Is Surrey Liberal MP Ken Hardie a lone voice in the wilderness by calling upon the city to hold a referendum on its plan to replace the Surrey RCMP with a city police force?
Surrey’s four other MPs appear to be dodging the issue.
The MP for Fleetwood-Port Kells wrote in a guest column published in the Now-Leader last week that while “senior governments do not often get involved in purely local matters,” the “switch to a city police force has emerged as a big and costly decision.”
“I’m calling for either a referendum or a ballot question in the next municipal election,” Hardie also told the Now-Leader. “I think what I’m calling for is to have the public make the final decision. What we heard in the campaign, the promise from Doug and his coalition, was very aspirational but nobody knew the implications – what it would mean, what it would cost, etcetera.”
If Sukh Dhaliwal, Liberal MP for Surrey Newton, has an opinion on the matter, he’s keeping it to himself. But at least he replied to our request for comment.
“The prime minister and minister’s position has been very clear that policing is a local government responsibility, you know, and we are going to support the City of Surrey, whichever direction they want to go,” Dhaliwal said Friday (Dec. 6). “We want to stay out of it and if there’s a transition we want to make sure this is done in a very safe manner and whatever it needs to support the safety, we will provide our support to the local government and we would not interfere in their decisions.”
Did Hardie cross the line, then?
“Every citizen of Surrey has his own opinion and I respect democracy, I respect people’s point of view but I as an elected representative from Surrey-Newton, I stand with the prime minister and with the minister of emergency preparedness and CDSA,” Dhaliwal replied.
As a citizen living in Surrey, is Dhaliwal preferring not to say if he agrees with Hardie or not?
“Right now I’m an elected representative. I have my personal view but I respect the people had the confidence, their continued confidence in me, and I want to respect that office,” Dhaliwal replied. “As their elected representative I would rather focus on the people of Surrey-Newton than on my own.”
So, is Dhaliwal then abstaining from sharing his opinion?
“However you take it,” he said.
Tamara Jansen, Conservative MP for Cloverdale-Langley City, had a legislative assistant email a statement to the Now-Leader on her behalf.
“It is always important for local governments to listen to the needs of their constituents,” Jansen’s statement reads. “Of course, this is a decision for the local community to make. I hope it’s one that ensures that taxpayers get value for their money and that the public is kept safe.”
The Now-Leader has encountered no evidence that Surrey’s two other MPs – Liberal MP for Surrey Centre Randeep Sarai and Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, South Surrey-White Rock – have a position on the referendum that they wish to share publicly, as neither has replied to repeated requests for comment.