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‘Time to move on’: Surrey mayor appears boxed in after province turns police recommendation into an order



In a day all about Surrey, the most noteworthy line may have come from Vancouver.

“It’s time to move forward on policing,” said Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim in a statement put out after Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced he was now ordering the City of Surrey to move forward with its transition to a local police service, three months after it was merely a recommendation.

That the mayor of Vancouver felt compelled to weigh in on the situation spoke to the way the story has evolved in the last five years from a local policy debate to a neverending provincial controversy — one that Sim would like to see come to an end.

“We respect the Solicitor General’s decision to keep the Surrey Police Service as the primary law enforcement agency for Surrey. We appreciate the Minister for bringing this matter to a close.”

Of course, the matter might not be closed: Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke said the city would “explore our options” in the wake of Farnworth’s announcement.

In recent weeks, as it became clear that Farnworth was likely to take this course of action, she also pointedly refused to rule out Surrey taking legal action against the province.

But the events of the past few days show the limited paths ahead for Surrey if it wishes to prolong the conflict and attempt to get its way.


B.C.’s solicitor general orders Surrey to continue transition to Surrey Police Service


Mike Farnworth says the transition of policing in B.C.’s second largest city from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service must continue “to keep people safe.”

Debate today vs. three months ago

Consider in April, when Farnworth made his original recommendation for the Surrey Police Service while leaving open a narrow option for the RCMP to be retained.

Afterwards, Locke held a blistering news conference where she said, “We have a choice,” and said the city still picked the RCMP. The RCMP expressed disappointment with the province. The National Police Federation said it supported Locke. The senior opposition councillor, who wasn’t aligned with either side of the debate, called for a referendum.

Now consider the immediate reaction to Wednesday’s news.

“It’s time to move on,” said Linda Annis, saying the debate had sidetracked Surrey. The National Police Federation criticized the decison, but also called on the province to prepare a transition plan with “a clear and imminent end date for the Surrey RCMP,” while Farnworth indicated he had the tacit support of federal RCMP officials.

Meanwhile, Sim’s statement reflected the weariness of many regional politicians about the five-year drama that has caused stress on their own police departments.

And rather than hold a news conference — and get the camera time and sound bites that would accompany it — Locke only issued a statement.

Why the reduction in immediate debating?

One reason could be an additional three months of fatigue in litigating the same arguments. But another could be the new rumours surrounding contract policing by the RCMP across the country.

“One of the things that has helped [Farnworth] has been the affirmation by the federal government that they’re going to take a very close look at the RCMP,” said Rob Gordon, SFU criminology professor emeritus.

“I’m not sure what Brenda Locke thinks she’s going to be able to pull out of the hat, but it won’t be very much … if it goes to court, so be it, but it’ll be years before it gets resolved.”

Former Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum holds a press conference after the province's announcement that they were ordering the city to stick with the Surrey Police Service, which was created under his watch.
Former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum holds a news conference after the province’s announcement it was ordering the city to stick with the Surrey Police Service, which was created under his watch. (Justin Boulin/CBC News)

What comes next?

If it doesn’t go to court, there will still be outstanding issues to deal with in the months ahead.

One is costs: Farnworth reaffirmed the province would commit up to $150 million to help with the transition, but Locke’s statement notably focused almost as much on the finances as it did on a potential fight with the province.

“I will also be asking for a face-to-face meeting with the Minister to understand how he intends to compensate for the significant tax burden that will be placed on Surrey residents and businesses as a result of his decision,” she wrote.

Another big question is how the province will introduce legislation to, as Farnworth put it, ensure a situation like this “never happens again” when it comes to a process that must be followed if a municipality tries to change its police force.

The province has defended its approach to the last nine months, claiming it had to respect Surrey’s policy desires before coming down with the proverbial hammer. At the same time, the language of “never happens again” indicates an understanding that the process was less than ideal.

Those will be developments worth watching for taxpayers in Surrey, along with people passionate about the Police Act.

But Farnworth’s announcement could mean the months of constant stories about the controversy could be at an end.

“It will calm down,” predicted Gordon.

“They’re certainly fighting words by Locke, but one wouldn’t have expected anything else.”



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One of Canada’s new navy ships stopped in Hawaii after taking on water



OTTAWA – One of the country’s newest navy ships is tied up in a U.S. port after it took on 20,000 litres of water because of a leak.

HMCS Max Bernays is one of Canada’s new Arctic and offshore patrol ships, built in Halifax by Irving Shipyards.

It was taking part in an international exercise called the Rim of the Pacific Exercise when the incident happened July 12.

A Defence Department spokesperson said a valve and pump in one of the ship’s seawater cooling systems was leaking for about half an hour.

It’s not clear how long the repairs will take, and the navy is still trying to determine if the other seawater cooling system is affected.

