An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)

Liberals accuse Starchuk of flip-flop on policing transition

But Starchuk says he’s never changed his tune

Suddenly, when it comes to Surrey’s controversial policing transition, some MLA candidates are being criticized for changing their tune. Still others have either broken their silence or remain so.

Before the election campaign began, Surrey’s Liberal and NDP MLAs were mostly content to let Surrey city council members duke it out over the transition while they sat at the sidelines. The only local politician, at a higher than civic government level, to speak his mind on the issue was Liberal MP Ken Hardie, representing Fleetwood-Port Kells.

Hardie penned a guest column in the Now-Leader last December arguing that the city should hold a referendum on its plan to replace the RCMP.

READ ALSO HARDIE: With so much uncertainty, Surrey needs referendum on policing transition

Ivan Scott, organizer of the Keep the RCMP campaign in Surrey, says it’s “wonderful” that one of the parties – the provincial Liberals – have come out and “listened to the people.”

But Scott told the Now-Leader on Monday that until now Surrey’s Liberal MLAs have been silent on the issue.

“We were very disappointed in all of them, in actual fact,” Scott said. “We thought that this was an opportunity that they could have taken it to hold the government’s feet to the fire, in actual fact, bring it up a long time ago.”

Still, he says, his organization is “non-partisan” and will endorse “whoever is going to be for us.”

READ ALSO: Liberal leader says referendum on Surrey’s policing transition would be in first half of 2021

Now that provincial battle lines have been drawn on the issue, with the Liberals promising to stage a referendum on it if they are elected into government, opinions abound.

The Liberals issued a press release Tuesday claiming former Surrey city councillor Mike Starchuk, who is running for the NDP in Surrey-Cloverdale, is “singing a different tune” now on the transition.

The Liberal release says Starchuk wrote “If there ever was a time in history to press pause, it’s now” on his blog in June and in a “since-deleted post” Starchuk said: “If McCallum thought for a minute that the majority of the residence (sic) of Surrey really wanted this, he would have a referendum to prove it.”

homelessphoto

Mike Starchuk, NDP MLA candidate for Surrey-Cloverdale. (File photo)

Marvin Hunt, Liberal incumbent and MLA candidate for Surrey-Cloverdale, says the NDP’s “silencing of candidates makes you wonder what the NDP is hiding.”

Starchuk told the Now-Leader on Tuesday that he didn’t “flip-flop.

“There seems to be a concern that I flip-flopped or something like that, and that’s not the case.”

“Public safety is paramount and transparency in the process has to be there. Public safety has to be number one. I’ve never changed that tune, ever,” he said. Starchuk said he was making reference to spending during the middle of a pandemic, and concerning the deleted post, he said, “It’s clear to me that that’s not the provincial responsibility.

“It actually existed,” he said of the post. “When I realized that in fact I was wrong in what I said, it didn’t make sense to keep it there so I corrected what I said.”

In retort, he accused Hunt of being silent on the policing transition issue until Wilkinson jumped on it, “and then Marvin comes out and makes this 30-second video, and all of a sudden it’s there.”

Jagrup Brar, NDP incumbent and MLA candidate for Surrey-Fleetwood, said “clearly” Wilkinson “has reversed the position taken by his own Surrey MLAs who have stated for months that this is a municipal responsibility” and “what I think is Andrew Wilkinson and the BC Liberals are trying to interfere in a Surrey municipal policing decision.”

The role of the provincial government is to ensure public safety is maintained, he said, “and that’s what we are doing.

“It’s very surprising that in the middle of the election Andrew Wilkinson is playing politics with a very serious public safety issue.”

homelessphoto

Jagrup Brar, Surrey-Fleetwood NDP incumbent and MLA candidate. (File photo)

Jinny Sims, NDP incumbent and MLA candidate for Surrey-Panorama, told the Now-Leader that a policing decision is a “municipal issue” and “large cities have the right to choose whether they have the RCMP or whether they want their own policing.”

“That is a municipal decision,” she said. “Where the province comes in, to make sure the transition comes in in an orderly manner and looks after the safety and security of people.

“I know that people of Surrey are very upset, but they also have to realize that I have taken their concerns, Keep the RCMP in Surrey, to the highest level,” she said. “I’ve raised their concerns with people, but at the end of the day the decision belongs to the City of Surrey.”

Stephanie Cadieux, Liberal incumbent and MLA candidate for Surrey South, told the Now-Leader prior to Wilkinson’s referendum promise on Sunday that “there has been a huge breakdown of public trust” related to the policing transition. “I have heard it in my riding. I have had more community connection related to this than any other issue in my time.

“This is largely a municipal issue but there’s provincial implications,” she said. “The reality is that the NDP have been silent on this despite the public outcry for information, the public outcry for transparency, the public outcry for it to take another look at this. I support transparency and engagement on this issue, as does my leader. I don’t know if a referendum is the right answer but the reality is there’s no doubt that there is a huge chasm that needs to be filled where it comes to providing the public with a clear picture of what the transition looks like, what it costs and how it is going to impact the taxpayer both in Surrey and provincially.”

Asked if a Liberal government would ensure that, Cadieux replied that “we would ensure transparency. There are mechanisms to do that and once we form government, we see where things are at, we can make sure that that happens.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

BC politicsBC Votes 2020Surrey

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

Just Posted

(Photo: Twitter@SurreyRCMP)
Surrey Mounties, pet owners, bracing for Halloween

Last year the Surrey RCMP received 147 fireworks complaints on Diwali and 121 on Halloween

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police investigating after another teen girl followed in Tsawwassen

Police say a man in a burgundy car approached teen girls on at least two, possibly three occasions

White Rock RCMP are searching for Richard John Lewis, who is wanted on warrants for assault and uttering threats. (RCMP handout)
White Rock RCMP searching for wanted man

Richard John Lewis is wanted on warrants for assault, uttering threats

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Seven more Surrey schools reporting COVID-19

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

The B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch has issued a decision about the actions of an elementary school teacher in Langley. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley elementary teacher suspended for grabbing, shoving, yelling at kids

Roxann Rojas will lose her legal authority to teach for two weeks from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7, 2020

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read