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A controversial motion that looks to prevent Surrey’s ethics commissioner from hearing new complaints in the months before this October’s municipal election has passed.

Council debated the bylaw amendment to clarify rules of ethical conducts, with Mayor Doug McCallum insisting adjustments are part of an annual review of the code of conduct.

However, opposition councillors had raised concerns, suggesting the changes would effectively slash transparency at city hall.  The change would prevent any new complaints from being heard by the ethics commissioner for six months – where other municipalities such as Toronto only limit their investigations three months before a municipal election.

The motion passed 5 to 3.

Mayor Doug McCallum first pitched the idea in January. It was pulled days later after backlash from some councillors.

The language of the motion has now been tweaked after McCallum suggested the original proposal was the target of a misinformation campaign by his critics.

Councillor Linda Annis previously called the initial motion an “incredible disrespect for Surrey residents and any kind of transparency at city hall.”