Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum threatened to have a councillor ejected from a meeting last night for refusing not to be heard at a public hearing.
Surrey Coun. Steven Pettigrew stood on a point of order at a public hearing Monday, asking staff to clarify the rules on how meetings were to be run.
Pettigrew was upset that recommendations from his environment committee were dismissed by McCallum, who called recommendations from the committee “redundant” two weeks ago, and wanted council to discuss it.
Pettigrew left the mayor’s Safe Surrey party days before.
Shortly after Monday’s meeting started, Pettigrew stood on a point of order and was swiftly ruled out of order by McCallum.
The highly unusual display was all unfolding before a delegation from the municipality of KSD (King Sabata Dalindyebo) in South Africa, which was visiting the meeting to watch local democracy unfold.
“I would like to know whether members will use Roberts Rules of Order during council meetings,” Pettigrew asked mayor and staff.
“The rules that we use have been set by the city clerk and by council have been the same since I’ve been on council,” McCallum said. “So, those are the rules.”
McCallum attempted to move on, but Pettigrew wanated to have his question more fully answered.
McCallum then threatened to have him removed from the meeting.
Later, Pettigrew attempted to have his question raised as a notice of motion, and once again, McCallum ruled him out of order.
The mayor told him that all notices of motion needed to be given to the chair prior to the meeting.
PulseFM called former Mayor Dianne Watts to ask if she had heard of such a thing, and she was astonished.
“That’s never the way we ran things,” she said.
McCallum darted out of the meeting, avoiding the press, but we caught up with him in the parkade afterward.
He said he was troubled by what he saw in Pettigrew and said he would have the city’s human resources staff work with the new councillor.
“I think we need to look at maybe he’s having some stress in his life and the pressure that council brings,” McCallum said. “It’s a very steep learning curve for someone that’s never been involved in it. And I think he’s having a hard time handling that.
Pettigrew said he’s fine, and is having fun with the job he was elected to do.
“I’m fine, I’m at peace,” Pettigrew said Tuesday morning. “I’m enjoying the job most of the time.”
He said he’s a stickler for process and plans to hold the mayor to it.
“I’m trying to deal with this from a legislative perspective,” Pettigrew said. “I’m trying to follow the rules that are listed in the Community Charter and the Council Procedure bylaws… it’s challenging for me to work in that environment when they are not followed.”
Former Surrey Coun. Mike Starchuk was at the meeting and said Tuesday he was stunned by what he saw.
“It wasn’t like any other council meeting I’ve seen in my entire life,” Starchuk said. “There was no respect, there was no decorum, there was no process that was there — it was a free-for-all.”
Starchuk said it was an embarrassing display.
“I can only imagine what the delegation from South Africa thought as far as parliamentary procedure goes for the City of Surrey,” Starchuk said.
The full council meeting can be viewed at this link.
The first exchange is at about 4:41 into the meeting. The second is at about 1:05:54, just before the close of the meeting.