MP Jasbir Sandhu slams Conservatives during Parliament’s first week

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JASBIR Sandhu, MP for Surrey North (NDP), on Thursday stood in the House of Commons to confront the government on a number of concerns facing Surrey residents.

He said his primary concern is the high crime rate in Surrey. Surrey had 25 murders in 2013, the highest number recorded in years, and a 120% increase from 2012.

“I know RCMP officers work very hard. Every day they dedicate their lives to their job. In the face of high crime statistics, we should ensure that our officers have all the resources they need to keep our communities safe,” said Sandhu.

Surrey recently became home to the RCMP Headquarters for BC, a major development that would ensure that officers are provided with the resources necessary for their work. However, the costs of this new building are being transferred to municipalities. According the RCMP Fiscal Plan for 2013-2014, municipalities could pay up to $1 200 more per regular member and $20 000 more per integrated team member. This means that the City of Surrey could pay up to $1 million dollars more for policing.

Sandhu placed the blame on the federal government, stating: “In their election resolutions in 2006, the Conservative government promised to be ‘tough on crime.’ If crime prevention is a priority to this government, why are homicide rates in my community increasing? Why is funding for policing being downloaded onto the municipalities?”

Sandhu also addressed infrastructure development in Surrey. Although they are responsible for 60% of infrastructure development, municipalities only receive 8% of federal tax revenue. This means that much needed investments in public transportation, roads and bridges, are not able to be carried out without provincial and federal support.

Sandhu said, “Surrey’s transportation infrastructure is inadequate. The SkyTrain only serves part of the city and many of our roads and bridges are in desperate need of attention, including the 75-year-old Pattullo Bridge. All of our new bridges are tolled, while neighbouring cities receive bridges which are not tolled, because of federal funding.”

Sandhu said he has spoken on the topic of infrastructure development previously in the House of Commons. Last June, he confronted the Minister of Transport about the possibility of tolling the reconstructed Pattullo Bridge in the future. He also held public forums about the bridge during the summer. Surrey is home to the only two tolled bridges west of Manitoba.