Surrey city Councillor Linda Annis is taking the Safe Surrey Coalition to task for running “fake news” and a doctored photo of her in an attack ad on the slate’s twitter account and its Facebook page.
“I’m very deeply disappointed that they would come up with what I would call fake news, would cut and paste old obsolete statements that were completely out of context with the current issue at hand, and put together this fake ad,” the Surrey First councillor said. “I think in Surrey our politics should be above that kind of behaviour.”
The photo has Annis holding up a piece of paper with the message: “A vote against the financial capital plan = A vote against critical new programs and city amenities.”
“That’s absolutely a doctored photo and the quote, I’ve not held that sign up ever,” Annis told the Now-Leader. “The yellow piece of paper with those words on, no, that’s totally doctored.”
— Safe Surrey Coalition (@safesurrey2018) November 19, 2020
The real photo shows Annis holding up a yellow piece of paper containing the message “No deliveries please while we’re away. Thanks.”
The doctored photo is beneath a quote attributed to Annis that states she said “Forget about new city infrastructure, road repairs, new rinks or much-needed additional police and firefighters for our growing city,” in the Surrey Now-Leader on Nov. 18, 2020, when in fact the quote actually appeared in the Now-Leader on Nov. 18, 2019, when Annis had been referring to the last budget – not this one – and these aforementioned items being swallowed up by the policing transition.
“Forget about new city infrastructure, road repairs, new rinks or much-needed additional police and firefighters for our growing city. This budget has just one thing on its mind and that’s funding the mayor’s police department. There’s nothing else on his radar screen,” is what her full quote reads from 2019.
The quote, an upset Annis stressed, was from “one year ago, in 2019. It was in response to the proposed budget at the time. So the message was completely taken out of context, and it related to the 2019 budget.
“The context of what I was saying back in 2019, there was no money for any of those things because eveything was going to the police transition. So the whole statement was taken completely out of context,” Annis said. “I was shocked that the Safe Surrey Coalition would do something like that, particularly when the facts aren’t straight.
“You challenge each other based on facts, and there’s nothing wrong with us disagreeing on issues, but you do it based on facts, you don’t make up the facts.”
Annis said she sent a note to Mayor Doug McCallum on November 18th asking that the post be removed from the Safe Surrey Coalition twitter and Facebook accounts and that he advise her once it’s been done. “As of this morning, I’ve not had a reply from him nor has the post been removed,” she said. The Now-Leader has also sought comment from the mayor. Amber Stowe, the city’s communications project manager, replied in an email Monday that “As this is a political matter, please reach out to Safe Surrey Coalition regarding this enquiry.”
It’s not the first time the SSC twitter account – described as the “Official Page for Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition” – has made headlines for launching attacks. In June, it targeted the RCMP, which the city intends to replace with a city-made police force.
A since-deleted post accusing the RCMP of murder included a link to a news story about the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. recommending charges against five officers in the death of a Prince George man in 2017. In response Mayor McCallum told the Now-Leader at the time that he didn’t agree with the post, said it won’t ever happen again, and claimed it “was sent out by an unauthorized person.”
“We’ve corrected that and it won’t happen again,” McCallum told the Now-Leader at the time. “I have, and certainly Safe Surrey Coalition, have tremendous respect for the RCMP.”
Councillor Laurie Guerra, of the Safe Surrey Coalition, said because she’s not on Twitter she’s not aware of any Twitter post, but that she has seen the Facebook post “that I believe was the same as the Twitter post.
“I had no problem with the content of it by Councillor Annis did email myself and Councillor (Allison) Patton and she said that the date on the quote was wrong and so I let Safe Surrey Coalition know,” Guerra said, adding she doesn’t know if the post was subsequently taken down. “I just know that I did let them know that.
“I don’t have any problem with the content of it, other than the fact I wanted to make sure that the dates were correct.”
Guerra agreed with Annis that fighting on issues is fair game, just as long as it’s based on facts. “Absolutely, absolutely I agree,” Guerra said.
Councillor Doug Elford, also of the Safe Surrey Coalition, told the Now-Leader on Monday that he has no problem with the attack ad.
“To me I see it as truthful in a sense, so I really don’t have a problem with that posting, to be honest with you,” Elford said. He said if the date is incorrect, “it has to be corrected.”
He said he’s “not aware” of the context of the photo.
Asked if he will ask that the social media posting be fixed, Elford replied “At this point in time, no.”
Asked if it’s fair to take someone’s words out of context and using it against them, he replied “I can’t answer that question.”