British Columbia

MLA Amrik Virk stands by 'die by the sword' comment on gang violence

Liberal MLA Amrik Virk said the gang lifestyle has to be "demystified" for young people in the wake of 23 shootings, including one fatality, in Surrey and Delta, B.C. in the past two months.

Gang lifestyle needs to be 'demystified' in light of Surrey shootings says Virk

BC Liberal MLA Amrik Virk, left, said former BC NDP cabinet minister Moe Sihota took his comments out of context when he said "you live a life by the sword and unfortunately you shall die by the sword," at a public forum on gang violence. (Simon Fraser University/bcndp/Flickr)

Liberal MLA Amrik Virk says the gang lifestyle has to be "demystified" for young people in the wake of 23 shootings, including one fatality, in Surrey and Delta, B.C. in the past two months — even though he's taking heat over the way he phrased it at a public forum last week.

​"We have to be very frank to young people that you have to demystify and de-glorify the gang lifestyle. There's not a life span for those individuals," Virk, the MLA for Surrey-Tynehead, told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

​"Sometimes it is the uncomfortable but frank truth that the gang life style is one that doesn't result in glamour — doesn't result in fast cars and quick money."

Virk's public comment on the matter at a forum last week is drawing criticism from former MLAs.

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

Former BC NDP cabinet minister Moe Sihota called the comment inappropriate and said Virk should resign from cabinet in light of it.

"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," he said.

Former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Colin Hansen agreed Virk's comment was "unfortunate."

Arun Bains, the nephew of NDP MLA Harry Bains, was killed Sunday, April 19. A statement from the family denies he had any connection to gangs.

Virk said he wasn't referring to Bains specifically in his comments and that Sihota took his comments out of context.

"The fact that how Mr. Sihota cobbled — for partisan purposes — the comments together was misleading and misled all those that were listening," said Virk.

Yesterday, B.C. premier Christy Clark announced a one-time contribution of $270,000 to the RCMP's Surrey Wraparound (Wrap) program — which helps at-risk youth in order to try and cut the waiting list in half.

To hear the full interview with Amrik Virk, listen to the audio labelled: Amrik Virk explains 'die by the sword' comment.


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