Memo to Safe Surrey Coalition: when leaders are charged, bad things sometimes happen to their parties

It's something for them to consider as they ponder the fate of their leader, Mayor Doug McCallum

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      This week, the Surrey Now–Leader reported that three members of Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum's caucus are firmly on-side with him and his party.

      Journalist Lauren Collins noted that councillors Laurie Guerra, Doug Elford, and Allison Patton will run with McCallum's Safe Surrey Coalition in 2022. The fourth member of the Safe Surrey Coalition on council, Mandeep Nagra, did not respond to the paper's phone or email requests for comment after his leader, McCallum, was charged with public mischief.

      The record for B.C. political parties has been mixed after their recent or current leader has been charged with a criminal offence.

      A former premier, Bill Vander Zalm, was charged with breach of trust following the sale of his home and theme park in Richmond. His Social Credit party was soundly defeated in the following election, capturing only seven seats. It never recovered.

      Another premier, Glen Clark, was charged with a criminal offence in 2000, a year after resigning from office in a casino-licensing scandal. In the next election, the NDP won only two seats and didn't form government again until 2017.

      Both Vander Zalm and Clark were acquitted in court.

      A third premier, Gordon Campbell, was charged with impaired driving while on holiday in Hawaii in 2003. He pleaded no contest and was fined about $1,350 in Canadian currency.

      Despite the conviction, Campbell's B.C. Liberals were reelected in 2005 and 2009.

      A fourth premier, Bill Bennett, was also charged criminally in an insider-trading scandal but was acquitted in court. However, he was convicted by the B.C. Securities Commission under securities legislation in 1996 after his former party, the Socreds, were a spent force politically.

      NDP MLA Jinny Sims hasn't ruled out running for mayor of Surrey.

      Will Sims step forward if McCallum calls it quits?

      The Surrey Now–Leader also reported on rumours that Surrey-Panorama NDP MLA Jinny Sims might run for mayor, possibly with the Safe Surrey Coalition. 

      Premier John Horgan did not bring Sims back into cabinet after she was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in 2020 following an investigation into claims made by the B.C. Liberal party.

      After she was cleared, Sims accused then B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson of advancing baseless allegations.

      Coincidentally, the special prosecutor in that case, Richard Peck, is the same lawyer who is defending McCallum against a Criminal Code charge of public mischief laid by another special prosecutor.

      Meanwhile, a former member of the Safe Surrey Coalition caucus, Coun. Brenda Locke, has declared her intention to run for mayor. She's emerged as one of McCallum's most vocal critics on council.

      The last Surrey mayor to be charged criminally for his actions as mayor was Ed McKitka. He was under investigation when he was defeated in his bid for reelection in 1977.

      Later, McKitka was convicted and jailed—the circumstances of which were laid out in formeer CKNW journalist George Garrett's memoir, George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter. McKitka was subsequently elected to a one-year term as a Surrey councillor.