Pro-RCMP group cries foul after members banned from Surrey city council meetings
7 members of the Keep the RCMP in Surrey group have been barred from attending council and committee meetings
A group supporting a referendum on policing in Surrey says a motion passed by Surrey City Council barring some individuals from speaking at public meetings is just the latest bully tactic from Mayor Doug McCallum.
Ivan Scott, founder of the Keep the RCMP in Surrey campaign, said he and six others from the group received emails from the City of Surrey saying they were now prohibited from attending city council and committee meetings in person.
"This is typical of the way that [McCallum] tries to intimidate and bully people into accepting or getting out of whatever it is," said Scott.
In a statement from the City of Surrey, McCallum cites "... the ongoing hostile behaviour of these particular individuals" and "aggressive and disorderly behaviour" as reasons for the ban.
"We must ensure that council and city staff are able to carry out their duties without fear of verbal assault and harassment," said McCallum.
Scott said he strongly disagrees with McCallum's characterizations and says it's the mayor who has been disrespectful during virtual council meetings.
"I absolutely object to that. I've always been there respectfully," said Scott. "Whenever ... we've gone into the realms of the safety of the people in the City of Surrey with respect to [policing,] he just cuts us off."
Surrey is currently in the process of replacing its municipal RCMP with an independent, city-run police force, something that McCallum promised during his election campaign.
The group Surrey Police Vote has launched a petition asking the Province of B.C to hold a binding referendum on the police force transition. Scott's Keep the RCMP in Surrey group has been supporting efforts to collect signatures.
In recent weeks, acrimony between the groups and the mayor seems to be increasing.
Earlier this month, Scott said McCallum showed up at a South Surrey grocery store to confront petition supporters. McCallum claimed later he was verbally assaulted and run over by a vehicle while at the store.
And this past Sunday, Scott said he was slapped with a $200 fine for unlawful advertising related to a sign he put out while collecting signatures at the Cloverdale Flea Market. Scott said other members of his group have also been fined by bylaw officers.
"[McCallum] is calling the Surrey bylaw people to come down and harass us and intimidate us. In the last three weeks, we've had at least 15 interactions with the bylaw people," said Scott.
In a statement of her own, Surrey Coun. Linda Annis said the ban is more evidence of the mayor's "'my-way-or-the-highway' approach to city government."
According to the statement from the City of Surrey, the ban will "protect the democratic process."
"Individuals who have repeatedly disrupted and verbally harassed council and city staff during public hearings will now be provided the opportunity to submit their questions and comments through written format," it said.
CBC requested an interview with McCallum but was told he would not be commenting beyond the city news release.