Province says it will make a decision quickly on whether the city's RCMP plan meets it requirements
The debate over policing in Surrey, B.C., got personal Monday when Mayor Brenda Locke accused Solicitor General Mike Farnworth of bullying and misogyny after he suggested the city had been playing games with its handling of the matter.
Locke said Farnworth has been "a bully all the way through" the city council process that ultimately determined it would revert to the RCMP well into the transition to an independent municipal force.
"I have worked in politics for a long time. I have worked in the liquor industry for a long time. I have never, ever, used the gender card," Locke said. "But in this case, I absolutely think there is misogyny going on, no doubt in my mind."
A representative of Farnworth's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Locke's claims.
WATCH | Locke levels the accusations as she takes questions from reporters:
Surrey mayor accuses solicitor general of misogyny in his dealings with her
Surrey mayor Brenda Locke says there is 'no doubt in [her] mind' there was misogyny involved in Solicitor General Mike Farnworth's behaviour towards her.
'Not the time to play games'
Her remarks came after Farnworth issued a statement saying he became concerned last Wednesday after learning that a report on the future of policing in Surrey had not been shared with the province but would be put to a vote by council.
The minister said he asked Locke to share the report and delay the vote, but it went ahead before he had a chance to determine if the plan would ensure safe policing.
"It is critical that I receive this report. Now is not the time to play games. The safety of people in Surrey is too important," said his statement issued Monday.
Locke said it was "fearmongering" to suggest there were public safety issues in the city.
She had campaigned last fall on a promise to bring the RCMP back to Surrey after her predecessor, Doug McCallum, initiated the transition to a municipal force.
The B.C. government recommended in April that the city continue with its transition to the independent Surrey Police Service and offered $150 million in funding to help.
At the same time, Farnworth set out guidelines for city council to keep the RCMP.
"The City of Surrey gets to choose their police force, but my responsibility is the second part of that process, which is to ensure the safe and effective policing in the city of Surrey and the province and the requirements that I laid out a number of weeks ago are met," the minister told a news conference on Friday.
That's after Locke announced that council had voted to go back to the Mounties, saying it would be far less costly than continuing with the independent force.
Who has authority?
Farnworth gave the city a deadline of 1 p.m. Monday to share its report, saying he'd otherwise be forced to make a determination about effective policing without it.
Locke said the report wasn't shared earlier because it hadn't yet been agreed upon by council, and as of Monday morning, the city hadn't received signed non-disclosure agreements from the province for those who want to review the document.
She said Farnworth's deadline left the city with one business day to send the report from the time council voted last Thursday.
"One day, and he expects us to have everything ready and a report to him by noon, and he's saying we're playing games?"
But by the afternoon, Farnworth said he had received the report and non-disclosure agreement and that the province was "working urgently so I may make a determination as quickly as possible if it meets the requirements I laid out to ensure safe and effective policing in Surrey and the province."
Locke said there is no plan in place for the city to continue its transition to a municipal force because that's not the decision council was making.
"The solicitor general, in the report that he gave us, said there were two options for the City of Surrey. We just didn't choose the one he preferred," she said.
However, she acknowledged that the province could demand the city stick with the Surrey Police Service — and that the conflict could escalate further.
"I know they can overrule cities, but I would expect that with all of this, there would be a reasonable person," she said.
"If you're asking me, do I think legally [the province can overrule them], I can't answer that. I haven't had that conversation with our lawyer."
With files from Justin McElroy
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