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Brian Sauvé: Surrey's twisty, political police transition needs swift clarity

The head of the National Police Federation says Surrey should not restaff at the expense of RCMP
The president and CEO of the National Police Federation hopes for a swift and clear transition to a local police force from the RCMP.

Last week, B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, announced the province’s decision following a lengthy political tug-of-war between proponents and opponents of a proposed transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service (SPS) in the City of Surrey. 

In his July 21 commentary on the issue, BIV Publisher and Executive Editor Kirk LaPointe took readers through the saga’s high and low points, but we feel it’s important to clarify some of the points he made. 

Most importantly, former Mayor Doug McCallum’s decision to proceed with a police transition for the City of Surrey was not based on the outcome of a referendum. In fact, Doug McCallum’s electoral platform included this promise, and the city’s limited public engagement following his election showed many residents wanted to keep Surrey RCMP.  

On the topic of the future of contract policing in Canada, from our conversations with senior officials from Public Safety Canada, we understand that the purpose of this contract policing assessment is to speak with contract partners and stakeholders this summer to find ways to streamline costs across the board and to fill vacancies wherever possible, and then issue a report this fall on what they heard.  

Provincial and territorial premiers have called on the federal government to clarify their intentions for the future of the RCMP as it relates to Public Safety Canada’s assessment of contract policing, so this is clearly an issue that has captured broader attention. 

All Canadians deserve this clarity on future policing in planning safe communities and future costs.  

Our members are not pawns – they are people and proud Canadians who care deeply about their jobs, their families, and their communities. They deserve respect and certainty on their future.

Some provincial premiers – including, notably, B.C. Premier David Eby – also raised concerns over the state of RCMP recruitment in their province, which in turn prompted the National Police Federation to write to  Premier Eby directly to remind him of the many current and future gains being made in RCMP recruitment in British Columbia. 

Pending the City of Surrey’s response to the Province’s policing decision, we call on the premier and the minister of public safety and solicitor general to prepare an expeditious transition plan that includes a clear and imminent end date for the Surrey RCMP. This plan must not prioritize Surrey Police Service restaffing at the expense of RCMP vacancies Canada-wide.  

We have also asked the Commanding Officer of the B.C. RCMP to ensure individualized HR plans for each Surrey detachment member reflecting their career aspirations and geographic choice, which may be anywhere in Canada.  

Surrey RCMP members’ diligence throughout this protracted exercise has been nothing short of professional, and deserves our utmost support, thanks and respect.” 

 Brian Sauvé is the President and CEO of the National Police Federation, the labour union that represents approximately 20,000 RCMP Members in Canada.