LETTERS: Don’t condemn the citizens of Surrey

Editor:

Re: A toast to more civil debate in the new year, Jan. 3 column.

While I certainly agree with Mr. Knill’s call for (a return to) civility, I must ask why the Surrey City version of events, or, perhaps the media reporting on the events, that occurred on the evening of Dec. 16, prior to and at the council meeting seems to be the only source of infomation on the matter that allowed impugning of the citizens of Surrey who attended the council meeting on Dec. 16, following the two rallies held in the rain outside City Hall.

The mayor addressed one group, but did not speak to the other, larger and far-more-representative group, asking for adjustments to the budget for security and social and other services. The mayor refused to acknowledge even the presence of the completely orderly group of more than 200 people, some of whom later attended the council meeting and expressed their displeasure.

The mayor did address a group consisting of about 100 men, a few women and two children, carrying commercially made signs and surrounded by uniformed security guards and city bylaw officers in a square cordoned-off completely with physical barriers.

He told the group, “you will get a police force” (paraphrased).

How can you have civilized discussions when the ostensible leader of the city refuses not only to engage but actively favours only one segment of the population?

At no time was there animosity shown by either group, until the mayor’s behaviour provoked people.

It is subtle attacks such as these, using plucked events taken out of context, that help to create divisiveness and contribute to the very conditions the editorial rightly decries. To write that those citizens, a varied cross-section of Surrey residents, lack reason and are basically unable to participate in reasoned discussion is disingenious at best.

The mayor brought upon himself any anger displayed, through both his behaviour and questionable pursuit of an agenda on behalf of relatively few residents and certain businessmen, personified by the individual named in his 2018 acceptance speech to the community, but at the present and future expense of a huge majority of Surrey residents.

I have spoken personally to more than 400 Surrey residents in public places in the city; of which about 85 per cent do not want a Surrey police force, 10 per cent are undecided or don’t care and a handful would not engage or were in favour of the proposition.

How can our democracy survive when Mayor McCallum’s behaviour and acts deny the voices raised against the policing and other issues? This the root of the problem; where is the investigative journalism and why is this matter not being examined more thoroughly by the media?

I am a very concerned resident of the City of White Rock, the mouse city sleeping beside the elephant city, and whose residents are aware of why policing has to be provincially regulated.

Chip Bowness, White Rock

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