An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)

Liberals accuse Starchuk of flip-flop on policing transition

But Starchuk says he’s never changed his tune

Suddenly, when it comes to Surrey’s controversial policing transition, some MLA candidates are being criticized for changing their tune. Still others have either broken their silence or remain so.

Before the election campaign began, Surrey’s Liberal and NDP MLAs were mostly content to let Surrey city council members duke it out over the transition while they sat at the sidelines. The only local politician, at a higher than civic government level, to speak his mind on the issue was Liberal MP Ken Hardie, representing Fleetwood-Port Kells.

Hardie penned a guest column in the Now-Leader last December arguing that the city should hold a referendum on its plan to replace the RCMP.

READ ALSO HARDIE: With so much uncertainty, Surrey needs referendum on policing transition

Ivan Scott, organizer of the Keep the RCMP campaign in Surrey, says it’s “wonderful” that one of the parties – the provincial Liberals – have come out and “listened to the people.”

But Scott told the Now-Leader on Monday that until now Surrey’s Liberal MLAs have been silent on the issue.

“We were very disappointed in all of them, in actual fact,” Scott said. “We thought that this was an opportunity that they could have taken it to hold the government’s feet to the fire, in actual fact, bring it up a long time ago.”

Still, he says, his organization is “non-partisan” and will endorse “whoever is going to be for us.”

READ ALSO: Liberal leader says referendum on Surrey’s policing transition would be in first half of 2021

Now that provincial battle lines have been drawn on the issue, with the Liberals promising to stage a referendum on it if they are elected into government, opinions abound.

The Liberals issued a press release Tuesday claiming former Surrey city councillor Mike Starchuk, who is running for the NDP in Surrey-Cloverdale, is “singing a different tune” now on the transition.

The Liberal release says Starchuk wrote “If there ever was a time in history to press pause, it’s now” on his blog in June and in a “since-deleted post” Starchuk said: “If McCallum thought for a minute that the majority of the residence (sic) of Surrey really wanted this, he would have a referendum to prove it.”


Mike Starchuk, NDP MLA candidate for Surrey-Cloverdale. (File photo)

Marvin Hunt, Liberal incumbent and MLA candidate for Surrey-Cloverdale, says the NDP’s “silencing of candidates makes you wonder what the NDP is hiding.”

Starchuk told the Now-Leader on Tuesday that he didn’t “flip-flop.

“There seems to be a concern that I flip-flopped or something like that, and that’s not the case.”

“Public safety is paramount and transparency in the process has to be there. Public safety has to be number one. I’ve never changed that tune, ever,” he said. Starchuk said he was making reference to spending during the middle of a pandemic, and concerning the deleted post, he said, “It’s clear to me that that’s not the provincial responsibility.

“It actually existed,” he said of the post. “When I realized that in fact I was wrong in what I said, it didn’t make sense to keep it there so I corrected what I said.”

In retort, he accused Hunt of being silent on the policing transition issue until Wilkinson jumped on it, “and then Marvin comes out and makes this 30-second video, and all of a sudden it’s there.”

Jagrup Brar, NDP incumbent and MLA candidate for Surrey-Fleetwood, said “clearly” Wilkinson “has reversed the position taken by his own Surrey MLAs who have stated for months that this is a municipal responsibility” and “what I think is Andrew Wilkinson and the BC Liberals are trying to interfere in a Surrey municipal policing decision.”

The role of the provincial government is to ensure public safety is maintained, he said, “and that’s what we are doing.

“It’s very surprising that in the middle of the election Andrew Wilkinson is playing politics with a very serious public safety issue.”


Jagrup Brar, Surrey-Fleetwood NDP incumbent and MLA candidate. (File photo)

Jinny Sims, NDP incumbent and MLA candidate for Surrey-Panorama, told the Now-Leader that a policing decision is a “municipal issue” and “large cities have the right to choose whether they have the RCMP or whether they want their own policing.”

“That is a municipal decision,” she said. “Where the province comes in, to make sure the transition comes in in an orderly manner and looks after the safety and security of people.

“I know that people of Surrey are very upset, but they also have to realize that I have taken their concerns, Keep the RCMP in Surrey, to the highest level,” she said. “I’ve raised their concerns with people, but at the end of the day the decision belongs to the City of Surrey.”

Stephanie Cadieux, Liberal incumbent and MLA candidate for Surrey South, told the Now-Leader prior to Wilkinson’s referendum promise on Sunday that “there has been a huge breakdown of public trust” related to the policing transition. “I have heard it in my riding. I have had more community connection related to this than any other issue in my time.

“This is largely a municipal issue but there’s provincial implications,” she said. “The reality is that the NDP have been silent on this despite the public outcry for information, the public outcry for transparency, the public outcry for it to take another look at this. I support transparency and engagement on this issue, as does my leader. I don’t know if a referendum is the right answer but the reality is there’s no doubt that there is a huge chasm that needs to be filled where it comes to providing the public with a clear picture of what the transition looks like, what it costs and how it is going to impact the taxpayer both in Surrey and provincially.”

Asked if a Liberal government would ensure that, Cadieux replied that “we would ensure transparency. There are mechanisms to do that and once we form government, we see where things are at, we can make sure that that happens.”

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

BC politicsBC Votes 2020Surrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Fleetwood teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 after an altercation left an elderly man in critical condition. (File photo)
Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

Fraser Health Overdose Alert.
Fraser Health issues Overdose Alert for Surrey

Health authority reports spike of overdoses in the last 24 hours

The many faces of Daon Glasgow. (Photos: Surrey RCMP)
Glasgow found not guilty of trying to murder transit cop in Surrey

Transit Police Constable Josh Harms was shot Jan. 30, 2019 at Scott Road SkyTrain Station

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read