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Honoured to Chair a Special All-Party Committee

It’s an honour, as the MLA for Powell River – Sunshine Coast, to have been elected to Chair a Special All-Party Committee to review the Police Act. The Committee was established by the BC Government in response to a pattern of incidents of racial bias and examples of systemic racism among law enforcement agencies in North America. The Deputy Chair is MLA Jas Johal, a member of the Opposition and former reporter – this is my first chance to work with him on a committee, and I’m already enjoying our working relationship.
This subject has always been of interest to me. Prior to becoming a child protection social worker with MCFD and then Director of Health and Social Services with the shíshálh Nation, I had worked on legal education, law reform and crime prevention initiatives with the RCMP, Indigenous communities, and the Department of Justice in the Northwest Territories. At university, while completing my M.A. in Criminology, I worked with prisoners through SFU’s Prison Education Project and taught “Minorities and the Criminal Justice System” among other courses.
As an agency of the government, policing occupies an important role in our society, one that requires high standards of ethics and conduct – and in a democracy, one that requires the trust of the citizens.
The debates over policing issues are broad-ranging and sometimes controversial. Experiences and trust in law enforcement vary from person to person and from community to community. As a privileged non-racialized male growing up in a middle-class neighbourhood, my relationship with police was good. From a career that has allowed me to work in both remote and urban communities, and with minority and racialized groups, I learned quickly that others had experiences with law enforcement that were fraught with conflict and
distrust.
The police have their own concerns about the discussions that are taking place in public; calls to “de-fund” the police naturally evoke some defensiveness on the part of those who have chosen their profession because of their desire to help others, and because of the blunt simplicity of that slogan.
As Chair of the Committee, I will use my experience dealing with controversial matters to ensure that the process we use to gather information is sound, that the testimony we solicit is pertinent, and that our discussions remain focused on our task. If you are interested in following the progress of the Committee, please contact Kim Tournat at the Davis Bay office at 604-741-0792 or Rob Hill in Powell River at 604-485-1249 or
email nicholas.simons.mla@leg.bc.ca.

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