They should stop giving false hope to RCMP officers
IN spite of all the vicious propaganda against Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition councillors Allison Patton, Laurie Guerra, Mandeep Nagra and Doug Elford as they went ahead with their election commitment to form a Surrey police force to replace the RCMP, they did end up achieving that goal last week when the provincial government gave the City of Surrey the green light to do so.
Unfortunately, those who failed in sabotaging the process to form a municipal police force are still going all out to try and intimidate the provincial government to reverse their decision – something that will not happen.
Sad to say, this is unnecessarily giving RCMP officers in Surrey false hope instead of allowing them to seriously consider their future options, including that of preparing to join the new police department. Such fine talent will surely form the backbone of the Surrey Police Department.
The demand for a referendum on a municipal police force has been pooh-poohed by the Province as only the City can hold a referendum. The Province cannot hold a referendum on a municipal matter.
“And why would the City hold a referendum when they voted unanimously in favour of it?” point out legal experts who note that McCallum ran on the platform that he was going to form his own police force.
They also point out that all councillors voted for the municipal police force just after the election. “When they were voting in favour of it, why didn’t they stop right there and say ‘ok look, let’s have a six-month study about what this is going to cost, how it’s going to be … put three people in charge and come back with a costing and everything else.’ They didn’t do that – they just went ahead and voted for it.”
They add: “And then when they got all the pushback from the RCMP crowd, then all these people split off into different sections.”
Councillors who oppose a municipal police force are Linda Annis, the sole Surrey First candidate, along with those who ditched the Safe Surrey Coalition after winning thanks to McCallum, Jack Hundial, Brenda Locke and Steven Pettigrew.
The legal experts also note: “The City was clearly within its right to ask for their own police force. The Police Act says that any city with a population of more than 5,000 can decide what type of police force they want. And they had the RCMP since 1951. So now they decided – and it’s their legal right to decide this – that we want our own police force.
“And by the way, Surrey is the largest city in Canada without its own police force and governance is the most important thing. By having your own police force, you can govern the police force. You can’t govern the RCMP – all the decisions are made in Ottawa. So that’s a big reason for having your own police force.”
They also explain the process: “When the City said that we want our own police force, they have to go to the Province because the Province is responsible for all the policing in the Province. The Province then has to entertain the application. They can’t say ‘oh, we are not going to give you the opportunity; after all, we like the RCMP.’ They can’t do that. Surrey’s got the right to get their own police force – and they have to pay for it, of course – but it’s their right to do it. So the idea to say ‘well, we want the RCMP by all these petitions and signatures,’ it really doesn’t mean anything after the City has already decided that.”
They also note: “The only authority that can stop the formation of a Surrey police force would be the provincial government, but why would the provincial government overrule the City Council? Can you imagine the fuss on that!”
They also point out that Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has said that he’s been getting all these emails and so on opposing a Surrey municipal police force and add: “He’s said this was Surrey’s decision – we had to comply with it. Period.”
What came as a slap in the face of those who had mounted this fierce campaign to discredit McCallum was a new Research Co. poll in January that showed that the mayor’s approval rating was 50 per cent. The poll also found that the current administration in Surrey has a higher ranking than the previous one on issues such as promoting tourism (from 39% to 64%), dealing with transportation (from 24% to 57%) and enhancing quality of life (from 36% to 68%). The poll shows that Surrey has done a good job on all fronts.
The data was statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age and gender – as well as different areas of the city for fairness.