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Surrey mayor’s first court appearance today on public mischief charge

Many Surrey residents have expressed outrage that Surrey taxpayers are on the hook for Doug McCallum’s legal bills
Keep the RCMP in Surrey campaign founder Ivan Scott (left) speaks to Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum in South Surrey Saturday Sept. 4. (@captainramona Twitter photo)

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is set to make his first court appearance today at 2 p.m. (Tuesday, Jan. 25) on a charge of public mischief, a Criminal Code offence that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

McCallum is charged with one count of public mischief contrary to Section 140(2) of the Criminal Code. The information, sworn on Friday, Dec. 10, stems from a bizarre encounter last September between McCallum and campaigners who were gathering petition signatures outside the South Point Save-On Foods store in South Surrey, for a referendum on the policing transition, that resulted in the mayor claiming a car ran over his foot.

Hot on the heels of the charge being laid came demands for McCallum’s resignation as mayor and chairman of the Surrey Police Board. Many Surrey residents have expressed outrage that Surrey taxpayers are on the hook for his legal bills. Richard Peck, QC, is his lawyer.

READ ALSO TIMELINE: Here’s a breakdown on Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum being charged

Surrey Police Vote, which campaigned unsuccessfully for a referendum on Surrey’s policing transition to the Surrey Police Service from the Surrey RCMP – a transition which McCallum has championed – are calling on the mayor to publicly disclose his legal bills related to this mischief charge.

“This is huge matter of public interest and concern,” said Surrey Police Vote campaign strategist Bill Tieleman. “Legal fees in general are not cheap and the mayor hired one of B.C’.s most expensive criminal defence lawyers to represent him. Every Surrey taxpayer deserves to know what this will cost them, and just as importantly, where the funds will come from.”

READ ALSO: Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum charged with public mischief in run-over foot case

Meantime, South Surrey resident Ivan Scott and other members of the Keep the RCMP in Surrey campaign are planning to stage a rally outside the courthouse while the proceedings are underway.

“We’ll make it small and strong,” Scott said Tuesday. “We’re just out there to show our displeasure, and show our support for the Crown.

“Surrey I think is holding its breath that justice will prevail,” he said.

McCallum, 77, is not the first Surrey mayor to be charged with a crime.

In 1995, a charge of theft under $5,000 was stayed by the Crown against former Surrey mayor Don Ross, who at age 64 was arrested by a security guard for allegedly pocketing a rubber washer from a Surrey Lumberland Store on Fraser Highway. He pleaded not guilty. Ross was Surrey’s mayor from 1979 to 1987. He died in 2001.

Also in 1995, a provincial court judge fined former Surrey mayor Ed McKitka $23,000 for dumping Blue Box recyclables on farm fields in Cloverdale. In 1977, a judge ordered McKitka to pay $5,000 in damages and legal costs for “wanton and irresponsible slander,” and in 1980 he was convicted of breach of trust and was sentenced to three years in prison. McKitka served for nine years on Surrey municipal council and was mayor for one term before being defeated by Bill Vogel, in November 1977, for the mayor’s chair. He died in 2014 at age 79, when his jeep went off Highway 1 near the Vedder Canal in a single vehicle crash.

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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