PORT Coquitlam BC NDP candidate Mike Farnworth, reacting to the BC Liberals’ “misguided proposal” to interfere in a Surrey municipal policing decision, said on Sunday: “This flip-flop by Andrew Wilkinson and the BC Liberals is one more desperate act. This blatant disrespect is offensive to the City and citizens of Surrey who are quite capable of managing the affairs of their city, in accordance with their legal authority.
“This is a major violation of the relationship with a municipal level of government and an unwarranted interference in the affairs of the city of Surrey. The law makes it clear that this is a municipal decision. The role of the provincial government is to ensure public safety is maintained and that is what we will continue to do.
“For the worst of reasons, Andrew Wilkinson has reversed the position taken by his own MLAs, who have stated for months that this is a municipal responsibility. Just a few days ago, Wilkinson admitted that he did not know enough about this issue. Today he proved that statement was true.”
The NDP noted that:
* BC’s Police Act lays out very clearly that a municipality with more than 5,000 people is responsible for decisions about how to provide law enforcement in their community. (Police Act section 3, sub 2)
* Wilkinson admitted he is ‘not close enough to the issue to have thoughtful things to say about it’ (Mike Smyth Show, CKNW September 23, 2020).
* BC Liberal MLAs have repeatedly shown they understand the fact that this decision is up to the municipality:
– Rich Coleman: “We all know that the city of Surrey unanimously decided, as a council, that they wanted to change their police force about a year and a half ago. We now know that the government has done the right thing here” (Feb 13, 2020 Hansard)
– Stephanie Cadieux and Tracy Redies: “We don’t want to comment on the merits of a municipal force over the RCMP or vice versa. We do want to say thank you to the men and women in uniform that keep us safe and contribute so much to our community. We respect that this is by statute, a municipal decision to move forward.” (July 6, 2020 Facebook)
EARLIER, the B.C. Liberals said in a statement: “The NDP’s mismanagement of the Surrey policing issue has resulted in broken trust and lost confidence.
“The people of Surrey deserve better. From conversations with thousands of voters in this campaign, it’s clear that Surrey residents want a voice in the path forward.
“A BC Liberal government will pause the transition process, provide accountability and transparency, and then hold a referendum to put the final choice in the hands of Surrey residents.”
THE move is seen as a desperate move by Wilkinson, whose party is way behind the NDP – especially in the Lower Mainland – in all polls, to try and get some more support.
It is also an attack on democracy that shows the BC Liberals just cannot be trusted.
The VOICE has consistently pointed out:
1. Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum and seven of his Safe Surrey Coalition members won the election fair and square on the pledge that they would form a Surrey police force to replace the RCMP. In fact, all the eight new Councillors, including the lone one from Surrey First, voted to ditch the RCMP at the very first Council meeting.
2. The Police Act says that any city with a population of more than 5,000 can decide what type of police force they want. So, when the City of Surrey approached the Provincial Government with its proposal, the latter had no option but to give the go-ahead. In spite of three Councillors ditching McCallum’s group, the mayor still controls the majority vote in Surrey Council.
3. Among the tactics that the pro-RCMP forces started resorting to was the call for a referendum on the change in policing. However, legally, only the City can authorize such a referendum – the Province or the federal government cannot. Yet despite this fact, the RCMP bosses have been apparently inciting their supporters to carry on with that demand.
And, as we bluntly pointed out: “The fact is that the opposition is actually directed against the South Asians in Surrey. There has been blatant racism and many South Asians will stop cooperating with the RCMP if they succeed in sabotaging the new police force.
“That will create a very dangerous atmosphere in Surrey and will endanger everyone’s life. Make no mistake about it! (And don’t shoot the messenger!)”