Risky but ambitious petition to keep RCMP in Surrey officially launched
The first person to sign a petition against a new police service in Surrey was met with a round of applause Tuesday afternoon.
The small celebration was short lived, because canvassers know they have a lot of work to do, in a limited amount of time, and ultimately the law is against them.
Yet the team from The Surrey Police Vote seems undeterred. Members hope to collect enough signatures to force a referendum on the notion of abandoning the RCMP in favour of a city police force.
Under the Recall and Initiative Act, canvassers would need to collect signatures from 10 per cent of registered voters from each of B.C.’s 87 provincial election ridings.
Well aware most people living outside of Surrey probably don’t care much about the issue, and wouldn’t sign the document, the team is opting for a different strategy: Get as many signatures as possible in Surrey, and show the provincial government residents want a local binding referendum.
“I think it’s very realistic,” said Surrey Police Vote spokesperson Bill Tieleman. “I think any government, of any stripes, would have to listen if 10 per cent of the population of the second largest city in the province said, 'We want to do something differently.'”
Tieleman, who was a key player in the successful 2011 HST referendum, admitted this is a tougher sell, and will likely fall far short of what the law currently requires. But he believes this is an excellent tool for the team.
“I don’t think smart governments ignore their constituents,” said Tieleman.
The group will be holding signing opportunities in Holland Park on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and again at the same time on Sunday at Goldstone Park.
Signature sheets must be in the hands of Elections BC by Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.