Pubdate: Fri, 24 Apr 2015
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Peter O'Neil
Page: B2


OTTAWA - A smiling Steven Blaney, Canada's minister of public safety, 
dismissed a B.C. MP's complaint Thursday that the government's focus 
on balancing the budget and combating domestic terrorism has made 
communities like Surrey and North Delta more vulnerable to drug- and 
gang-related crime.

New Democratic Party MP Jasbir Sandhu, citing 23 shootings in the two 
communities since mid-March, complained in the House of Commons that 
there was no new money in Tuesday's federal budget for education and 
outreach programs targeting youth.

"Residents are worried about their safety, and the safety of their 
community," Sandhu told the House of Commons. "But budget 2015 does 
not even mention youth-gang prevention, gangs or for that matter Surrey."

Blaney appeared amused by the question, and noted police budgets have 
"increased steadily" since the Conservatives took power in 2006.

"I invite the member to look at the budget. There is additional 
funding, including (for) the Ottawa police," the Quebec MP said. 
Blaney was referring to the Tuesday budget that continued the 
government's major shift in national security assets towards the 
fight against terrorism after two domestic terror incidents in 
October. The budget included $10 million over five years to the 
Ottawa police because of its role in protecting "federal landmarks 
and institutions of national significance."

The description was in reference to the shooting of a Canadian 
soldier, who was a ceremonial guard at the National War Memorial, by 
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. Ottawa police now watch over the war memorial.

The budget also included $293 million over five years for "enhancing 
national security," starting with $18 million in the current fiscal 
year. That money will be divided between the RCMP, the Canadian 
Security Intelligence Service, and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Sandhu, who represents the Surrey North riding, said the 
Conservatives should have found more money to replace police 
resources shifted from domestic crime to counter-terrorism work.

"Terrorism is a real issue, but we should not have to sacrifice 
community safety," he told the Vancouver Sun.

The MP also questioned why Blaney would cite the $10 million going to 
Ottawa's police force. "That is of no use to Surrey."

Commissioner Bob Paulson, in media interviews and testimony before 
MPs earlier this year, said his force has been stretched thin due to 
the new focus on domestic terror. He told MPs more than 600 police 
officers and staff have been shifted from other duties to 
anti-terrorism work since October.

"I think we've sidelined about 321 significant criminal 
investigations outside counter-terrorism," he noted in a CBC interview.

The RCMP's budget has dropped from $2.9 billion in 2013-14 to an 
estimated $2.6 billion in 2015-16, according to Treasury Board documents.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom