Tom Mulcair promises $250M for 2,500 new police officers
NDP government would resurrect the Police Officer Recruitment Fund, Mulcair says in Surrey, B.C.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair laid out his pledge to train 2,500 new 'front-line' police officers across the country during a campaign stop in Surrey, B.C., Wednesday afternoon.
Mulcair said, if elected, his government would reintroduce the Police Officer Recruitment Fund, a program first established by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's government in 2008. Originally touted as part of Harper's law and order agenda, the original $400-million fund expired in 2013and was not renewed.
Mulcair promised to work with the provinces, territories and First Nations to inject $250 million over the next four years into the renewed fund, followed by $100 million annually. He said the new officers locations will be assigned based on policing needs and will be decided after consultations with leaders at various levels of government across the country.
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Surrey has been plagued by violence in recent years. Between March and June this year, there were 36 shootings in the city, Mulcair said.
"Gang and street violence, gun violence, in Surrey have now reached epidemic levels. Families and young people in particular are paying the price," he said to the crowd of supporters.
"Far too many people here in Surrey now have a connection to someone who has been lost to gun violence."
The Harper government pledged earlier this year to provide funds for 100 new officers to help stem the gang war in Surrey after area MPs drew increasing attention to the violence with speeches in the House.
Mulcair said the government has failed to deliver on the promise.
"Despite Stephen Harper's tough-on-crime rhetoric, the number of police officers in Canada declined every year from 2010 to 2014," adding that Harper has "left Canadians at risk by cutting important police funding programs."
When pressed by a reporter on where his government would find the money for the fund, Mulcair said it would be "fully costed" and that the specific breakdown would be provided at a future announcement.
Mulcair also fielded a question pertaining to a statement that Harper's former lawyer gave to RCMP regarding Nigel Wright's plan to personally repay the questionable expenses of Senator Mike Duffy with a $90,000 cheque.
In the statement, which came to light at Duffy's ongoing criminal trial in Ottawa this week, the lawyer says that Harper's current chief of staff, Ray Novak, was aware of Wright's plan, despite claims by the Conservative party that both Novak and Harper did not know.
"He (Harper) has not been frank, he hasn't told the truth," Mulcair said.
"If Mr. Novak knew, Mr. Harper knew. So, one plus one makes two. Now that we know Mr. Novak knew, we are able to conclude that Mr. Harper knew as well."
The NDP leader is expected to participate in a roundtable discussion, also in Surrey, at 5 p.m. ET.
- A previous version of this story stated that the new funds would be used to recruit and train RCMP officers, when in fact the money would also be used to recruit and train police serving in other forces.Aug 19, 2015 4:57 PM ET
With files from The Canadian Press