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Solicitor general blasts Surrey mayor's characterization of an 'NDP police service'

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke fired the latest volley Monday in the ongoing saga of policing in the city.

“The government does not have the right to run roughshod over every local government that doesn’t bend to their will,” she said at a press conference, during which she announced the City of Surrey is filing an amended court challenge on top of one it launched weeks ago.

Their most recent challenge claims the province's recent legislation—aimed at helping the transition from the RCMP to a municipal police force—is unconstitutional.

“This is not a Surrey Police Service, this is an NDP police service that reports to the solicitor general directly,” said Locke.

“We’ve had tragedies this year involving police officers, funerals, so for the mayor to say ‘Oh it’s an NDP police’ I think quite frankly, it’s a disgrace,” said Solicitor General Mike Farnworth Monday, responding to Locke’s comments.

Last Thursday, the province suspended the police board -- including Mayor Locke-– temporarily replacing its members with one administrator, former Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr.

That move prompted polarizing reactions. Former solicitor general, Kash Heed, called it provincial overreach Monday.

“That’s not how parliamentary procedure, that’s not how policy is developed here in Canada, and that’s certainly not how we develop policing,” said Heed, also a former police chief in West Vancouver.

Former attorney general, Wally Oppal, disagreed, characterizing the move as necessary under the circumstances.

“The province has decided that the mayor sitting as the chair of the police board cannot adequately discharge her duties when she has an obvious conflict,” said Oppal on Monday.

Locke, who campaigned last fall on a promise to reverse the transition to a municipal force, has said the transition will cost Surrey taxpayers close to half a billion dollars more over the next 10 years than if they stuck with the RCMP.

“This is an NDP tax on Surrey,” said Locke Monday.

The province has offered $150 million to help with the costs. Farnworth has disputed Locke’s claims of costs associated with the transition, and is adamant it’s going ahead.

“The decision has been made,” he said Monday. “The future of policing in Surrey is the Surrey Police Service.”

Serr will present a police budget to council on Nov. 30. Locke warns that a continued move to the SPS could mean a 20 per cent tax hike for Surrey residents.

“If the NDP police board puts forward a budget that Surrey residents can’t afford, the city will not approve it,” she said defiantly.

The province says there are mechanisms to respond to a rejected budget, under the Police Act. Top Stories


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