“We tend to treat politics as a game, as if the people living and dying by the policies set by those in power are less important than the stories generated by colorful characters…” ~ Tyler Clark
I’ll never profess to know everything about politics, but there is one thing I feel I do know with certainty: for many politicians, it’s become a past-time more about political posturing, strategy and public relations than serving the people who elected them to their place in the first place.
Generally speaking, of course, because according to every politician in Surrey, all they want to do is serve the people.
Another thing that I know from speaking to and communicating with many Surrey residents over the last couple weeks, is that people are angry, confused and most of all, fed up. They are fed up with promises. They are fed up with public relations and they want action, not platitudes.
Today the BC NDP announced the Surrey Accord, a five point plan to address the issues that Surrey “is currently facing”, according to their press release. The plan addresses several issues that Surrey has actually been facing for a very long time, such as the deregulation of recovery homes, lack of social and supportive housing, and less than optimal policing levels. None of these issues just popped up in the last couple of weeks- they’ve simply just been pushed to great public attention via recent events.
The plan is for the NDP to host a public forum shortly – and I am told possibly a number of public forums around Surrey in various neighbourhoods – then press the Liberal government to adopt the accord when the legislature resumes in February. (If the Liberals and Surrey council go along with it.)
When questioned by the press today, Surrey Cllr/MLA Marvin Hunt said the suggestions weren’t new and that they were something Surrey had been lobbying for, for some time. How long the city has been lobbying for all those suggestions, I don’t know – this was news to many Surrey residents I have talked to this evening.
In fact,Hunt, who is also Liberal MLA for Surrey-Panorama, also said he was pleased to see the NDP agreeing with Surrey council, and looking to work together with other levels of government, but emphasized again, that these aren’t new ideas.
“These are things that Surrey council has been lobbying for for a while, so it’s nice to see that they’re on board with what Surrey council has been saying. The problem, of course, is that there’s nothing particularly new there,” Hunt said.
“However, my mind also has enough history to remember when the NDP were in power and we were trying to work on the issue of bylaw courts – now it’s community courts – but back then it was bylaw courts. Ujjal Dosanjh said we’d have it in three months and we got it under the Liberal government because the NDP never did anything.”
He said the promises were not kept.
“So it’s one of those ones where it’s nice to see the opposition agree with us, but of course, the opposition is just that. They have no power to enact things. But it’s all part of a growing consensus as to what’s needed out here in Surrey and that’s good.”
Umm. Ok Marvin. Take credit, point fingers, blame the NDP, deflect Liberal promise for community courts then say its all good? I don’t think that works for Newton in your position as councillor, or MLA. And it certainly is not productive or conducive to working together.
Surrey mayor Dianne Watts welcomed the support but mentioned she hadn’t been contacted by the NDP at all – in fact this announcement took many community associations and organizations by surprise. The Newton Community Association had already booked a public forum for February, which has been discussed in the press at length following the first meeting. Newton MLA’s are invited, along with the mayor,council and other representatives from stakeholders in the area.
Of course, with the exception of Cllr./MLA Marvin Hunt -whose riding the Newton rec centre, arena and bus loop are actually in – the reigning BC Liberals have remained largely silent on the long standing problems of Newton,including Premier Christy Clark. Sadly, Hunts only remarks to the press prior to this have been that he doesn’t consider inches of column space an indicator of what he’s done, or his effectiveness.
That might be true, but sadly, the state of his portion of Newton shows he hasn’t done a hell of a lot as an MLA or perhaps as a councillor who lived in Newton for a very long time.
Which brings me to the point of this post.
What has been going on in Newton is not a new problem. Newton has always been.. well.. Newton. More poverty, more crime, more squalor, but still Newton. Gang shootings have little to do with poverty in Newton,or the horror of the Newton Bus loop, or the lack of the city to follow through on the Newton plan.
What needs to be healed in Newton – and I say healed because Newton is indeed, hurting – is a totally separate issue and a complex one with many short term and long term action plans needed that require a full and non-partisan commitment to cooperation between every level of government.
Yes, you read that correctly. I said a: ‘non-partisan cooperation between all levels of government.’
No political grandstanding, no political posturing, and no agenda’s. Yes, that is asking a lot considering it is an election year and everyone is pointing fingers right now, but that is what it is going to take to get this done. It must be a cohesive and coordinated effort.
The city can’t pass the buck to the province because of refugees… seriously? And while unregulated recovery homes are an issue for all of Surrey, they are not solely to blame for everything that ails Newton. The city has been facing some serious criticism and questions on growth and the ability to keep pace with it – and how that has impacted Newton in particular.
The NDP who have had, until this past election several seats in Surrey, can’t just pass the buck to the Liberals, because, well they are here, and have been for many years, in the thick of it. Yes, we know how the Libs work, but change doesn’t always require a political office, it requires community leaders who see issues, raise the alarm and don’t stop. It’s been done. There is no excuse for not pouncing on issues simply because one sits in opposition!
The Liberals can remain in hiding all they want, but will not escape the examination of local residents who want answers – answers that have been a long time in coming. As the governing party in BC for more than a decade, they don’t have anyone to pass the buck to on many of these issues… although that doesn’t stop them from trying.
With all this passing of the buck, with all this posturing and positioning, where are the people of Newton left? Does anyone remember what this is all about, why people in Newton are so angry?
With so many people from so many different political backgrounds and leanings all professing to want the same thing for Newton, where are the phone calls between the power brokers?
Why is there a press opportunity instead of a meeting in a conference room in a neutral location if needed? Why all the grandstanding and talk about action… instead of real action and collaboration?
What is so damn hard about taking a few moments to say: ‘ It’s time to do the right thing, instead of the easy thing.’ ?
I want to believe that every politician, at every level, wants the best for the people in the community of Newton, regardless of what party or what direction they are headed. But none of this is possible working separately.
It’s easy to call a press conference, it’s easy for politicians to point fingers at each other and claim absolution and solutions that are responded to with more opposing claims and finger pointing.
It’s not so easy to pick up the phone and call your political adversary and say: ” Time to talk -Let’s get it done.” Yes, laugh. I’m sure you are.
But for the sake of every Newton resident, that is what needs to happen.
Because more often than not… “the secret is to gang up on the problem, instead of each other.” ~ unknown.
And that, my friends, would really be revolutionary politics.