Co-founder of the “left-leaning” Proudly Surrey slate has announced that if elected, the team would order the creation of a Rita Johnston statue at city hall and rename the Pattullo the Bob Bose Bridge.
“For a century, the Bose Family has been a major part of the fabric of our hometown,” tweeted Stuart Parker, who is also a former BC Green Party leader. “We need to honour our people.”
Parker said Johnston, a former Surrey city councillor, “broke a major glass ceiling” when she became the first female premier in Canadian history, succeeding Bill Vander Zalm. She held the position from April to November, 1991.
Parker also promised that, if elected in the civic election on Oct. 20, Proudly Surrey wouldn’t move any public art in the city, referring to Victoria council’s decision to remove the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald and replace it with a plaque, which was done last week.
The decision to remove it was made in 2017, “so that the family members and other Indigenous people do not need to walk past this painful reminder of colonial violence each time they enter the doors of their municipal government,” according to Mayor Lisa Helps.
But Proudly Surrey says they wouldn’t follow in those footsteps.
“Unlike Victoria’s council, Proudly Surrey doesn’t want to make curatorial decisions about where to put public art,” Parker tweeted. “We want to focus on more arts funding (and) more gallery space.”
The party also vows to “take control of their city” on a number of issues.
Proudly Surrey has previously called for an end to the Surrey RCMP contract, and says if elected, it would work to pull out of TransLink.
Its school board candidates also promise to “retake control” of the city’s school system.
Trustee candidate Rina Diaz said “Victoria has usurped our power to run our schools and the results have been disastrous.”
“Until the 1990s, our school board set staffing levels, hired teachers and other workers and negotiated contracts to deliver services to our students; we set the agenda on school construction and maintenance and ran capital plans that built our system,” she said. “For the past generation, Victoria has usurped our power to run our schools and the results have been disastrous.”
The trustee hopefuls say they want Education Minister Rob Fleming to allow Surrey to “voluntary secede from PSEA (Public School Employers’ Association) and start building and staffing its schools based on local decisions and community needs.”
“If the BC government will not voluntarily let us out of PSEA so we can go back to negotiating with the CUPE and BCTF locals in our city, we are prepared to take a legal argument to the Supreme Court,” said Diaz.
Another school board candidate with the party, Dean McGee, said “it is no coincidence that we have inactive, disengaged school trustees in Surrey. It is not just because of the age of our trustees or the fact that they are all from the same party. It is because most of our taxation power and decision-making power was moved to an office in Victoria in the late 90s.”
Other teams running in the upcoming election include Surrey Students Now, Surrey Integrity Now, Surrey First, Safe Surrey Coalition and People First Surrey. It’s not yet clear if the Surrey Community Alliance party will still run its slate of candidates, after president Elford decided last week to instead run with Safe Surrey Coalition.
Surrey voters head to the polls on Oct. 20.