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Surrey Police Union denied intervenor status in transition court case

Judge Kevin Loo decided ‘the SPU’s claim would effectively hijack the proceeding’
Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth. (Locke photo by Anna Burns, Farnworth photo courtesy of the provincial government)

The judge presiding over the City of Surrey’s petition to quash Public Safety Minister’s Mike Farnworth’s order to replace the RCMP with the Surrey Police Service has denied intervenor status to the Surrey Police Union, finding its participation would “likely” put the case on a “very different course than it is presently on.”

“I am of the view that if the SPU were allowed to participate in this proceeding as a party, the SPU’s claim would effectively hijack the proceedings by increasing the number of issues and the overall scope of the litigation,” Justice Kevin Loo decided on March 26 in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. “The result would be increased costs and delay, on this matter which needs to be determined in a timely way.”

The City of Surrey’s petition is set for a five-day hearing starting April 29.

“The SPU has not established that it ought to have been joined as a party, or that its participation in the proceeding is necessary to ensure that all matters in the proceeding may be effectually adjudicated on,” Loo found.

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke announced last November that the city is challenging in court the ‘constitutionality’ of Farnworth’s July 19, 2023 order to proceed with the SPS. Locke characterized 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: No ‘parade of witnesses’ in Surrey’s cop transition court case

Meantime, counsel for the SPU argued it’s necessary the union be added as a respondent in the court proceedings “because of the potential effect of the City’s submissions, if successful, on public safety in the community and because of its interests in the occupational health and safety of the police officers providing those services,” Loo noted in his reasons for judgment.

“It cites evidence regarding unresolved occupational health and safety complaints – that SPU members have disclosed to the SPU that the Surrey RCMP detachment is ‘toxic and hostile’ and that they have been subjected to ‘bullying, discrimination, harassment and intimidation,’” Loon added. The union also argued that it has a direct interest in the case because if the city wins its case, “the practical result will be that the SPU will be eliminated, together with the collective agreement negotiated by it on behalf of the SPS members.”

Loo noted that neither Farnworth’s decision or the City of Surrey’s positions related to its petition refer to workplace and ethics issues raised by the SPU and if the union were added as a party, “and it raised these issues, the City of Surrey would be obligated to file responsive materials.”

”In my view, the SPU has not established that it would bring a different and useful perspective to the issues before the Court, such that its viewpoint would assist the Court in the resolution of the issues to be determined.”

Loo reasoned that it he included the SPU as a participant “the litigation would be widened, the litigation would be taken away from those directly affected by it, and the parties would be compelled to deal with issues raised by others. The proposed intervenor would change the issues or expand the scope of the litigation, thereby commandeering the proceedings and placing an undue burden on the parties to respond to arguments and issues immaterial to their dispute.

The judge ordered the SPU pay costs for its application to the City of Surrey.

On the other side of the coin, the National Police Federation, which represents some 20,000 Mounties, is calling for an “end date” to the transition.

“We are once again calling for a clear and transparent plan to end the uncertainty and ensure fairness and respect to both our RCMP Members and all residents of Surrey,” NPF president Brian Sauvé stated in a press release issued March 25.

“Our Members have endured enough uncertainty, delay, political ploys, and even confusion from the government and the incoming police service.”

Former Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum initially predicted the SPS would be up and running by April 1, 2021.

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

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