Surrey’s mayor pulled from Monday night’s council agenda a proposed amendment to the city’s Code of Conduct bylaw that, if passed, would have prevented Surrey’s Ethics Commissioner from processing and investigating complaints lodged against council members between Jan. 31 until the next council is sworn in after the Oct. 15 civic election.
Nine and a half months no doubt would have made for a record election blackout period, at least in the free world. But since the meeting’s agenda was released Friday morning, Jan. 28, Mayor Doug McCallum found himself in a media pressure cooker over the matter, leading up to his extraordinary move to have the item, which would have no doubt fueled acerbic debate, scrubbed from the agenda.
The mayor’s statement late Monday afternoon claimed “misinformation circulating about the bylaw is unfortunate,” a dubious protestation considering he could have responded to media requests for comment but did not. He said the goal of bringing this bylaw forward for reconsideration was to “strengthen the bylaw to ensure the Office of the Ethics Commissioner is not used for partisan purposes during the election period.”
By shutting it down for at least nine and a half months?
People might suspect there are some matters keeping some politicians awake at night that led to the proposed amendment landing on the council’s agenda in the first place. At least that’s what appears to have happened here, and as they say, in politics perception is everything.
The mayor clearly has some air to clear here, some explaining to do, lest voters’ imaginations are left to fill in the vacuum that this situation has created.