent opportunity Wednesday to perhaps build bridges – although, at this point, in some circles those bridges might as well be made of fraying rope – as well as maybe score some respect.
If only they showed up to a Surrey Board of Trade breakfast event on Wednesday, in which Wally Oppal absorbed the wrath of audience members who stepped up to the microphone to voice their discontent with the way the mayor is running this city, particularly in respect to its controversial plan to transition from the RCMP to a city force.
After the Q&A session, a reporter asked Oppal what he thought of the mayor’s absence, to which Oppal graciously replied, “Well, I’m sure the mayor has other things to do.”
It is, of course, perfectly reasonable for a mayor of a city this size to not attend a large meeting, covering a topic in which so many Surreyites have a vested interest, if he or she has other pressing matters to tend to.
But it defies common sense to believe that not one of the five Safe Surrey Coalition council members were able to attend, particularly when the other four councillors outside their slate managed to do so.
“They’re not here, and it’s a slap in the face of the citizens of Surrey,” one speaker said.
If even one of them showed up, if only to sit and listen, this would have demonstrated there is indeed a will on their part to listen to Surrey residents. Their absence, however, only served to support their critics’ complaints that there is not.
Ironically, Oppal congratulated Surreyites for their engagement on this policing transition matter, noting that this is the stuff democracy is made of.
Still, nobody wants their input to be met with silence or indifference.
Democracy cannot exist in a vacuum.