Delta’s Organizing Against Racism and Hate Committee hosted a virtual all-candidates meeting on Oct. 6 to give candidates an opportunity to “talk about their own positions, as well as each party’s platform related to systemic issues of racism, hate and other injustices.” (James Smith photo)

Delta’s Organizing Against Racism and Hate Committee hosted a virtual all-candidates meeting on Oct. 6 to give candidates an opportunity to “talk about their own positions, as well as each party’s platform related to systemic issues of racism, hate and other injustices.” (James Smith photo)

VIDEO: Racism, policing discussed at Delta North all-candidates meeting

The virtual meeting was hosted by Delta’s Organizing Against Racism and Hate Committee on Oct. 6

Candidates for Delta North discussed racism, equity, policing and more during the first all-candidates meeting in the riding last week.

Hosted by Delta’s Organizing Against Racism and Hate Committee, the virtual meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6 was billed as “an opportunity for candidates to talk about their own positions, as well as each party’s platform related to systemic issues of racism, hate and other injustices.”

BC Liberal Party candidate Jet Sunner and BC NDP candidate Ravi Kahlon both took part in the meeting. BC Green Party candidate Neema Manral did not attend.

RELATED: Three candidates running in Delta North

After delivering their opening remarks, the candidates each named their privileges before sharing their personal journeys in addressing racism.

Kahlon spoke first, focusing on the work he’s done in the last three years as both MLA for the riding and parliamentary secretary for sport and multiculturalism, including helping re-establish B.C.’s Human Rights Commission, his government’s adoption of the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) and other work around hate crime and anti-racism files.

“I’m proud we have the only independent human rights commission in North America, completely independent of government. And that was important because when I spoke to Indigenous leaders in particular, they said how can you have … a body that’s going to try to speak for us and with us when it’s a part of the colonial system,” Kahlon said.

Kahlon further said he was proud of his party’s platform commitments in this area, including bringing in race-based data collection across all aspects of government “so that we can call out systemic racism within our systems,” and modernizing the Police Act and the Multiculturalism Act.

“It’s way out-dated, and I think people are just tired of the funding song-and-dance. I think people want to see real substance and getting at the real issues, and that’ll be a critical piece,” he said.

Sunner, meanwhile, spoke to his experiences with racism growing up an immigrant in Victoria and not speaking English, admitting to being “maybe even slightly confrontational when it came to anyone being bullied or any kind of incidents that I saw.”

“That’s probably why I got into policing: I didn’t like any kind of injustice or anybody being victimized for anything. That bothered me.”

The longtime RCMP officer spoke about the work he’s done to bridge the gap between the Punjabi community and law enforcement, and about starting Team Izzat — a group of police officers and university students who volunteer their time to connect with youth — in 2004 to combat negative media attention at the time around South Asian youth, gangs and drugs.

“My thing was, you know what? Ninety-nine per cent of kids from all backgrounds are good people and we can’t be using this stereotype because it can really hurt people,” Sunner said. “We saw it in the Aboriginal community, we saw it with Black people in the United States. So I never want to see that.”

“I think all those efforts really helped, but there’s so much more we can do.”

The candidates next spoke about what they would do to address violence towards — and the normalization of violence against — Indigenous people.

Kahlon spoke first, saying unequivocally that systemic racism exists “in all our institutions,” and again pointed to DRIPA as a key part of addressing the issue.

“It’s not just health care. We’ve got challenges in policing, we’ve got challenges in housing, we’ve got challenges in land-based decision-making. And so I think the cornerstone of how we address these issues is DRIPA.”

Further, he said raising the minimum wage and addressing income inequality will also help address systemic racism.

“I can’t sit here and tell you we’re going to fix it overnight; I wouldn’t be honest with everybody if I said that’s possible. But what is possible is acknowledging the problem and bringing everyone to the table to start having the difficult conversations to move these files along.”

Sunner began by saying how sickened and angered he was by cases like the deaths of George Floyd in the U.S. and Joyce Echaquan in Quebec, before speaking to the responsibility police have in their community.

“We are given so much power, and everything we do and say, especially when wearing that uniform, affects people for life,” he said.

Sunner spoke to the need to work together and not “play politics” before acknowledging there is more that can be done in terms of police training.

He also stressed the need to focus on early education to combat systemic racism and by extension many of the issues that stem from it.

“Kids are very impressionable. That’s where we can tackle so many issues before drugs, before homelessness, and also just for hatred, to address that.”

The candidates were also asked several questions about policing: namely what role police have in perpetuating and helping stop systemic racism, and whether the candidates support calls to re-establish the special committee to reform the Police Act; remove cops from schools, mental health initiatives and off of Indigenous lands; and redirecting funds from policing into community-led harm reduction initiatives.

Sunner, in answering the first question, said police are the most visible — “that’s where the videos come from that shock people” — and that it’s unfortunate people “politicize” incidents.

