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Changes “subvert Surrey Ethics Commissioner Office’s purpose and has weakened the credibility of the overall effort”: Jay Chalke Ombudsperson, British Columbia

Surrey, B.C. (April 25, 2022): Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says a three-page letter from British Columbia’s Ombudsperson, Jay Chalke, reinforces everything that is wrong with the changes and investigation limitations imposed on Surrey’s Ethics Commissioner by Doug McCallum and his four Safe Surrey Councillors.

“The Ombudsperson has reviewed the changes and has expressed real concern about the lack of transparency, the use of closed council meetings, and the decision to halt ethics investigations until after the October 15 municipal election,” said Annis. “Frankly, the Ombudsperson is completely correct, and the people of Surrey recognize the damage that Doug McCallum and Councillors Elford, Guerra, Patton and Nagra have done to the office of our Ethics Commissioner and his effectiveness going forward.”

Annis said the Ombudsperson commended Surrey for being the first municipality in BC to appoint an ethics commissioner, but the recent changes, restrictions, and lack of accountability and transparency have weakened the credibility of the office.

“When we appointed the Ethics Commissioner the whole idea was to set a high bar for the conduct of mayor and council,” said Annis. “But the changes supported by Doug McCallum give politicians at Surrey City Hall a holiday from ethics investigations until after the municipal election,” added Annis. “That alone should raise questions and concerns among Surrey voters. Ethics are supposed to be something we have and commit to every single day, which means any violation should always be subject to investigation, with absolutely no get-out-of-jail free card six months before an election. The changes that have been made and supported by Doug McCallum and his councillors make a mockery of the ethics standards we put in place when we first created this office. The people of Surrey feel exactly as the Ombudsperson does, and like more and more of our voters, I cannot wait for the October civic election because our city and its people deserve better than this.”