An appointment Nanaimo-North Cowichan NDP MLA Doug Routley hinted at following the provincial election last October has been revealed.
Routley will chair a special committee on reforming the Police Act.
After being passed over for a cabinet post by Premier John Horgan during November despite being one of the returning MLAs with the most seniority, Routley said he wasn’t concerned. Serving his constituents was his focus, but he also knew a demanding task awaited him.
“The premier has asked me to chair a special committee and, while I am not at liberty to provide more details at this time, I can say that this work will be essential to ensuring a fairer and more equal province,” Routley said at the time. “This position will allow me to make a long-lasting, positive impact on our province, while also ensuring that I continue to be accessible and available to my community which remains my top priority.”
With the announcement of the position, Routley acknowledged it’s going to be a huge undertaking.
“I really love committee work, but this one is challenging for sure,” he said.
The Legislative Assembly appointed the special committee, comprised of all parties, to undertake an inquiry into policing, including an examination of the role of police with respect to complex social issues, the scope of systemic racism within B.C.’s police agencies and ensuring consistency of a modernized Police Act with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“Committee members are considering a broad range of issues pertaining to the public safety continuum,” added Routley. “We are looking forward to engaging with British Columbians and hearing about their views, experiences and solutions for reforming and improving the provision of public safety in B.C.”
“The committee recognizes that there are complex, systemic challenges and barriers, as well as intersections with many health and social issues,” added deputy chair Dan Davies, the MLA for Peace River, in a statement. “We hope to facilitate the participation of a diverse range of stakeholders on the significant matters before us.”
British Columbians are invited to share their input with written, audio or video submissions by April 30, 2021. Following the submission deadline, certain individuals and organizations may be invited to make a presentation to the committee. All hearings will be conducted by video/teleconference.
The committee is taking a phased approach to its inquiry and additional opportunities to participate will be available at a later stage.
The process is expected to take several months. In fact, the enormity of the task has already been recognized. The original deadline for the committee to wrap up its work has been extended from October 2021 until April 2022.
“Because there’s so much material and interested parties, I asked for an extension,” said Routley. “It gives us a chance to really examine this thing thoroughly.
“There’s a lot of demand for change, but we have to do a thorough job. While it’s a long process, there is an urgency. Time marches on and more things can happen.”
The committee’s aim will be to make a change that benefits people, Routley added.
“Everyone has to buy into it, particularly police. We’ve got a legion of dedicated police officers. We have to harness the best in that and help the institution move forward.”
The committee has already held a series of meetings during the past month and will continue to meet regularly through the phased approach.
Other MLAs on the committee include: Garry Begg (Surrey-Guildford); Rick Glumac, (Port Moody-Coquitlam); Trevor Halford (Surrey-White Rock); Karin Kirkpatrick (West Vancouver-Capilano); Grace Lore (Victoria-Beacon Hill); Adam Olsen (Saanich North and the Islands); Harwinder Sandhu (Vernon-Monashee); and Rachna Singh, (Surrey-Green Timbers).