Surrey MP Ken Hardie is calling on city council to hold a referendum on its plan to replace the RCMP with its own city police force, given new information that’s come to light.
“I’m calling for either a referendum or a ballot question in the next municipal election,” Hardie, Liberal MP for Fleetwood-Port Kells, told the Now-Leader. “I think what I’m calling for is to have the public make the final decision. What we heard in the campaign, the promise from Doug and his coalition, was very aspirational but nobody knew the implications – what it would mean, what it would cost, etcetera.”
Hardie noted that when the Safe Surrey Coalition-dominated council unanimously voted to start the transition process at its inaugural meeting on Nov. 5, 2018, the new council “still didn’t know everything they needed to know.
The Surrey MP says the city’s 2020 budget, approved Monday, reveals that “our overall level of safety and security services will fall because of the shift of funding to cover the cost of the new police force.”
“Now we know more – maybe all we need to know, maybe not – but what we’ve seen so far suggests that we need to turn this back over to the public because of the implications,” Hardie said. “Not just the cost of doing what council envisions as far as the police service is concerned, but the cost, the things that we’ll forego because resources are being re-directed to the police service – amenities, firefighters, etcetera, etcetera.”
Hardie argues that now the implications of replacing the RCMP with a city police force are “more broadly known,” it becomes “more and more an issue that the public should have the final say on this, especially because I don’t think the mayor was elected with a mandate to do this, not the way that election turned out.”
He’s referring to how the Safe Surrey Coalition came up the middle “largely due to the split created when Surrey First devolved into two competing blocs.”
“Given what’s at stake,” Hardie said, it’s his view as a citizen and taxpayer Surrey residents “need more details, then we need to get our hands directly on the decision.”
“No final decision should be taken, nor should major expenditures be undertaken until Surrey residents are satisfied that this transition is truly in our best interests.”