Citing the B.C. NDP government’s meddling in Surrey civic politics, former mayor Bob Bose has quit the party in protest after almost 50 years of membership.
Bose, who was mayor from 1988 to 1996, joined the party in 1974, when Dave Barrett was the premier. He had been privately debating whether to turn in his membership since Solicitor General Mike Farnworth overruled city council in July and ordered the Surrey Police Service to take over from the RCMP.
“I’m really sorry that I’ve been driven to this decision, because most of my friends are members of the New Democratic Party. I’ve been deeply engaged at the federal, provincial and municipal level as a new Democrat, but the treatment of Surrey has just been unacceptable,” said Bose, who also served as a city councillor from 1979 to 1985 and 2000 to 2008.
“It’s very painful for me to do what I’ve done, but it’s the only way I can make a statement. Talking to members of the legislature or Farnworth, for that matter, has no effect, so I’m left with no option.”
Despite being out of politics for a decade-and-a-half, Bose remained an outspoken critic of Doug McCallum, who defeated him in 1996 and staged a mayoral comeback in 2018.
Bose points to McCallum’s 2018 “back-of-the-envelope campaign promise” to replace the RCMP with a new municipal force and the $8 million monthly cost while the SPS operates under RCMP command.
Bose said his former party, under Premier David Eby, not only ignored the wishes of October 2022 Surrey voters, but has sought to intimidate McCallum’s successor, Brenda Locke. He pointed to Farnworth’s $500,000, two-year transition facilitator contract for ex-BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald “to come in as a heavyweight and pressure Brenda into conceding.”
“Brenda is a tough cookie, she’s not going to be bullied,” Bose said. “She knows what’s at stake. She has, I think, a very good grasp on the issue and it’s not just about a campaign promise.”
On Oct. 26, the NDP majority passed Police Act amendments to force Surrey to exit the contract with the RCMP in favour of the SPS taking charge. That came only three days after Surrey city hall filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court, to ask a judge to quash the transition and order the government to respect civic jurisdiction.
While Farnworth pledged $150 million over five years to make the switch, the court filling estimated Surrey taxpayers would be saddled with a $314 million unfunded shortfall over 10 years.
Bose is also unhappy that the NDP is imposing new laws on municipal councils aimed at giving the province more power to fast-track housing development. That includes the end of public hearings for zoning applications if a proposal falls under the official community plan.
“There’s a lot of tension building between municipalities and the province on those two files,” Bose said.
“Most provincial legislation governing local governments has always done in collaboration with the municipalities and I don’t I don’t recall any specific legislation that was not introduced without the informed consent.”
Bose said he spoke with the party president, Aaron Sumexheltza, when he quit. He did not get his wish to speak to the party’s executive director, Heather Stoutenberg, or have members of caucus notified of his decision.
“That was never followed through on. I’ve had no calls back from any member of the legislature,” he said.
Sumexheltza has not immediately responded for comment.
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