Surrey’s city council chambers witnessed a battle of wills Monday night that led, ironically, to the Surrey RCMP being called in to deal with the very fellow who is championing their cause to stay on as Surrey’s police force.
A verbal dust-up between Ivan Scott – organizer of Keep the RCMP in Surrey – and Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum ensued after Scott began to address council during a public hearing into a development proposal for a five-storey apartment building in South Surrey.
Scott took umbrage with being referred to as “resident” in the Oct. 5 council meeting minutes rather than by his legal name, as had other speakers. He questioned if this was an “intentional slight” against him because he is an outspoken opponent of the city’s plan to replace the RCMP with a city-made police force.
“I find this insulting,” he said.
McCallum had shut down the speaker before Scott, after that speaker mentioned the mayor’s idea to build a canal in North Surrey. “If you’re not going to stay on topic we will ask you to please leave,” McCallum told him. When the speaker continued, McCallum had the city clerk “close him off.”
“I would ask you to please leave, sir,” McCallum said.
Then it was Scott’s turn at the mic. “I deserve to be heard,” Scott told McCallum. “You don’t listen to me, I don’t listen to you.”
When McCallum asked him to leave, he refused.
“Will you please escort the speaker out?” McCallum asked security, and then called a brief recess.
When council returned, Councillor Steven Pettigrew cited the Constitutional Act of 1982 and “put out a very serious warning” that Section 2B of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was being violated and petitioned staff to “make sure they are properly educating the mayor and council so that we don’t get our city in trouble because this is a very slippery slope that we’re on right now.”
Then Pettigrew and McCallum got into it. Pettigrew suggested Scott’s “constitutional rights” may have been violated. “I believe you are violating his rights and this is something we need to be aware of.”
Pettigrew asked staff to “look into this,” adding “I must admit I’m a bit concerned about staff responses on things so hopefully they’ll so that.”
McCallum replied that staff members cannot defend themselves in council chambers and told him to “take those comments back” and “apologize for it.”
Pettigrew said it was not his intent to insult, intimidate or belittle staff. “If that’s your feeling, well then I’m sorry that you feel that way,” he told the mayor.
After the dust settled, Scott told the Now-Leader that two Surrey Mounties came to council chambers after he’d left.
“They came for me, but they came after I left,” he said. “It’s absolutely ridiculous. Here the guy’s trying to get rid of the Mounties and he calls them to get rid of a 68-year-old guy like me with a gammy leg.”
He said when a security guard asked him to leave, he refused. “I respectfully declined their offer to escort me out there.”
He said he stuck around a while before leaving.
“The phoned me after I got home,” he said. “I said what’s the problem? He said, ‘Well, you talked over your time.’ I said ‘Really?’ He said ‘Yeah, you talked over your time.’ I said, ‘What else?’ He said, ‘Well, last week you came in there with a T-shirt saying things like Keep the RCMP.’ I said, ‘Clothing? What are you talking about?”
Asked if, after that, he still wants to keep the RCMP in Surrey, Scott chuckled. “They are obliged to answer to a complaint,” he said. “It’s their obligation to do that, and I don’t have a problem with that.”
But Scott said Tuesday he’s considering what his options are after a security guard at city hall put his hand on his wrist.
“Not hard,” he said, “just sort of like touching me to remind me to please come with him.”
“I’m looking at that in actual fact because he’s still not entitled to do that,” Scott said. “It’s a way of intimidation, in actual fact.”