Surrey City Hall Council Chambers (Now-Leader file photo)

Surrey City Hall Council Chambers (Now-Leader file photo)

Businessman sues Surrey councillor for questions raised about meeting with NDP minister

Bob Cheema alleges Jack Hundial’s comments ‘injured his character, credit, and reputation’

A Vancouver-based businessman who played a key role in Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum’s two previous election campaigns is suing Surrey Councillor Jack Hundial for defamation.

The lawsuit centres on comments made by Hundial at a Sept. 16 council in which he asked questions about Bob Cheema’s apparent attendance at a Nov. 2, 2018 meeting between McCallum and the Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, according to the minister’s online itinerary.

Hundial asked that city staff advise council at its next meeting in what capacity Cheema attended, why he was present, and what advice he provided at the meeting. He also asked why the mayor’s personal friend, with no official status with the City of Surrey, would meet with the solicitor general, noting the topic of the meeting was listed as traffic fine revenue sharing.

In a Notice of Civil Claim filed Oct. 4, Cheema alleges Hundial’s assertions implied he was of “unethical, dishonest and of disreputable character” and denies being at the meeting in question.

“Prior to tabling the Motion and publishing the Statement, Hundial failed to verify whether the plaintiff was present at the Meeting,” the suit states.

READ ALSO: Businessman sues over tweets regarding his connection to Surrey mayor, policing plan

SEE MORE: B.C. cabinet minister denies that Surrey mayor’s friend attended government meeting

The day after Hundial raised the comments, Farnworth’s office told the Now-Leader via email that the minister “did not meet with Bob Cheema.”

“Mr. Cheema’s name was referenced in the calendar as he was the one who reached out to book the meeting during the interim period that Mr McCallum was Mayor-elect,” the statement read.

The mayor also denied Cheema’s attendance, saying any suggestion he was is “categorically false” and that Cheema “has never been present at any meetings I’ve had with the minister.”

Cheema argues that by reason of Hundial publishing the motion and making comments to the media he “has been exposed to public scandal and contempt, all of which have caused him personal embarrassment, distress and humiliation.”

He also takes issue with Hundial “implicating” him “in a dispute about municipal politics and public policy” in Surrey.

Cheema’s suit states he asked Hundial, through his lawer, to apologize and retract his comments but that Hundial has not agreed.

Cheema is seeking an injuction to restrain Hundial from speaking to the media, writing, or posting any further comments in the matter. He’s also seeking general, punitive and aggravated damages, arguing “the malicious, high-handed and arrogant conduct of Hundial” warrants it.

Hundial has 21 days from Oct. 4 to file a response, which he had not yet done as of Oct. 9.

“If Mr. Cheema is seeking an apology, he should perhaps take it up with Minister Farnworth or those responsible for posting his schedule with incorrect information,” Hundial said in a statement to the Now-Leader. “Regardless, the underlying question is still in what capacity is an unelected, non City of Surrey employee who is not a registered lobbyist arranging meetings for government officials. And why is Mr. Cheema, a Vancouver resident, continually sending defamation letters to Surrey residents who voice an opinion and are exercising their democratic rights of free speech in their local government.”

Hundial said any further comments he’ll make on the matter will come through his counsel.

Cheema played a key role in McCallum’s last two election campaigns and the mayor-elect thanked the businessman in his acceptance speech last October, referring to him as a friend.

Meantime, Cheema is also suing former Surrey city council candidate Brian Young for defamation over a series of tweets regarding his connection to the mayor.

Several tweets are mentioned in Cheema’s suit, including six sent by Young from this past May and one from April.

“Doug and Bob hide their hand picked police Chief who just happens to be a deputy chief at #vpd,” one tweet alleges. Several refer to Cheema as “#backroombob.”

“The Tweets are false and defamatory,” Cheema’s suit states.

The civil claim states Young’s tweets implied Cheema was “unethical, dishonest and of disreputable character” and “encourages, facilitates and supports the abuse of power by elected representatives of the City of Surrey.”

Cheema is seeking an injunction to stop Young from posting further comments, as well as general, punitive and aggravated damages.

The claim was filed on June 3 and Young’s response was submitted on June 24.

In his reponse to the suit, Young argues the statements constituted a comment on a matter of public interest and were based on fact and denies the tweets caused actual loss, damage or expense to Cheema.

He claims that “on or about August 2018” Cheema told him he had already picked the chief of police.

“The Defendant made the tweet on an occasion of qualified privilege,” Young’s response states. “The Defendant has a legal, moral and social right, duty and interest as being involved in the Mayor’s campaign and possessing information relating to the Surrey Police transition.”

Further, Young alleges Cheema said he spent over $300,000 on McCallum’s campaign and, that he said “I control the South Asian media by paying host to report my stories.”

Young alleges Cheema also said he “paid cleaning staff at Surrey city hall and they retrieved items from councillors garbage.”

On Aug. 9, Young submitted a Notice of Application seeking Cheema’s civil claim be struck.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Amy on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News file)
People aged 30+ in Rutland, Summerland offered vaccine amid high transmission risk

Interior Health offers residents of Kelowna’s Rutland area and Summerland aged 30 and up chance at vaccine

Alex Hegedus (left) with his wife and two young children. (Contributed/Kelowna RCMP)
Family offers reward for information about Peachland man’s suspicious 2018 death

Alex Hegedus died under suspicious circumstances in March 2018

Al Kowalko shows off the province's first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Okanagan schools shifting gears to electric buses

Vernon, Central Okanagan, Rocky Mountain and Okanagan-Skaha on board

Two e-scooters parked on the sidewalk along Water Street in downtown Kelowna on Monday, May 3. Scooters parked on walkways are causing accessibility issues for some people with disabilities. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick summary of the stories that made an impact from May 3 to 5

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Lake Country firefighters assisted the RCMP on Kalamalka Lake Tuesday, May 4. (Fire Department file photo)
Okanagan RCMP interrupt houseboat break-in

Pair in their 30s arrested but no charges laid after alleged Kalamalka Lake incident

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

Most Read