British Columbia

Surrey's former police chief blasts Mayor Doug McCallum over plan to replace RCMP

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum’s plan to replace the Surrey RCMP with a municipal force is getting a scathing critique from the city’s former police chief.

Fraser MacRae says mayor doesn't have the mandate to create city's own police force

Fraser MacRae, who spent eight years as the Officer in Charge of the Surrey RCMP, speaking at an event in Surrey on January 29, 2019. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Surrey mayor Doug McCallum's plan to replace the Surrey RCMP with a municipal police force is getting a scathing critique from the city's former commanding officer.

Fraser MacRae — who spent eight years as the Officer in Charge of the Surrey RCMP before retiring in 2012 — says McCallum still hasn't answered basic questions about what the transition will look like.

"In my view, this entire initiative has been entered into without any due diligence, study or consultation," he said. "The mayor indicates he has the mandate to initiate this change. Personally, I don't agree."

MacRae was speaking Tuesday morning at a panel discussion on public safety in Surrey.

McCallum's response

One of the biggest promises McCallum made during last year's election campaign was to create Surrey's own police force in two years.

He wound up defeating his closest opponent, Tom Gill, by more than 17,000 votes.

"What council and I are doing is simply carrying out the wishes of the voters," McCallum said in a written statement. "To say otherwise is an affront to our democratic process and the people of Surrey."

MacRae argues McCallum's large margin of victory doesn't excuse him from doing more public consultation.

"A critical decision like this, that is a game changer for the city, needs to have more fulsome discussion, dialogue, and examination analysis to determine what's the best path forward," he said.

"Firstly, it wasn't a single issue election and second, he didn't receive more than 50 percent of the vote."

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum in Vancouver on Nov. 1, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The transition

The city is currently developing a new policing plan that is expected to be completed in the coming months.

When it's finished, it will be submitted to the province for approval.

Former solicitor general Kash Heed, who was also part of the panel discussion, says Solicitor General Mike Farnworth will have to sign off before the city can opt out of its contract with the RCMP.

"The plan would have to address what the Police Act would like them to do," Heed said. "It will have to make sure the service level will address all of [the solicitor general's] concerns," he said.

McCallum maintains the city is on track to meet his deadline to have the new police force up and running in two years.

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