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Outgoing Surrey mayor Doug McCallum's trial begins

Doug McCallum has pleaded not guilty to a charge of public mischief.

In one of his first public appearances since losing the Oct. 15 election, outgoing Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum pleaded not guilty on Monday in Surrey Provincial Court to a charge of public mischief at the beginning of a trial scheduled to last seven days. 

McCallum accused a pro-RCMP petitioner of running over his foot in the Southpoint Save-On-Foods parking lot on Sept. 4 last year. The RCMP investigated McCallum and Special Prosecutor Richard Fowler laid a single charge against the mayor.

Debi Johnstone, the woman McCallum accused, was the first witness before Judge Reginald Harris.  

Fowler showed outward-facing surveillance footage obtained from a camera inside the grocery store’s entrance. The sequence, beginning at 9:54 a.m., showed Johnstone driving around the parking lot, through empty parking spaces and stopping. McCallum stood next to the passenger side of her vehicle and they exchanged words before Johnstone drove away. 

The video then showed McCallum walking into the grocery store, not appearing to be injured in any way. 

Another camera, with a fish-eye lens, showed McCallum and Keep the RCMP in Surrey founder Ivan Scott speaking to each other near the volunteer tent and table, where the campaigners were seeking signatures in a bid to force a referendum on whether to proceed with the McCallum-promised Surrey Police Service. 

Johnstone’s car went out of the frame. She said she went to park and made her way to where the volunteers were set up, so she could start her shift.

“We were supposed to be there until 2 o’clock, but with all the kerfuffle that was created, the store manager made us leave between 12:30 and 1,” Johnstone said. 

She said she was not privy to McCallum and Scott’s conversation, but shot a photo on her smartphone of them facing each other. 

Afterward, she said, Scott came to her. “Mr. Scott said to me ‘did you run over Doug McCallum’s foot? And I laughed, ‘of course not’.” 

Johnstone said she received a phone call from Surrey RCMP around 4:30 p.m. on the same day and an officer asked her to come to the station, because “there’d been an incident.” 

“I wondered if it was to do with Mr. McCallum saying that I ran over his foot,” she said. “He told me that I would be investigated for assault with a weapon and criminal harassment.”
Johnstone said the officer told her she did not need to go to the station and did not need to provide a statement, but “I went on my own free will.”

Under cross-examination by McCallum’s lawyer Richard Peck, Johnstone said she hoped that McCallum would quit the mayoralty and considered her sighting of McCallum in the parking lot to be her “lucky day.”

Johnstone said that she had voted for McCallum in 2018, on the basis of his plan to replace the planned light rail transit system with a SkyTrain extension and because of his Safe Surrey Coalition party’s emphasis on public safety. But she began to disagree with the way McCallum and his caucus rammed through bylaws, developments permits and budgets.

“How did it make your day lucky?” Peck asked.

She had explained that civic bylaw officers had consistently appeared at locations the pro-RCMP petitioners set-up their table and believed they had been dispatched by McCallum to harass them. 
“Instead of bylaws there, he was coming in now to have us sent off the property,” she said. “Now he’s going to have to confront all of us on a day off.”

Peck asked if she wanted a confrontation with McCallum.

“It was never the intention to get out of my car and have a fistfight with him, if that’s what you mean, but I sat in my car and told him to resign,” she said.

Peck accused her of “vilifying him for one minute” and that she had demeaned McCallum’s skin condition by calling him a “scaly faced motherfucker.”  

“I swore at Mr. McCallum, quite a few times,” she admitted. “Using language very unfitting of a lady.” 

Peck noted that Johnstone had previously protested on the street in front of McCallum’s house in Crescent Beach and had called members of the Surrey Police Service “whores” and “scabs” while protesting outside the new force’s headquarters. 

Later, she told Peck that it had “been a long four years” under McCallum and that she tried to have her voice heard. 

“I’m disrespected, I’m cut-off, I’m ignored,” she said. 

Johnstone said she also felt harassed and most-recently complained to the RCMP after someone had spray painted “you’re dead” on her garage door. She assumed supporters of McCallum were responsible for a string of incidents, because nothing like that happened before she began going to council meetings after McCallum’s 2018 election.

As he left the court, McCallum said nothing to reporters. 

When she left the court, Johnstone was smiling and said: “I’m glad it’s over, but it’s good to tell the truth.”
McCallum is represented by Peck and Eric Gottardi, two downtown Vancouver lawyers who represented Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in her extradition hearings at B.C. Supreme Court from 2019 to 2021. 
McCallum has refused to say how much Surrey taxpayers are spending on his defence. 
Coun. Brenda Locke, who won the election by fewer than 1,000 votes, has promised to send the bill to McCallum and to end the Surrey Police Service.