Surrey councillors (clockwise from top left) Brenda Locke, Doug Elford, Laurie Guerra, Jack Singh Hundial, Mandeep Nagra, Steven Pettigrew, Linda Annis and Allison Patton.

Surrey councillors (clockwise from top left) Brenda Locke, Doug Elford, Laurie Guerra, Jack Singh Hundial, Mandeep Nagra, Steven Pettigrew, Linda Annis and Allison Patton.

EDITORIAL: Rocky road ahead for Surrey leaders

New councillors hit speed bump, as politicians’ traditional honeymoon period cut short

At least two new Surrey councillors have not experienced much of the traditional honeymoon period since being sworn in Nov. 5.

For one, her victory lap was cut short by a petition that resulted in her resignation from the Autism BC board. For the other, her status as a physician and use of the “doctor” title was called into question, with critics noting she is a naturopath, not an MD.

Coun. Laura Guerra’s Autism BC resignation followed a series of posts by News1130 reporter Lauren Boothby who went “undercover” at a private celebration for various anti-SOGI civic politicians elected Oct. 20. While Guerra later maintained she’s “not anti-anything,” she said in the same breath that she is not pro-SOGI – the school curriculum that teaches acceptance of all genders in what many now accept as a non-binary world.

Following a social-media back-and-forth, Guerra last week made her Twitter account – which identifies her as a “Surrey councillor” – private, sparking a new row over whether elected officials should be allowed to publish to select constituents.

READ: Culture Guard endorses eight candidates for upcoming Surrey civic election

READ: Surrey councillor defends SOGI 123 stance after resigning from AutismBC

In the case of Surrey Coun. Allison Patton, who refers to herself as a physician and “Dr. Patton” – her Mountainview Wellness Centre email address is dr.patton@mvwc.ca, her campaign address drallisonpatton@safesurreycoalition.ca – she has been inconsistent in noting she is a naturopath.

Online critics, commenting this month on Peace Arch News articles and others, maintain she is not a physician and demand “corrections.”

READ: Dr. Allison Patton joins Safe Surrey Coalition slate

To be clear, the BC Medical Practitioners Act reserves the titles “Doctor”, “Dr.” and “physician” for registered members, but allows exceptions “if the use is authorized by another Act,” as it is in the Health Professions Act’s Naturopathic Physicians Regulation section. Still, that didn’t stop CBC from reporting this week that a complaint by “a member of the public” had been filed with the College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC, which has a policy that members must indicate naturopathic doctor – or “ND” – in advertising. (For its part, the college refuses to confirm said complaint.)

Whether any of these issues affects a councillor’s public duties – or is otherwise cause for concern – is up to the electorate.

But in our experience, when anyone’s term of office begins with a speed bump, it can be the start of a rocky road ahead for the entire jurisdiction.

Brace yourselves, Surrey, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

———

(Editor’s note: This editorial was initially posted referring to an incorrect radio station for reporter Lauren Boothby.)

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EDITORIAL: Rocky road ahead for Surrey leaders

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