A group that’s fighting for the RCMP to remain as Surrey’s police force says it’s gathered more signatures on a petition to that end than the number of votes a Surrey city councillor received in the 2018 civic election, and it’s closing in on a second civic politician.
Ivan Michael Scott, coordinator of the Keep the RCMP in Surrey Campaign, says his group has to date collected 30,337 signatures. That’s 289 more than the 30,048 votes Councillor Mandeep Nagra, of the Safe Surrey Coalition majority on council, received at the polls. Nagra, he noted, “does not reside in Surrey but lives in Delta.”
Scott said his campaign is now aiming to collect more petition signatures than votes received by Councillor Allison Patton, “who too lives outside of Surrey in White Rock, and who managed to get only 33,116 votes.
“We shall overtake this number as well, in the near future,” Scott vowed. “We will then justifiably again claim that it is we, the Keep the RCMP in Surrey Campaign, who speaks for Surrey and not the mayor and his four councillors when it comes down to wanting the RCMP to go or not, and it is a resounding not.”
Scott said the campaign is “well on the way to achieving out publicly stated goal of 50,000 signatures on our petition and which we then will present as a motion to the BC Legislature as soon as possible.”
At Surrey council’s inaugural meeting on Nov. 5th, 2018 it served notice to the provincial and federal governments it is ending its contract with the RCMP – which has policed these parts since May 1, 1951 – to set up its own force. The city’s new force is expected to “go live” on April 1, 2021. The NDP government gave the city approval to establish its own police force in August.
“We think this is so wrong,” Scott said of the city transitioning to its own police force. “This whole thing that’s happening is so wrong. I’ve come across a handful of people that have said no, we don’t want the RCMP, we want a new force. I’ve got 30,000 people that have signed my petition, and it’s not slowing down.”
Meantime, the City of Surrey’s website’s bio on Nagra says the councillor and his wife “are proudly raising our family in Surrey,” while Patton’s states, “I have raised my family in Cloverdale, White Rock and South Surrey.”
“I live in White Rock, that’s right,” Patton told the Now-Leader. “I don’t think it should be a concern to anybody but I do think they are making hay of it. I had spoken to the man who runs that campaign, Ivan, and I’d asked him to be respectful and I haven’t found that to be the case. But I have no problem with differences of opinion on anything; I think that positive outcomes thrive on different ideas, and I really support all of us working together to get the best outcome. I don’t support a lack of respect between people.”
Asked how Scott has been not respectful to her, Patton replied, “I may not want to talk about that, but he’s aware of it and his group have had to be dealt with at different events when they were not being respectful. I’ve even had reporters call me to apologize that they had to witness some of the things they witnessed. That’s just, as people say, part of the political experience.”
Scott, for his part, is flabbergasted by Patton’s accusation. “I have been very, very respectful towards her and I’ve never treated her like anything different than that. I’ve always understood that respect is the best way that people can communicate together.
“She can make up stories like that, and say I do not want to talk about that. Talk about it, tell me about the non-respectful sort of stuff that I’ve done to you,” Scott said. “I can assure you absolutely, categorically – categorically – I’ve never been disrespectful to her.”
Nagra told the Now-Leader, shortly after he was elected, that he lived in Panorama Ridge. “Now I live in North Delta,” he said Thursday.
At first he didn’t want to discuss it, but later in the interview explained why he moved and that he intends to soon call Surrey home once again.
“I’ll tell you a little bit about this Delta thing – a year and a half ago, I had no idea I’m going to be running in city council’s election and all that, and we were expecting a baby. He was born four days after the election, and you know, then I become a city councillor, now a new baby, so much responsibility. My parents, they were living in North Delta and they just finished a new house, building a new house last year, and you know I had no other option other than to move in with them. So my mom and dad, they helped me out with the little ones, and my wife’s still home – she’s planning to go back to work soon. So those situations, I had no other choice but to move in with the parents.”
Nagra said their Fraserview Meats chain of stores – a business his father started in 1994 – has “about nine stores” in Surrey and employs more than 25 people. “We have a number of properties that we pay property taxes in Surrey, we create jobs. We’re doing our best to make sure the city grows and we’ve made jobs for the people, the residents.”
Nagra said his family will be moving back to their Surrey home “maybe in the next couple of months, moving back to the place where I was living before. It was more of a temporary situation.”
As for the movement to keep the RCMP in Surrey, Nagra noted that “people of Surrey voted this slate in, this council, and our number-one issue on our manifesto was Surrey’s own police department, and that’s why people voted for us. And all these people who live in Surrey, about their signatures, I don’t know how they’re getting them.
“There’s a few people that are very against the things that we’re doing in Surrey, for example the Surrey police, and with the RCMP,” Nagra said.
Meanwhile, Scott doesn’t think the projected $10 million in cuts to the RCMP’s provincial policing budget will in any way damage the Surrey RCMP’s prospects of being able to properly police this city.
“I don’t think it’s going to have anything to do with them whatsoever,” Scott said. “The RCMP in Surrey has a contract with the City of Surrey to police the City of Surrey. The city pays for the RCMP on a day-to-day basis, on a person-to-person basis there is a contract there. The RCMP will never, never fall away from that contract.”