Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo)

EDITORIAL: Surrey mayor’s ‘shaken to the core’ over city debt, but we’re not

Just about any time of pendular change in ideology following an election, shock is sure to follow

You can almost set your clock by it – er…, well, your calendar, anyways.

Just about any time there is a pendular change in ideology following an election at any level of government, shock and surprise are sure to follow.

We heard it in spring of 2017 when the NDP took over the province from the BC Liberals, we heard it a few months prior from our neighbours when U.S. Republican President Donald Trump took over from the Democrats, and we heard it about a year earlier when Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took over from the Conservatives’ ‘Harper Government.’

The refrain is familiar: “Gosh, we had no idea how bad our predecessors were at keeping the books, and the electorate should blame them if we can’t afford all our election promises,” or something to that effect.

Today (Tuesday), we heard from Mayor Doug McCallum, whose Safe Surrey Coalition all but swept Surrey First from office last month, after its own back-to-back clean-sweeps in past elections.

“When the books were shown to me, I was deeply dismayed and shaken to the core to see how much debt the City of Surrey has been carrying,” McCallum was quoted in a media release received by Peace Arch News 43 seconds after midnight.

“The fact that the debt load is at $514 million is simply untenable and frankly, irresponsible.”

READ: McCallum ‘shaken to the core’ over debt

The response from Surrey First was immediate and, of course, as expected. That slate’s defeated mayoral candidate, former councillor Tom Gill and longtime finance chair, questioned why McCallum was so in the dark until this week, considering the city prides itself on open books. And he wondered whether McCallum plans to use this as an excuse to not fulfil his most expensive promises, which includes replacing the RCMP with a civic force.

Certainly, McCallum’s release includes comments that while “services and programs that the city delivers will not be impacted… what we will be doing as a Council is determining what makes the most fiscal sense for our ratepayers and how to responsibly proceed with capital projects.”

For those wondering what the future holds, we predict that the only guarantee will be more excuses when the pendulum swings towards whatever political ideology replaces McCallum’s team, when it eventually comes time for that.

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