Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke made haste to contact her lawyer in the wee hours of Tuesday after, at the tail end of a marathon council meeting, Mayor Doug McCallum once again declared out of order her renewed attempt to resurrect her motion for a referendum on the city’s transition to the Surrey Police Service from the Surrey RCMP.
“It’s already in the works,” she said Tuesday morning. “The public want a referendum. I think if it’s a possibility, it’s legit, then we should be able to talk, at least hear it out, at least have it come to the table for a vote. So it begs the question to me, what are they afraid of?
“They’re either afraid they’re going to lose the referendum,” she said, “or they don’t want to be exposed by saying they don’t want the referendum, they don’t want to expose themselves by saying we don’t want to let the public have their say. That’s all I can think of. I mean, that’s a pretty terrible place for a politician to be – to say I don’t want to hear from the public.”
“It’s very, very serious to me,” she said. Last week Locke told the Now-Leader she would seek legal action if McCallum reprised his response, after she got a legal opinion indicating her motion was not out of order and there is no reason why city council cannot asked the province for a referendum.
McCallum once again gave it short shrift. “Your motion still I ruled out of order and that’s where it’s at currently,” he told her. “It won’t be voted on again.”
She challenged his decision on her motion. It was upheld by the five Safe Surrey Coalition council members and opposed by Councillors Locke, Jack Hundial, Steven Pettigrew and Linda Annis.
Locke then asked the mayor to make public the legal opinion he based that on. “That is not an opinion that has a human resource issue, no trade secrets and no commercial impact. The citizens of Surrey paid for that opinion,” she said.
McCallum replied that her request to release the legal opinion “in this meeting” is out of order. “The legal opinion is privileged and confidential,” he said. “Consideration of the release of this confidential information should be considered by council in a closed meeting. That’s my ruling.”
Locke challenged that too, but it also fell on a five-to-four vote.
McCallum threatened to have Pettigrew’s microphone turned off after he protested that McCallum was not following procedure. “Councillor Pettigrew, we’re going to turn your mic off if you don’t listen to what the chair is saying,” McCallum told him.
“You need to follow procedure,” Pettigrew said. McCallum replied that he was.