Whether or not you are on side with the at least 42,942 Surrey residents who want a referendum on the city’s policing transition, you have to give petition organizer Darlene Bennett and her team top marks for tenacity.
The petitioners on Monday delivered the signatures to Elections BC, which in short order determined the effort failed under the Recall and Initiative Act. That act says the signatures of at least 10 per cent of the registered voters in each of B.C.’s 87 electoral districts must be secured.
The petitioners, however, knew this would be the outcome from the outset and focused instead on canvassing Surrey, with the aim of demonstrating to provincial cabinet that a fair number of locals want a referendum.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says Elections BC’s announcement indicates it’s “clearly time to move on.”
However, that number 42,942 has to be concerning to his Safe Surrey Coalition, considering he was elected in 2018 with 45,564 votes, and the next civic election is looming.
In past months, notable Surrey leaders – former mayors Dianne Watts, Bob Bose, Linda Hepner and Liberal MP Ken Hardie among them – lended their support to the call for a referendum.
Now, the pressure is on Surrey NDP MLAs Mike Starchuk, Jinny Sims, Bruce Ralston, Garry Begg, Rachna Singh, Harry Bains and Jagrup Brar to reveal where they stand on this heated issue. Ralston and Bains are cabinet ministers, Singh is a parliamentary secretary, Begg is Government Whip and Brar is chairman of the NDP government caucus. These politicians have some pull.
Bose drew them a line in the sand on Tuesday.
“The petitioners have placed their trust in Cabinet to do the right thing, and they must not be betrayed,” he said.
It will be interesting to see what they will do.