“To me, racism and policing are two different topics.”

Sunner stressed the importance of being honest with the public and getting the full story out as quickly as possible, suggesting something like an extension of the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO), the province’s police watchdog, be dedicated to investigating these incidents.

“I know they only have so many resources and they’re dedicated to more serious stuff, but to me this is very important, that we have a body that looks at this as well and can investigate it in a lot faster time and get out the results so we can start tackling this issue so there isn’t that divide,” Sunner said. “To me, the police are part of the community, and we need to bring that back so we can move forward and become a better community.”

Sunner said police training and hiring practices could help and acknowledged there may be calls that police don’t need to respond to such as medical calls, before lauding a program he helped start in Richmond where mental health nurses accompany officers attending mental health calls.

“When it’s a 911 [call], someone is suicidal or they want to hurt someone else, […] the police need to attend. We can’t stop those programs, a lot of people will get hurt or killed,” Sunner said.

“I think when we politicize it, it becomes us versus them. And really, policemen are part of the community. […] To me, hopefully, the good people in the community are in policing.”

“I think we need the police. We are establishing more community engagement, more community policing, and we need to make sure that we have the right leadership to continue those types of programs [so] that when people call, they get the police officer they can trust to deal with their 12-year-old. That should be a protective person, someone that’s going to take care of them.”

Kahlon in turn spoke of his party’s commitment to calling an all-party committee to reform the Police Act, specifically highlighting the need to look at police training and procedures surrounding wellness checks, and collecting race-based data that will allow both government and police to “see where the challenges are so we can address those challenges.”

He also said local police departments should all have dedicated hate crime units.

Later, the candidates were asked to name three tangible actions their respective parties would take to make meaningful strides in addressing racism and inequity in B.C.

Sunner said his party would fight for education, tougher anti-hate laws and more resources for police to develop anti-racism programs.

Kahlon reiterated his party’s commitment to collecting race-based data and modernizing the Police Act, as well as having greater representation of diverse people within government and the public sector.

Other topics touched on during the meeting include the ongoing opioid crisis, supporting people with disabilities, addressing the housing crisis, inequities revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and maintaining candidates’ allyship in the face of offensive comments from members of their respective caucuses.

Video of the full meeting, as well as one held for candidates in Delta South on Oct. 7, is available for viewing on the Delta OARH Committee’s Facebook page, or watch the embedded video below.

The Delta Chamber of Commerce is hosting a virtual all-candidates meeting for candidates running in Delta North on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. Residents can watch the all-candidate meeting on the Eastlink Community TV channel and on the Delta Chamber of Commerce Facebook page facebook.com/DeltaChamberofCommerce.

Questions can be submitted in advance to Lydia Elder, manager of policy development, government & stakeholder relations for the Delta Chamber of Commerce, at lydia@deltachamber.ca.

READ MORE: Delta Chamber of Commerce to host virtual all-candidates meetings

The Delta Residents Association has also scheduled a Zoom-based all-candidates meeting for Saturday, Oct. 17. The meeting will be limited to just the candidates and moderator and will not be live-streamed, however a video recording will be available on the DRA’s website (groupspaces.com/DeltaResidentsAssociation) as soon as the next day.

Questions for the candidates can be submitted by email to delta.residents@gmail.com.

Advance voting begins on Thursday, Oct. 15 and runs through Wednesday, Oct. 21, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with general voting on Saturday, Oct. 24. Visit elections.bc.ca/voting/where-to-vote for more information about where and how to cast your ballot.

For full election coverage, head to northdeltareporter.com/tag/bc-politics.



editor@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC politicsBC Votes 2020DeltaNorth Delta

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

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Delta View Care Centre (Google Street View image)
COVID-19 outbreak over at Delta long-term care facility, says Fraser Health

Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre outbreak first declared on Nov. 1, 2020

Judy and Ken Reid share a smile at Peace Arch Hospital in 2018. Judy raised concerns last month about how the COVID-19 vaccine would be rolled out. Now, she says no one is telling residents or families when they will start to see restrictions ease. (Contributed photo)
Timeline for reduced restrictions in long-term care a concern for spouse of South Surrey senior

‘We’re not yet at that point,’ says provincial health officer

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Police called to Surrey home for report of weapon, man taken into custody

Surrey RCMP say people evacuated from house, one found in a bedroom ‘hiding from police’

Students at Creekside Elementary in Surrey wrote letters to seniors over the holidays, and are planning to write more for Valentine’s Day and Family Day. (Photo: surreyschools.ca)
Surrey elementary students connect with seniors through letter writing

Creekside students planning to send more cards for Valentine’s Day

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment Mission, has break-out year

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Giants defenceman Bowen Byram has recorded his first NHL career point (Rob Wilton/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram records first NHL career point with Colorado Avalanche

Player with Langley-based WHL franchise assisted on goal against the Ducks

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Most Read