Veteran Surrey First councillor Dave Woods blames Surrey First mayoral candidate Tom Gill's leadership for his abrupt departure from Surrey First, saying he ‘cannot support a team leader who doesn’t value or seek consultation of team members’ after Gill told the media he supports a federal gun ban without consulting with his team.
By DESIBUZZCanada Staff
SURREY – Surrey First's shaky mayoral candidate Tom Gill's campaign got off to a bad start veteran Surrey First councillor Dave Woods questioning Gill's leadership over the former's failure to consult Woods on supporting the federal government's handgun ban.
The cantankerous Woods promptly left Gill led Surrey First Wednesday, citing failure of leadership on Gill's part after the neophyte party leader voiced his support for the handgun ban.
Gill said in a press release Thursday that he and his Surrey First team will “never apologize for keeping his city safe and keeping handguns out of the hands of gangs and criminals”.
“Despite the arguments for-and-against gun ownership making the rounds in the news, there is absolute proof that getting guns off our streets leads to improved safety for everyone,” Gill says.
But fellow Surrey councillor Woods, a former RCMP officer, said that position was made without consulting him – one reason that Woods pulled out of Surrey First.
“The problem is gangs, not guns,” said Woods, adding, “I’ve lost confidence in Gill as a potential leader and I would not be voting for him as mayor.”
Woods said he plans to stay in the race, but hasn’t figured out in exactly what capacity now. He could be headed to his former colleague Bruce Hayne's Integrity First slate as they are currently only fielding 6 candidates and had hoped that Woods would leave Surrey First and join them.
Hayne has not made his stance on handguns clear yet but he told CTV News on Tuesday that he supports gun safety, but “the devil is in the details” when it comes to making such a ban work.
A handgun ban has already been supported in cities like Toronto and Montreal and has enjoyed wide support in Vancouver.
Toronto City Council asked the federal government to impose a handgun ban on its city limits in June after a shooting on the Danforth killed two people and injured several others. Montreal followed suit on Monday, asking for a national ban on handguns and assault rifles, reported CTV News.
But the departure of Woods is another blow to the Surrey First lineup, which has reigned in a 10-year dynasty that began with Mayor Dianne Watts, but this summer lost Barbara Steele and Bruce Hayne to the startup slate “Surrey Integrity Now.”
Gill is using RCMP-commissioned report that says there are 840,000 restricted or prohibited guns in Canada, almost double the number recorded in 2005, to make his strong stance against guns.
“As Mayor, I will leave no stone unturned in getting guns out of the hands of criminals. That means talking to the federal government about tougher sentencing, looking at a potential made-in-Canada gun buyback program as they’ve done in Australia, or banning certain weapons outright. Public safety has got to trump gun ownership every time.”
Gun crime is up across the country after a several-year lull, with the proportion of murders across the country rising from about 31 per cent in 2006 to 37 per cent in 2016. The lower mainland and Fraser Valley, including Surrey, has seen a steep rise in gun violence and gangland murders over the last few years.