For the first time, the four councillors who are not part of Mayor Doug McCallum’s slate have issued a “joint media statement” about the “rushed” policing transition plan.
“At the initial meeting, November 5, 2018, of this council we all voted to move towards a Surrey Police Force,” the statement read. It was issued Thursday morning on behalf of former Safe Surrey Coalition councillors Jack Hundial, Brenda Locke and Steven Pettigrew, along with lone Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis.
“The underlying assumption was that it would make Surrey a safer community for our residents. We did not expect the Police Transition Plan to be developed behind closed doors and without our advice or input,” it adds.
Further, the four councillors charge the “artificial deadline for the transition is extremely challenging, if not impossible” and say there is “no clear indication of the capital cost of this transition.”
The transition is going to be “much higher” than the suggested 10 per cent hike, they state.
“The risk that this transition will make Surrey a less safe community is just too high. Our primary duty to the citizens is effective public safety,” the statement reads. “Our citizens deserve to be heard and feel safe. The Mayor’s Transition Report does not measure up.”
The statement comes on the heels of Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum dissolving the city’s public safety committee and instead creating an Interim Police Transition Advisory Committee that only his Safe Surrey Coalition colleagues will sit on.
While Annis has said McCallum has “stopped listening to anyone who thinks differently” and Locke has slammed the mayor’s “my-way-or-the-highway approach,” the mayor disputes those notions.
“I look at myself as only a messenger of the people of Surrey, what they want,” he told the Now-Leader on Wednesday afternoon. “That’s how I’ve always felt in politics, and so I listen to what the public wants, and they want their own police force. I never act on my own at all.”
As for not inviting current members of his party to the table, McCallum said “it makes complete sense, on any type of committee, to have those people that have carried the message from the residents who want their own police force, to be part of that committee.”
The others, he said, “have spoken against our police force.”
In response to the four councillors’ joint statement, McCallum said in an emailed statement that politicians “are often taken to task for not keeping their promises.”
“Along with Councillors Elford, Guerra, Nagra and Patton, I fully intend to see through what I campaigned on and promised to do,” he said. “With the exception of Linda Annis, the Councillors who are now voicing their opposition were more than happy to promise to the voters that they would deliver on a city police department, if elected. It is disingenuous at best and, at worst, this is another cynical example of hollow promises made by those seeking office and doing an about-face once voted in.”
-With files from Tom Zytaruk