British Columbia

Gang violence in Surrey, B.C. needs intervention from province: Moe Sihota

A recent spate of shootings in Surrey, B.C. — 23 with one fatality in six week period — is raising questions about what the role of the province should be in putting an end to gang violence.

23 shootings and one fatality sparks discussion about province's role in stopping gang violence

Evidence markers surround a police photographer at the scene of a recent shooting in Surrey. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

A recent spate of shootings in Surrey, B.C. — 23 with one fatality within six weeks — is raising questions about what the role of the province should be in putting an end to gang violence.

"The politicians have allowed this to go on for far too long by blaming the victim and putting the onus on the families and shrugging their own responsibilities," former BC NDP cabinet minister Moe Sihota told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Last week, police organized a forum on gang violence, with B.C. Liberal MLA and former police officer Amrik Virk in attendance.

"You live a life by the sword and unfortunately you shall die by the sword," Virk said at the forum.

"He just blames the victim in one of the most callous and insensitive statements I've ever heard from a politician. You don't go out and blame the victim. These kids are in their 20s. No one deserves to die when they have their whole life ahead of them," said Sihota.

Former BC Liberal cabinet minister Colin Hansen agreed Virk's comment was "unfortunate" but said the province is investing in preventing gang violence — pointing out Surrey has the largest number of RCMP officer of any city in Canada.

"There's 60 million dollars going into the special crime unit. There are programs at the school level there are programs at the community level. Should there be something different being done? Obviously the answer to that is yes," said Hansen.

Gang violence in Surrey will be discussed in the legislature today.

The Political Insiders can be heard on CBC Radio's The Early Edition every Monday at 7:40 a.m. PT in Vancouver.

To hear more from Moe Sihota and Colin Hansen, listen to the audio labelled: Should the province step in to stop gang violence in Surrey?

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