School shooting shows leadership lacking in public safety crisis
Victoria: A Surrey elementary school was riddled with bullets at six in the evening, a time when children could easily have been playing on the grounds. This latest violent shooting incident on Tuesday has shocked and outraged all British Columbians. Gun violence isn’t just happening in Surrey - earlier this month a 74-year-old grandfather and innocent bystander was killed in in Abbottsford, while a Vancouver city worker was killed in broad daylight in Burnaby in July. However, the level of gun and gangrelated violence in Surrey this year has reached epidemic proportions. This Strawberry Hill school incident was the third shooting in as many days in Surrey and is part of a public safety crisis that has been going on for months and has justifiably spread fear among Surrey residents. People have died, one defending his home, and residents are right to be concerned that these deaths won’t be the last. This is unacceptable and Surrey and the Lower Mainland deserve better than what they’re getting from both senior levels of government. After months of being promised 100 new RCMP officers, there has been scant progress. The most recent public reports show that only six new officers from the promised 100 have been deployed. The B.C. Liberal government simply isn’t there for Surrey. Premier Christy Clark and her justice minister are sitting on their hands saying they’ve done all they can. That isn’t good enough. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton often claims that her government has increased the budget for the RCMP but earlier this year she was forced to admit
John Horgan B.C. New Democrat
Leader that there was, in fact, no money for actual new police services to communities this year. No new money for Surrey, no new money for any community in need. We also need a renewed effort on gangs, and a targeted effort in specific communities to tackle the culture of silence. There is good work being done, but we aren’t doing enough of it. The anti-gang unit has its innovative End Gang Life program, and the school-based Wraparound program has been very successful - but the B.C. government pledged only enough funding to reduce this prevention program waitlist by half. Surrey also only has 10 school liaison officers for its 120 schools while Vancouver has 16 dedicated officers for fewer schools. These are the kind of initiatives we need to see expanded. But instead of expanding this vitally important work, last year the B.C. Liberal government cut the provincial policing budget. This forced the RCMP to cut $2.8 million from the anti-gang task force as a result, and at a time when Surrey already had a growing crime rate and one of the lowest ratios of police officers in the province. This has only gotten worse because the community’s population has continued to grow far faster than the provincial average. This failure of B.C. Liberal priorities is unacceptable. Our New Democrat Surrey MLAs have been proposing solutions to the crisis of not only gang-related and property crime but also homelessness, mental health and addictions issues through the Surrey Accord. The B.C. Liberal government could be doing more to protect families in Surrey, but they are neglecting the things that matter. Surrey parents shouldn’t have to worry that if they let their children play at the park they will be caught in crossfire. New Democrats will continue to fight for the things that matter and stand up on the issues that families face in their daily lives. Surrey deserves better than what they have been getting from the B.C. Liberal government.