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No ‘parade of witnesses’ in Surrey’s cop transition court case

‘It’s not an injunction that stops the transition, at all,’ SPS lawyer says
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke. (File photos)

Don’t expect a Perry Mason drama when Surrey’s petition for a judicial review of Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth’s decree the Surrey Police Service will police the city goes to court.

“A judicial review hearing is not a parade of witnesses to be cross-examined on decisions made in 2018, 2019, that sort of thing,” Kyle Friesen, the SPS’s in-house lawyer, told the Surrey Police Board on Jan. 19.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there on social media about what a judicial review can do and what it really is, and it’s definitely not that.”

A court date is not set yet.

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke announced in November that the city is challenging in court the ‘constitutionality’ of the provincial government’s decision to replace the Surrey RCMP with the Surrey Police Service.

On Oct. 13, the City of Surrey filed its first petition with the Supreme Court of British Columbia seeking a judicial review of Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth’s July 19 order to proceed with the SPS. An amended petition to the Oct. 13 filing was then submitted to the court on Nov. 20 with Locke characterizing it as a “significant step to stop the NDP police service” and a reply to the provincial government’s “attempted police takeover, which would require a double digit – double digit – NDP tax hike on Surrey taxpayers.”

READ ALSO: Surrey challenging ‘constitutionality’ of B.C. order imposing SPS on city

This latest petition is aimed at the provincial government amending the Police Act to specify that Surrey must provide policing services through a municipal police department which gave the solicitor general authority to cancel the existing agreement between the provincial government and the City of Surrey for the provision of RCMP services.

“The minister’s decision of July 19 to say yes SPS is now enshrined in the Police Amendment Act of 2023, that’s Bill 36, so as a result the judicial review petition had to sort-of reformulated by the city to bring up, as the province calls it, novel challenges, the charter rights and other issues like that,” Friesen explained. “So in summary, a petition itself does not stop the transition, it’s full-speed ahead with the parties involved like this.

“It’s not an injunction that stops the transition, at all.”

The province’s “comprehensive” response was filed Dec. 15 and a case management conference was held on Jan. 4 with Justice Kevin Loo assigned as judicial management judge which will “streamline the whole process, a very complex sort of thing,” Friesen said.

“In this judicial review neither SPS nor the RCMP nor the NPF (National Police Federation) nor the Surrey Police Union, they’re not parties to the actual judicial review at this point, so it’s just the city versus the attorney general of B.C., and also the minister of public safety and the solicitor general,” Friesen noted. “The review standard for a judicial review is not ‘correct’ decision, it’s whether it’s a reasonable decision made by the minister and the assistant deputy minister of police services. Reasonableness is the test.”

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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