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BC Liberals promise to pause Surrey's police transition, hold referendum

Last Updated Oct 4, 2020 at 3:00 pm PDT

FILE - A Surrey Police cruiser sits outside the Cloverdale Recreation Centre during the first open house about creating an independent police force in Surrey. (Marcella Bernardo, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

The BC Liberals are pledging to pause the transition to a municipal police force in Surrey if elected

Port Coquitlam BC NDP candidate Mike Farnworth issued a statement saying the proposal "is one more desperate act"

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum added he is appalled by the BC Liberal Leader's Sunday announcement

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — The BC Liberals are promising if elected, they will pause Surrey’s transition from RCMP to a municipal police force.

The party says it will then hold a referendum and leave the final choice in Surrey residents’ hands.

“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 release from the party reads.

The release adds, the Surrey policing issue under the NDP management has resulted in “broken trust and lost confidence.”

Sunday’s promise from the Liberals follows NDP leader John Horgan’s comments last month that the Surrey’s police transition is a “hornet’s nest” and that it’s Mayor Doug McCallum’s issue to deal with.

RELATED: Horgan says Surrey police transition is ‘hornets’ nest’, Mayor McCallum’s problem

In response to the BC Liberals announcement, Port Coquitlam BC NDP candidate Mike Farnworth issued a statement saying the proposal “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,” he says.

‚ÄúThis 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.”

The transition, which was a key promise by Mayor Doug McCallum in the 2018 municipal election, has been controversial, with some residents still actively trying to stop it.

The transition was approved in February by the NDP provincial government and the Surrey Police Board was appointed in June.

They’ve held a few meetings and applications for a police chief were accepted in August with McCallum hoping to announce a top cop by the end of the year.

The Greens have not said if they would interfere with the transition.

‘The Surrey Police Service is a done deal’

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum added he is “appalled” by the BC Liberal Leader’s Sunday announcement, saying the interference is a “level of desperation in an effort to garner votes.”

“The Surrey Police Service is a done deal and the BC Liberals are playing politics with the public safety of our residents,” McCallum says.

“Surrey City Council acted in accordance with the law when we unanimously voted to transition to a municipal police service. For the BC Liberals to interfere in the unanimous decision of an elected city council should be a concern to all municipal governments in our province.”

The transition, which has been a key promise by McCallum in the 2018 municipal election, has been controversial, with some residents still actively trying to stop it.

The transition was approved in February by the NDP provincial government and the Surrey Police Board was appointed in June.

They’ve held a few meetings and applications for a police chief were accepted in August with McCallum hoping to announce a top cop by the end of the year.

The Greens have not said if they would interfere with the transition.