An online petition to “Stop the City of Surrey from Paying for Mr. McCallum’s Legal Bills” has clicked ahead with more than 10,000 e-signatures, as of Friday afternoon (Dec. 17).
“At 15,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!” notes a post on the website.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum was charged with one count of public mischief on Friday, Dec. 10.
Dave Langlands started the petition a few days later, after McCallum confirmed that taxpayers will be paying for his legal defence, due to city bylaw 15912.
The bylaw states, in part, that councillors should have their legal costs covered if the case is “in connection with the exercise or intended exercise of the person’s powers or the performance or intended performance of the person’s duties or functions.”
Those who sign the petition can give their reasons for doing so.
“Taxpayers should not pay legal fees. He was on personal business,” Julie-Anne Slade posted.
“Like any ordinary person, he should be responsible for his actions and be financially accountable for same,” Mary Wiebe added. “Not in any way, shape or form, was this City business.”
The charge against McCallum stems from a confrontation at the South Point Save-On-Foods on Sept. 4, in South Surrey. After the incident, the mayor told news media he was “run over by a vehicle” after speaking to a group of residents collecting signatures for the Elections BC-authorized Surrey Police Vote Petition. McCallum’s claim that his foot was run over was immediately disputed by the people who were collecting signatures.
Special prosecutor Richard Fowler, QC, approved the mischief charge after the RCMP investigated a complaint from McCallum concerning “events that allegedly occurred” on Sept. 4.
McCallum’s first date in Surrey provincial court is set for Jan. 25.
with files from Aaron Hinks and Tom Zytaruk