ZYTARUK: Surrey council has a storied history of Monday Night Fights

ZYTARUK: Surrey council has a storied history of Monday Night Fights

Break out the popcorn, folks

homelessphoto

So let it be written…

The recent spat between Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum and Councillor Steven Pettigrew, whom he threatened to have removed from chambers as Pettigrew tried to get his point across, was by no means the first time civic politicians crossed swords in this city.

It was more like a toothpick fight, really, in the broader spectrum of things. But it certainly stirred some memories for this long-time Surrey reporter. Like when five RCMP cruisers showed up at city hall when a pimple of a quarrel blew up into a Mount Baker of overreaction.

I was chatting with former Mayor Bob Bose the other day, hearkening back to that frozen Monday night in December 1995 when debate got so heated between himself and Councillor Judy Higginbotham that he called the cops on her.

“I only wanted one officer, a female, if need be,” Bose recalled. “It was never acted upon. The problem was when the RCMP was contacted it wasn’t explained to them that this was not a riot and they sent, I think it was 17 police officers. That was unfortunate, and I took a hell of a hit for that one.”

Grant Learned, who was a Surrey Mountie at the time, remarked that while police often get called to break up bar fights, they don’t get called to enforce Robert’s Rules of Order.

READ ALSO: Surrey councillor ‘concerned about democracy’ after tensions boil over with mayor

Higginbotham remembered that bizarre night like it happened yesterday. How could she forget?

“Normally Bob and I were like oil and water on council,” she recalled. “We had very different points of view. Bob and I, when we got out of council, were friends.”

They say time heals all wounds, and this rings true with both former political rivals.

“By the way, I get along with Judy Higginbotham just fine,” Bose stressed. “I have no bad feelings. She was a good council member, and so was Bonnie Schrenk. Bonnie Schrenk gave me bloody hell.”

Schrenk was a feisty pro-development redhead, who came to be known in preservationist circles as Queen of the Bulldozers. She was the first Surrey councillor to die in office, in its first 114 years. Remarkably, she climbed out of her deathbed to cast a critical vote on a project before succumbing to cancer on Aug. 15, 1993, at the young age of 50.

“That was an experience I will never forget,” Bose recalled. “Her role as a council member was so important to her; it was her soul, it was who she was.”

On a much lighter note, I remember Schrenk telling me about a candy war breaking out in council chambers one night in March, 1987 with the aldermen – that’s what they called councillors back in the days of yore – chucking mints at each other. “It was like war,” she said.

Nearly a decade later, when McCallum replaced Bose as Surrey’s mayor in November, 1996 he declared an end to the in-fighting on council, that he planned to be a consensus-builder and would also bring an end to closed-door meetings and improve public access to the mayor’s office. I guess history will be his judge.

I won’t fail to mention that infamous pen-jabbing story out of White Rock city council, which I also covered back in the day.

On June 23, 2003, Councillor Margaret Woods made headlines in the Beijing News after she was accused of punching Councillor Cliff Annable in the head and poking his face with a pen during a raucous in-camera debate over city roadwork.

She was charged with common assault but the Crown eventually stayed the charge. Woods tried to get the city to cover her $24,991.91 in legal bills, reasoning she should be indemnified as the situation arose during a council meeting. Council disagreed, reasoning that striking another councillor was not in her job description.

Delta council, to my recollection, has been like a high-tea party in comparison.

Must be the water.

So let it be done.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Just Posted

Hundreds gathered at Surrey’s Holland Park Friday (June 11) in memory of the Muslim family killed in London, Ont. on Sunday (June 6). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Educating public ‘exhausting,’ says White Rock Muslim Association past president

Asad Syed says public needs to be more vocal in their condemnation

The City of White Rock turns 63 today. (file photo)
City of White Rock 2020 annual report available for review

Report to be discussed at June 28 council meeting

Dooris Raad was last seen in South Surrey’s Ocean Park neighbourhood on June 7. (Surrey RCMP photo)
Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read