City of Surrey at odds over public consultation for police force

Ashley Moliere / March 6th, 2018

Creating a municipal police force was one of Mayor McCallum’s campaign promises.
(City of Surrey)

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is standing his ground when it comes to not receiving anymore public consultation for the switch from the RCMP to a municipal police force. In a statement, McCallum said he and his team campaigned on the promise to create a Surrey Police Department.

“Our platform was abundantly clear, and the public was overwhelmingly in support of what we said we would do on its behalf, if elected.” – Doug McCallum, Mayor of Surrey

McCallum said the council unanimously voted in favour of cancelling the city’s contract with the RCMP the night they were sworn in. “For critics to now say that there is a lack of a mandate or public consultation for Surrey to have its own municipal police department shows little to no regard for our most basic democratic principle of respecting the will of the people,” he stated.

However, not everyone agrees with his stance. RCMP officer turned councillor Jack Singh Hundial cited the need for more public consultation before making the switch to a municipal force.

McCallum fired back at the former RCMP officer, noting the importance of delivering on his platform promises.

“The voters entrusted us to deliver on our promises and that is a trust that Councillor Hundial is now breaking. I have no intention of breaking my campaign promises or the public’s trust.” – Doug McCallum, Mayor of Surrey

In a series of tweets, councillor Linda Annis expressed her concerns over the lack of public consultation and said the community deserves more clarity on the issue.

More backlash

Chief Executive Officer of the Surrey Board of Trade, Anita Huberman, said the association wants the contract with the RCMP to stay in place. She said they are concerned about the costs associated with the switch for commercial and residential taxpayers because the council hasn’t been transparent enough.

“Voting is one thing, but public engagement on such a significant infrastructure decision is part of the democratic process.” – Anita Huberman, Chief Executive Officer, Surrey Board of Trade

Huberman said there is no evidence that a municipal police force will curb gang violence and enhance public safety in Surrey. She also said the Surrey Board of Trade has requested a meeting with the Solicitor General and the Minister of Public Safety to ask for a hold on this transition until there’s more public engagement.

BCIT News reached out to councillor Jack Singh Hundial and councillor Linda Annis for comment but they did not respond in time for the publishing of this article.