Surrey 2018 mayoral candidates Tom Gill, left, and Doug McCallum. (Now-Leader file photos)

Surrey 2018 mayoral candidates Tom Gill, left, and Doug McCallum. (Now-Leader file photos)

COLUMN

ZYTARUK: Surrey mayor’s about-turn on banning handguns is baffling

From ‘simply foolish’ to ‘wholeheartedly support’ is one big jump

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So let it be written…

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum’s startling flip-flop on banning handguns earlier this week got me thinking about Tom Gill, one of his main rivals for the mayor’s chair during the 2018 civic election campaign.

While Gill was stumping as Surrey First’s mayoral candidate, he told me in September 2018 that he was prepared to make banning handguns “the biggest issue in the election.”

Indeed, it was a major plank in Gill’s platform.

“You can’t run for mayor, or council, and say you’re for public safety, and then turn around and say you’re fine with handguns in our city,” Gill told me in 2018. “This issue requires leadership and determination because there’s no middle ground.”

In McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition’s platform, a handgun ban here in Surrey was no plank. It wasn’t even a twig.

“The criminals will not turn in their guns even if there is a handgun ban. It is simply foolish to think they will,” the SSC’s campaign literature read. You can still read it, at safesurreycoalition.ca

Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal government has been contemplating such legislation for some time now. On Feb. 16 it revealed it will allow cities to ban handguns within their borders, but fell short of imposing a national ban. McCallum issued a media release that same day, under the headline “Mayor McCallum fully supportive of a handgun ban in Surrey.”

He is quoted as saying, “I wholeheartedly support a handgun ban for the City of Surrey and I am directing staff to immediately begin work on a bylaw for Council approval as quickly as possible.”

For Gill, it was a whoa moment. “Ironic,” he called it.

“It is ‘wait a minute,’” he laughed.

I certainly thought so. I tried contacting McCallum to learn why he’s changed his position on this handgun ban issue, but only got so far as a terse, “Hi Tom, the Mayor will not be commenting further on his statement from yesterday” from Amber Stowe, Surrey’s communications project manager.

This also got me thinking back to the 2018 campaign trail when, during an all-candidates’ forum at the Civic Hotel in Whalley, McCallum reckoned back to his mayoral days of yore, telling an audience of a couple hundred people his style of mayoring is “open door.”

“I answered all of my phone calls,” the then-former mayor said of his previous nine years in office.

Again, what happened?

Incidentally, McCallum told me a good while ago, on one of the rare occasions I’ve been able to speak with him since his 2018 election win, that he plans to seek re-election on Oct. 15, 2022.

Gill told me today there’s a “good chance” he’ll also be tossing his hat in the ring. Whether that’s for councillor or mayor, Gill says, “I’m still trying to figure out what position. Am I going to run for the one position or the eight, I haven’t figured that out yet.”

“Independent might be an option,” the Certified General Accountant mused. “Some conversations have been happening, back doors, let’s see if there’s any folks from years past that re-enter the stage, so let’s see how that works out.”

Whatever the case, Gill believes Surrey will indeed have a handgun ban by then. “I think so.”

But what impact it will have on gang violence in Surrey, if any, is definitely one for debate.

So let it be done…



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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Surreyzytaruk column so let it be done