The mayor of Surrey, B.C., is being charged with public mischief in relation to a complaint he made in September involving residents opposed to his push to replace the local RCMP with an independent police force.
Prosecutor Richard Fowler approved the charge against Doug McCallum after the mayor complained that someone had driven over his foot in a grocery-store parking lot after an altercation with residents who were gathering signatures for a referendum on keeping the RCMP in Surrey.
A first court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2022.
The charge is the latest in a series of increasingly strange battles between the mayor and a large group of residents who started a Keep the RCMP group in Surrey shortly after Mr. McCallum was elected and moved ahead with his promise to start a Surrey police force to replace the existing RCMP.
That group was gathering signatures for a petition throughout the fall to try to force a referendum on the issue – an initiative that ultimately fell short.
Mr. McCallum said he was at the South Point Save-on-Foods on Sept. 4, where volunteers from the Keep the RCMP group were trying to garner support for their petition, when he was yelled at by a woman in a car who then hit him with her vehicle.
The weekend after that altercation, a bylaw officer charged a different supporter of the group with violating a prohibition on advertising in a city park.
In mid-September, Mr. McCallum and a group of four councillors consistently loyal to him voted to ban group of seven residents who are part of the pro-RCMP group from participating in any way at council meetings.
In relation to the charge facing him, Surrey City Hall issued a brief statement from the mayor: “We are in the middle of changing from RCMP to the Surrey Police Service, and as this matter is before the courts, I will not be making any comment.”
As mayor, Mr. McCallum is automatically the chair of the new Surrey police board, but there was no indication that he plans to excuse himself from that role. There is no provision in B.C. law that requires any council member to step down from their role at city hall if they are charged with or even convicted of a crime.
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