RCMP disputes claim of agreement over Surrey transition in leaked letter to solicitor general

Click to play video: 'B.C. public safety minister says Ottawa on board with Surrey police transition'
B.C. public safety minister says Ottawa on board with Surrey police transition
B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the federal government is fully on board with the transition from Surrey RCMP to the Surrey Police Service. Keith Baldrey has the latest. – Apr 19, 2024

In the seemingly never-ending saga of the police transition in Surrey, a new development has unfolded revolving around a leaked RCMP letter.

Global News obtained the letter, dated last Friday. It’s from RCMP’s top brass to B.C.’s solicitor general Mike Farnworth.

RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme took aim at Farnworth’s recent claim of an agreement in principle to transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service.

Click to play video: 'RCMP commissioner blasts Surrey police transition plan'
RCMP commissioner blasts Surrey police transition plan

“Federal legislation and Governor in Council agreements for provincial and municipal police services do not provide authority to require, on a non-voluntary basis, RCMP members to work under the command of another police service,” Duheme wrote in the letter.

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“There are approximately 180 SPS officers in the Surrey RCMP detachment with no clear authority to deliver services on behalf of the RCMP at this time. Without a valid agreement, the RCMP will not support the deployment of further cohorts of SPS officers, including Justice Institute of British Columbia recruits.”

Click to play video: 'Details of failed Surrey policing deal'
Details of failed Surrey policing deal

A second letter, which was dated Wednesday, from federal Deputy Minister of Public Safety Canada Shawn Tupper to the B.C. government, has also been obtained by Global News.

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“I am pleased that our officials have been able to determine the approach for the transition that can respect existing provincial and federal legislative frameworks,” Tupper said.

B.C.’s Opposition points to these letters as evidence the B.C. government’s transition plan is a “mess.”

“The entire chaos and mishandling of this transition is just bad from a public optics point of view but there’s a much more important public safety issue here for the residents of Surrey who are wondering what the heck is going on with this chaotic transition plan,” BC United Leader Kevin Falcon said.

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Global News has learned the two sides have met several times in the last week and it is now the B.C. government’s belief there is a path forward with the Canadian government.

On Friday, Farnworth spoke about the letters: “We want to ensure that there is a safe transition taking place. I know there has been a number of letters out in the public. What’s important is that the transition continues and what is also clear is the province is supported by the federal government. We’ve been working very hard with the federal government, with the RCMP, to ensure that it happens.”

Farnworth spoke about the path forward as well.

“There have been a number of important meetings that have been able to deal with the crucial questions that was outlined in the (RCMP) letter,” he said.

“That is the path forward, and ensuring that the RCMP do not have to surrender their authority to another policing command, and that there is a path forward that respects both the federal and provincial legislative frameworks.”

The solicitor general went on to say he understands Surrey residents want to ensure there is a safe transition taking place, and that is “exactly what is going to be happening.”

Farnworth said more information is expected to be released next week.

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Click to play video: 'Leaked Surrey RCMP memo disputes B.C. public safety minister'
Leaked Surrey RCMP memo disputes B.C. public safety minister

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