For the past 15 months I have been honoured to participate in the Police Act Reform committee.
We were given a broad terms of reference to review the entire policing system in British Columbia and provided 11 recommendations for transformational change.
This was a collaborative process between all Members on the committee. Noting transformation may take several years, all Members of the Legislative Assembly carry a responsibility of ensuring we move quickly to establish a process for the next steps for police reform.
Thank you to the Chair of the committee, the member for Nanaimo–North Cowichan, and also the Deputy Chair, the member for Peace River North, for your comments and for this opportunity to say a few words about this really important work that I was fortunate enough to be able to be a part of.
Committee work is some of the most rewarding work in this assembly, and it’s work that is incredibly important, as it’s a way to bring in all of the multidimensional sides of the House. All of the skills and expertise that each of us individually bring to this Legislative Assembly can be brought together to inform and to make what are the important recommendations for government to undertake. It has been truly….
As has been highlighted, we’re recommending transformational change in policing and public safety in this province. I believe that it’s been a transformational change for myself, as a member of it, and I certainly have a new appreciation for all of my colleagues that sat around the table and so openly and honestly debated and discussed and tested what we heard to ensure that the 11-plus recommendations — there are more than 11 recommendations, but there are 11 that we want to be very clear on — are brought forward to the minister.
In addition to thanking the incredible staff — Karan, for keeping us pointed in the right direction — thank you for being that really important force, and all of the staff who wrote the committee report and took everything and brought it in to what we see as basically a 100-page document.
I also want to raise my hands in gratitude to the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General for giving us a broad terms of reference, for allowing us, for giving the confidence of this assembly, to do the work and not restricting it, but to say: “Go in, dig down, find out what needs to be said and say it.”
I just really want to raise my hands to the Minister of Public Safety for giving us that broad terms of reference. The output is not going to be easy. It’s going to be difficult. We struggled with that difficulty. The recommendations that we make are not recommendations that we make lightly. They are recommendations from the people, the experts, the stakeholders, the survivors, the community leaders that we heard day in and day out, and I raise my hands to every one of them who participated in this really important process.
This is the first step of many steps forward in reforming policing in this province, to restoring transparency and accountability, restoring trust in policing, and a first step in that transformational change. I really encourage the government, whether it be this government or the next government and the next government…. This is going to take time to really embrace the collaboration that happened within the committee and to share this work with the committee.
I don’t think government needs to feel that the burden is going to be carried by just the cabinet or just whoever the governing party is. Share the work. Have an oversight committee. Carry it forward as a Legislative Assembly. That’s the way that we’re going to really have the most impactful transformational change and recognize that the burden should not be carried by any one political party in this province, any one Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
It should be carried by all of us. Equally, there are 87 shoulders in this place that can all carry that work together.
I thank you all for this opportunity to speak. HÍSW̱ḴE SIÁM.