The ship, delivered to the navy in late 2022, is one of three vessels sent to support Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy this spring.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Trudeau’s hand-picked candidate for Montreal byelection riles aspiring contenders



OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to hand-pick a candidate for a riding in an upcoming Montreal byelection isn’t being well-received by three aspiring contenders who spent months campaigning only to be shunted aside.

The Liberals announced Montreal city Coun. Laura Palestini last Friday as the party’s candidate in a byelection whose date has yet to be announced for the riding of LaSalle—Émard—Verdun. The byelection must be called by July 30.

Three aspiring candidates — local school commissioner Lori Morrison; entrepreneur Christopher Baenninger; and former Quebec Liberal party organizer Eddy Kara — denounced the decision, with Morrison calling it “anti-democratic, 100 per cent.”

Morrison said she couldn’t believe the party let her knock on doors and sign up memberships only to ultimately abandon plans for a nomination meeting.

The nomination to become candidate in LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, Morrison said, was hotly contested because the riding “has been a Liberal stronghold for a very, very long time.”

Liberal campaign co-chair Soraya Martinez Ferrada has said it was Trudeau’s decision to prevent party members from choosing the candidate and to instead select Palestini, who represents the LaSalle borough on Montreal city council. Ferrada was on vacation and unavailable for comment Monday, her office said. The party declined to make anyone else available and instead provided a statement.

The Liberals have won the riding in all three elections since it was created, with former justice minister David Lametti re-elected with 42.9 per cent of the vote in 2021. The Bloc Québécois candidate received almost half as many votes — 22.1 per cent — while the New Democratic Party and the Conservatives picked up 19.4 per cent and 7.5 per cent of the vote, respectively.

Lametti resigned on Jan. 31, after he was excluded from Trudeau’s cabinet in last summer’s reshuffle.

Baenninger said he was “in shock” at Trudeau’s decision to forgo the nomination process and hand-pick a candidate, saying it was “not right” and “demotivating.”

Morrison refused to say whether the party is respecting its values by disregarding a nomination vote; Baenninger, meanwhile, said the decision falls within the rules. The party’s vetting committee, he explained, can reject any candidates in the best interest of the party.

However, Baenninger said, the party didn’t do itself any favours by pushing three candidates aside in favour of Palestini. “I’m going to be shrewd: we didn’t improve our chances. I’ll leave it at that.”

Trudeau’s leadership has been under scrutiny since the party failed to retain the riding of Toronto—St. Paul’s, a longtime Liberal bastion for more than three decades, that was won by the Conservatives on June 24. Nationally, the Liberals have been polling roughly 20 points behind the Tories led by Pierre Poilievre for more than one year.

Both Baenninger and Morrison said that before Palestini was announced by the party, they had never heard her name before.

Kara, a filmmaker and former provincial Liberal organizer, had the support of former Quebec finance minister Carlos Leitão and ex-MP Jean-Claude Poissant. He said it’s “really shocking” that Trudeau interrupted the nomination process, adding that the party sent signals that members would choose the candidate, including by publishing a nomination kit.

He said he learned that the Liberals wanted someone of Italian origin to “ensure we get the Italian vote.” Kara said three members of the Liberal Party executive confirmed to him that they were also considering appointing Daniela Romano, another municipal councillor in LaSalle.

According to 2016 census data, 8.2 per cent of the riding’s residents are of Italian origin.

Palestini will face another municipal councillor in the byelection, as the NDP have named Craig Sauvé, who represents the nearby Sud-Ouest borough on city council. The Conservatives will run Louis Ialenti, who the party describes as “a common-sense small business owner.” The Bloc has not revealed its candidate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Adventure-seeking B.C. couple were victims found on Nova Scotia island: relative




HALIFAX – The British Columbia couple whose remains recently washed ashore on Nova Scotia’s remote Sable Island have been identified as 70-year-old James Brett Clibbery and his 54-year-old wife, Sarah Packwood.

Clibbery’s sister, Lynda Spielman, said today the RCMP have confirmed their identities.

Spielman, a Calgary resident, says she’s heard many theories about what happened to the adventurous couple after June 11 when they left Halifax harbour in a 13-metre sailboat en route to the Azores — a 3,200-kilometre journey.

Spielman declined to speculate on what went wrong, and the Mounties have said they are still investigating.

On Monday, the RCMP confirmed they had identified Clibbery’s body with the help of the province’s medical examiner’s office, but they declined to release his name, citing privacy legislation.

The Mounties previously confirmed the couple’s sailboat, Theros, was reported missing on June 18, and it wasn’t until July 10 that their bodies were found in a three-metre inflatable boat on Sable Island, about 280 kilometres southeast of Halifax.

Clibbery and Packwood, who lived on B.C.’s Salt Spring Island, described themselves as adventure travellers and posted details of their voyages on a YouTube channel called Theros Adventures.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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