Even with the slapping of Chris Rock by the ridiculous Will Smith, the clap heard around the world, I find it difficult to shift my comedy seeking focus away from the Cirque de Surrey. I last wrote about the antics going on in this city in November of 2021, but I have been drawn back.
Now under the Big Tent is Mayor Doug MaCallum, ably representing the white geriatric set of South Surrey balancing as usual on the high wire of political intrigue. Below trying to dislodge the safety net are some other old white men and women from South Surrey–the Keep the Police in Surrey group. Admission to this circus is being put up by the taxpayers of this often troubled Metropolis.
Mr. MaCallum and this other group have been cajoling and sniping for sometime now over a separate police force for the citizens of Surrey.
The last altercation between the wearing thin placard carriers and the soon to be heading out of office Mayor took place, appropriately enough, in that rough and tumble South Point Save On Foods parking lot. Also known as “the hood” for retirees. These Jets and Sharks forming up for battle on 16th Avenue thankfully didn’t involve guns, knives, or broken bottles; the weapon of choice this time were Michelin radials.
It all started when Mr. MaCallum was shuffling into the grocery store and was then confronted by a car driven by a woman who is one of the spearheads of the Surrey Police Vote/Keep the Police in Surrey group. They were already at the grocery story collecting signatures for their petition, and no doubt saw the leader of the Safe Surrey Coalition fortuitously heading their way. She stopped the car and began a verbal argument with the crusty mayor who was none too pleased to see the group at his grocery story where he likes to buy his hamburger trying to get signatures to stop his crusade for a separate police force.
At some point the car turned and drove away, leaving MaCallum hollering that he had just been run over, or more specifically, claiming that she had hurriedly turned away and in so doing glanced her car’s bumper off his leg and then ran over his foot. In a t.v. interview he claims he went to the hospital and was checked out. On this video news coverage he also demonstrated for the camera, the now obvious limp in his walk. When the police officers attended they asked Mr. MaCallum if he wished to press charges and exhibiting his usual stubborn disposition said that he would, after all, he was a “victim” of a heinous crime.
Of course, this is where the file, or the investigation of this complaint, should have come to a grinding halt. The attending officers should have seen that the physical damage to the Mayor, if any, was minor if at all. They should have spoken with both parties, explained to the mayor that furthering this investigation was a waste of time, a waste of police resources, and a culmination of two childish acting individuals trying to further their cause. Nothing was to be gained by going further.
That of course didn’t happen, apparently common sense was not too common that day, either because of the insistence of the Mayor, or the intrepid police officers were bored and in order to get rid of it, escalated this “political file” to the plainclothes unit. In a city where there is rampant drug and gang problems, why not spend time and resources and go after the perpetrators of this parking lot mayhem.
So the usual process of investigation begins. The General Duty (uniform) members who attended wasted no time in ridding themselves of this “major” crime and duly took their Prime reports and put them in the pneumatic vacuum tubes directly into the office of Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards the head of Surrey Detachment. Further brain storming meetings undoubtedly ensued as little is done in the RCMP now with out a committee meeting.
Edwards of course has had his differences with Mr. McCallum and has spoken out previously against McCallum’s party, the Safe Coalition group. For those that have been ignoring the Surrey news, the new Surrey Police Services group is over two hundred officers now and the process of replacing the haggard Mounties is well underway. The Mounties are keeping a brave face and pretending that everything is normal.
So along comes Mr McCallum’s complaint. Clearly McCallum was exaggerating his victimhood, clearly this was a very childish matter on the part of both parties. Mr. Edwards must have recognized that this could be an opportunity to embarrass his civic enemy. But he was astute enough to also realize that because of his past history, there was a clear “conflict of interest” in having the soon to be exiting Mounties investigating the fellow who is opening the door for them.
So to whom did Edwards give the investigation?
“To ensure there was no potential for real or perceived conflict of interest or improper influence” Mr. Edwards announced he was turning it over to another RCMP group, the RCMP Major Crime Section, Special Projects Unit, based out of E Division HQ.
How Mr. Edwards could not see this as still a conflict of interest is indeed baffling. Did he think that the fact that they were working out of E Division HQ, in a different building, that no one would notice that they are also RCMP? However, this fact did not seem to draw much media attention, so the investigation went forward.
Lo and behold, a mere three weeks later, the RCMP Major Crimes unit served a Production Order (a type of warrant) on the offices of CTV News. The warrant sought the unedited footage of the interview with McCallum and the reporter Catherine Urqhuart. The investigation according to the warrant was under Section 140(1)(a) entitled Public Mischief. The Mounties had clearly and quickly switched from this being an occasion of “assault” where McCallum was victim, to one where the victim was now the suspect.
The CTV news group, in dramatic fashion announced the raid on their offices, and immediately intoned that the maximum sentence for such an offence was five years. The veiled and intentional implication was that McCallum was indeed headed to the slammer.
This seemingly horrendous crime of assault, lack of assault, or public mischief, now deserved only the best legal minds one can buy. A “Special Prosecutor” was demanded by these apparently complicated legal circumstances.
So Richard Fowler was appointed. Mr. Fowler QC has had a fairly long and established career and according to his firms biography specializes in “large, complex cases”. He had previously worked with his former mentor David Gibbons on the defence of one of those accused in the Air India case. He even defended Glen Clark, the former Premier of the Province on charges of breach of trust and fraud. Therefore, he was with little doubt suitable for this more than serious undertaking. At significant cost of course.
Mr. McCallum, not to be outdone, hired legal gun slinger Richard Peck QC . Mr. Peck has been in the news recently as the defender of Meng Wanzhou . The extremely able, high profile, and also costly Mr. Peck is usually facing the challenges of defending murderers, sex offenders, and other sundry violators. His defence in this high profile case may come down to being able to read tire impressions.
Mr.McCallum was charged with public mischief on December 10th, 2021, an offence whereby “everyone commits public mischief who, with intent to mislead, causes a police officer to enter or continue an investigation…”. His defence counsel said that Mr. McCallum would not enter a plea at this time as they were awaiting “outstanding information”. Four months had gone by since the execution of the production order. Quick with the warrant, not so quick with the full disclosure package.
So on March 8th 2022, the case was put over to the Friday March 11, 2022 just to set a date for a “pre-trial conference”. The pre-trial conference has now been set for April 11th, 2022.
The lawyers have indicated that if the matter goes by trial, they will require five court days for the trial. The date of that trial will be determined, if needed, after April 11th. So four months have gone by since the charges and the court case has yet to begin. In comparison, if one is interested in measuring legal speed, in the high profile highly-charged and very complicated George Floyd incident in the U.S., Derek Chauvin was charged with murder. Four months later the legal proceedings began.
So what is going to come of all this time, money and resources. Mr. Fowler has already stated in the case of Mr. McCallum that they will be proceeding “summarily”. This means that they are treating this as a “less than serious offence” and are therefore opening the resolution to a lesser punishment. Fines less than $5,000 with a maximum jail time of “two years less a day”.
So as we await Mr McCallum’s fate and find out whether it in fact goes to a five day trial, one can only hope that in the pre-trial conference saner heads will prevail. The way things go in Surrey, this may in fact turn into a long running three ring circus.
All over a file call that two officers just out of recruit field training should have ended in ten minutes– including the paperwork.
Photo courtesy of Waferboard at Flickr Commons — Some Rights Reserved