Surrey Councillor Steven Pettigrew’s campaign to invite public scrutiny of the city’s plan to transition from the Surrey RCMP to its own police force has once again been stymied by the mayor.
Pettigrew has tried it before, with Mayor Doug McCallum ruling his motion out of order, saying it should instead be dealt with at a public safety committee meeting. Pettigrew took him up on that Monday, when it was again shot down.
“I’m trying to have public consultation in the transition process. It’s not going too far. My motion was denied again,” a frustrated Pettigrew told the Now-Leader, following Monday’s public safety committee.
“Everything has gone to closed now, so now I can’t talk about it and it’s very frustrating because too much is happening behind closed doors.
“I totally don’t agree with it,” Pettigrew said. “Some things, yes, have to be there, but many things don’t. I don’t believe this one needed to be – this is something that should be out in the open and councillors should be putting themselves on the line for this, where they stand and what they think, not hiding in the shadows.”
“That’s the problem with this whole transitional process – I know pretty much nothing. Many of the times I find out my information by reading the newspaper.”
Pettigrew has been fighting for public consultation before the report is released to the province, not after. His motion on Monday called on the public safety committee to direct city staff to develop and implement a city wide public consultation process on the police transition and provide council with a final report, including the results of the public consultation input, prior to it being submitted to Mike Farnworth, provincial minister of public safety and solicitor general.
“I tried to re-introduce it,” Pettigrew explained. “At the previous council meeting the mayor wouldn’t let me introduce it and then I challenged him and the rest of the council upheld his decision. I wanted to introduce the motion again, but I wanted to do it in open council because I’ve nothing to hide, I’m quite happy to be working in the open.”
“The mayor, again, denied that process,” he said. “So I challenged him again – I didn’t officially challenge him, I gently challenged him and I wanted to get confirmation from the staff that he has authority to deny my motions. Apparently so. I wanted it to be in open council session, and he wanted it to be in-camera.”
McCallum did not return requests for comment on the reasoning behind his denial of Pettigrew’s attempt for the matter to be heard in a public forum.
Meantime, Pettigrew said, “I’ve done what I can do, I can walk with my head held high, I’ve tried my best to represent the people and get them involved. Unfortunately council hasn’t agreed with me, a majority of council.”
Pettigrew confirmed that his Monday motion didn’t go to a vote. “It was just the mayor himself. He did it on his own authority, and I tried. That’s it.
“So now we’re gone into closed, can’t talk about it. That’s kind of frustrating too. The next thing is off to the province, and see what they do.”