SURREY (NEWS 1130) — Tensions flared in Surrey Saturday when Mayor Doug McCallum claims he was verbally assaulted and that his foot was run over by a vehicle.
In a statement to NEWS 1130, McCallum says he was out grocery shopping when the incident happened.
McCallum declined to offer further details, however, Elenore Sturko with the Surrey RCMP confirmed to NEWS 1130 that police were called to the South Point Save on Foods around midday Saturday, after reports of a dispute between parties that knew each other.
“We are investigating. One person alleged that they were run over — a part of their foot — by vehicle,” she says.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is recovering after an aggressive incident yesterday. In a statement to @NEWS1130 he says he was grocery shopping yesterday when he was verbally assaulted and then run over by a vehicle. Says he is ok and the incident is under police investigation.
— Tamara Slobogean (@realslobo) September 5, 2021
The incident happened near where pro-RCMP campaigners had set up a table. Surrey is currently in the process of transitioning from the RCMP to a municipal force — a move that has divided the community and has passionate supporters on both sides.
The organizer of ‘Keep the RCMP in Surrey’, Ivan Scott, says McCallum’s allegation that his foot was run over is false.
“We were out there collecting the signatures … And McCallum came across storming down to come and see us,” Scott says. “I was sitting there and he stormed across to me and he said, ‘You’re not allowed to be here.'”
Recounting the incident with McCallum to NEWS 1130, Scott says it was the mayor who was being antagonistic towards the group of people collecting signatures for a referendum on Surrey policing.
Scott says McCallum escalated the situation, telling Scott that the group was not allowed to be canvassing on public property and told him that he would call bylaw officers to move the group along.
Although not seeing the particular incident with a woman in the adjoining parking lot where McCallum was allegedly injured, Scott says McCallum came “storming” across the parking lot towards him afterwards.
Scott says McCallum then went into the Save On Foods store and spoke to the manager about the group being outside. According to Scott, the manager told McCallum they had given the group permission to be outside the store. Scott says Surrey bylaw officers did not attend.
Meanwhile, Surrey City Councillor Linda Annis is “shocked” to hear about the incident, saying everyone needs to be respectful of each other’s position.
“I certainly have been a strong supporter of the RCMP, and will continue to be,” she says. “I don’t think those that are wanting to move forward with the Surrey Police Service in any way should be attacked, verbally or physically. There’s no room for that in our society, and I think we need to be respectful to each other.”
Annis says that Surrey residents need to be focused on the upcoming police referendum, and is encouraging those who are in favour of keeping the RCMP to “be out there and getting signatures on the petition.”
“Whether the referendum is in favor of the Surrey Police Service or the RCMP, we have a right to be heard. And we have a right to know what this transition is going to look like and how much it’s going to cost,” she says.
The issue of policing in Surrey is hugely divisive, Annis says, because of a lack of transparency and public engagement.
“I’m not really hearing from anyone that says that we should be transitioning over to the Surrey Police Service. And quite frankly, for good reason, because we don’t know what this transition is going to look like,” she notes.
Annis says tensions are high around the issue because people also feel like they aren’t being heard.
“But at the end of the day, there is no place in my mind, in theory, or anywhere in Canada or in the world, for physical violence or verbal abuse,” she says.
– With files from Azzaya Khan