There is a term used in politics that describes campaigns that are presented as growing organically from the community but are actually driven, and funded, by more powerful interests operating behind the scenes. The term is astroturf, and it is a play on the artificial (turf) nature of such campaigns when compared with the grassroots community movements they aim to imitate.
The local campaign for a referendum on policing in Surrey is giving off a very strong scent of astroturf. And that scent trail is leading right back to the National Police Federation, the association representing RCMP members.
The NPF have previously used the website surreyssayonpolicing.com to oppose the new Surrey Police Service and to mobilize the public against the transition, including posting form letters for submissions to council against the transition. Now they’re trying to change the rules and get a regional, rather than provincial, referendum.
It is past time for the NPF to be transparent about its role in pushing the referendum and to show residents of Surrey, and indeed of the province, what exactly they have spent on this campaign in terms of resources and dollars.
Too much money has already been wasted on this policing fiasco. We do not need more public money to be spent on a self-serving astroturf referendum campaign by the NPF, presented as something it is not, a grassroots movement.
Dr. Jeff Shantz, Surrey