Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth: Which way will he go? (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth: Which way will he go? (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

UPDATED: Hard lobbying on Surrey policing debate as Farnworth to receive city’s report Thursday

Farnworth is expected to reveal his decision early in the new year

Provincial Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth is getting a lot of mail, and we’re not talking Christmas cards.

On the eve of his expecting to receive a final report Thursday from the City of Surrey toward halting the policing transition from the RCMP to Surrey Police Service, both sides have been lobbying hard in an effort to sway his decision to their liking.

Farnworth is expected to reveal his decision early in the new year.

The Surrey Board of Trade issued a press release urging him to “Expedite Approval of Plan to Retain Surrey RCMP.”

Anita Huberman, president of the board, said her organization is “pleased that the City of Surrey intends to end this costly and unnecessary transition.

“After reviewing the report and accounting information, we have found that the transition to the SPS will create greater cost pressures for the business community in Surrey. There is no evidence that a new police force will reduce crime,” she said. “The Surrey Board of Trade urges Minister Farnworth to expediently review and approve the City of Surrey report that outlines the plan to end the transition.”

READ ALSO: Surrey council approves ‘draft’ of final plan to retain RCMP on 6-3 vote

Meantime, Wake Up Surrey’s Gurpreet Sahota wrote Farnworth reminding him that he attended a Wake Up Surrey rally in June 2018 “where overwhelming support for Surrey’s own police force within the South Asian community was truly born.”

“As parents and community activists, we humbly request that you carry on with this transition and show leadership in the face of political pressure from a very slim minority of the electorate,” Sahota wrote the minister. “Parents in Surrey see the Surrey Police Service as an essential lifeline.”

Ramona Kaptyn, who ran with Surrey Connect but did not get elected to council, is president of the Surrey White Rock Chapter of C.A.R.P. (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) and sent an email to Farnworth, copied to Premier David Eby saying she sent emails to Farnworth “on numerous occasions regarding her members’ desire to keep the RCMP in Surrey, B.C. One time only, she got a response saying it was a municipal matter and she should contact then Mayor Doug McCallum. McCallum hung up on Kaptyn several times.

“Now it seems Minister Farnworth is going to make the ‘final’ decision regarding the ‘police transition’. What has changed? Is it no longer a municipal matter? Does current Mayor Brenda Locke have a lesser voice than McCallum?” Kaptyn’s email queries.

Local Sikh Gurdwaras are collectively alleged to have penned Farnworth a letter under the heading “Overwhelming Support to Continue the Surrey Policing Transition.”

“This letter’s purpose is to convey the overwhelming support from the South Asian community in Surrey for the continuation to a municipal police force,” the letter reads.

“We strongly encourage you to continue what was already decided and begun towards a public safety regime that can properly address the needs of a city poised to be the largest in BC within a decade.”

But in a bizarre twist, a second letter was then sent to Farnworth, signed by representatives of local Gurdwaras Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, Gurdwara Sahib Amrit Parkash, Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib and Gurdwara Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib, warning him that the first letter “was not authorized by the Gurdwaras/Temples and fraudulently used our names and logos.” Representatives from Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara and Darbar Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji later added their signatures as well.

“On 12 December 2022, a letter was sent to you which we strongly condemn (the Letter”),” this second letter states.

“The letter is not reflective of our opinion and position,” this second letter states. “We recognize that there are some people that want to make Surrey’s policing decision political and create divisive in our community. Our Gurdwaras’ and Temples’ are places of faith and worship. Our attendees have different political views which have nothing to do with their religion.”

Narinder Singh, president of Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib at 152 Street and 68 Avenue, was one of those who signed the Dec. 14 warning letter.

“We don’t know who wrote that letter on 12 December.” Singh told the Now-Leader on Thursday. “They used our logos, they used our name but we have nothing of our know about that you know. So we didn’t sign actually on that. I don’t know who was that person who used our logos all the gurdwaras.

Ivan Scott of Keep the RCMP in Surrey also made a pitch to the minister.

“The KEEP THE RCMP IN SURREY (KTRIS) organization, representing >50,000 Surrey residents requests that you please, Minister Farnworth, acquiesce to the wishes of the majority of the Surrey populace, immediately stop the present transition to an SPS, and reinstate the RCMP as Surrey’s municipal police force,” Scott wrote in an email to Farnworth, copied to Eby. “I believe that it is the responsibility of a municipality to decide which type of police force to have and Surrey has chosen – RCMP. All costs spent to date will be absorbed by the City of Surrey and the best police force in the world will then be back where we deserve.”

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