Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke’s motion calling for the immediate suspension of the city’s policing transition process because First Nations have not been consulted on the plan to swap out the RCMP for a city-made police force has failed on a five-to-four split council vote.
Locke presented her motion at Monday night’s council meeting. She made her notice of motion on Jan. 27, asking that the process be suspended “until a sufficient, respectful and transparent consultation process that meets the federal, provincial and municipal obligations to consult with our First Nations peoples affected by the proposed changes has been adopted.”
But Mayor Doug McCallum ruled her motion out of order.
“I’m going to rule it out, on the advice of our lawyers and that,” McCallum said, and gave five reasons why.
“First of all, it goes against a unanimous council motion to cancel the RCMP contract and to work on our own police force. The second point is the topic has been examined and addressed by the provincial-municipal policing transition committee which is before the government currently,” McCallum said. “Third point, First Nations have relationships with senior levels of government, meaning the Province and the federal government, that determine the nature of the consultation.”
McCallum also said it is the role of the police board, “once it’s formed, to deal with this situation as they develop and hire police officers to work with our First Nations in Surrey, so the police board, when it does get formed, will play a key role in that future consulting.”
The fifth reason McCallum gave for finding Locke’s motion out of order, he said, is that there is “every likelihood” the Semiahmoo band, which he said is policed by a “completely different” contract than Surrey’s contract with the RCMP, will not be affected by Surrey’s changeover to its own police force.
“But that will be up to them to decide if they want to work out some contract with the police board to deal with that,” McCallum added.
“The last one is this whole subject is to be negotiated at a later time. It has been addressed by the committee that looked at the transition and the future of dealing with this rests with the new police board when it is formed by the government.”
Locke then spoke in rebuttal.
“Do we no longer at this chamber have to ask First Nations? We are a city that gathers here on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples and it would seem to me that it is appropriate that we consult with those peoples,” she said. “The fact that we did not do that is an error on our behalf and something that we have to correct. It doesn’t mean the process is over, it just means the process has to be slowed down so that we can consult with the Coast Salish people on the land that we are generously offered here.”
Locke then challenged McCallum to put it to a vote.
He did, and her challenge of his out-of-order finding failed on a five to four vote, with councillors Linda Annis, Jack Hundial, Steven Pettigrew and Locke voting in support of Locke’s motion and councillors Doug Elford, Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton, Laurie Guerra and Mayor McCallum voting against it.