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Politicians face off over Surrey's policing saga during question period

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British Columbia's opposition parties slammed the NDP government’s decision to introduce new legislation that would prevent Surrey from keeping its RCMP detachment.

B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth introduced the new legislation Monday. It proposes amendments to the Police Act so that municipalities would have to follow through on policing transition plans.

Conservative MLA Bruce Banman fired shots at Farnworth and the NDP government during Tuesday’s question period.

“Why do they think they know better than the citizens of Surrey?” he said. “The NDP government is now taking an extreme, authoritarian approach."

His remarks echoed Mike Morris, a BC United MLA who had a previous 32-year career in the RCMP.

“The lawsuit and mess in Surrey represents a total lack of leadership by the premier,” said Morris, who also previously served as the public safety minister and solicitor general.

Farnworth did not budge on his decision and urged the city to move forward.

“It’s been delay after delay after delay by the City of Surrey. The legislation tabled would end that,” he said. “The decision was made by analysis done by the professionals in my ministry, by working with the RCMP, (and) by information supplied by the city of Surrey.”

Outside the chamber, Morris spoke to reporters about the new legislation, which he believes is overreaching.

“What we need is the municipality to make their decision and move forward with that decision without any interference from any other level of government, because they’re the ones who (are) paying the bill,” he said.

Meanwhile Premier David Eby was asked about the legislation Tuesday.

“The longer this drags out, the more expensive it gets,” he said. “It is very clear that the city will not be successful in any legal challenge. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

The province has previously committed up to $150 million to help with transitional costs, but Eby hinted that funding could increase.

“The province has committed to Surrey, we understand there are additional costs here, we will support them in that and I’m happy to have those discussions with Surrey,” Eby said.

On Monday, Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke said she was in the process of reviewing the legislation, but “wants to be clear” her stance has not changed.

Keeping the RCMP as the police force of jurisdiction in Surrey was one of Locke’s key campaign promises. 

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