Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs…but perhaps not if you live in Surrey

NPF Asks Province to Step In on Unconstitutional Sign Bylaw Amendment

SURREY, BC – The NPF has sent a letter to the Province of B.C. following an October 18, 2021 Surrey Council meeting where anti-democratic amendments to Surrey Sign By-Law, 1999, No. 13656 were presented and approved, muzzling any opposition signage and other forms of advertising and free speech regarding ‘the voting for, support or opposition of a municipal, provincial or federal issue.’

In practice, this amendment allows local bylaw officers to fine Surrey residents for simply displaying a sign – on their own private property – that supports or opposes any municipal, provincial, or federal issue.

The National Police Federation is deeply concerned about the motivation, impact, and precedent that this hastily approved political sign banishment sets, and we shared those concerns in a letter sent late last week to B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs, Josie Osborne. This letter not only points out the blatantly unconstitutional nature of this amendment and the inevitable legal challenges that will follow, it rightly calls on the provincial government to step up to defend the rights of all residents of British Columbia including those in Surrey, no matter their views on issues.

“This amendment by Council would be funny if it weren’t so absurdly anti-democratic and near-cartoonish,” said Brian Sauvé, President, National Police Federation. “While Mayor MacCallum continues to resist our calls for transparency and accountability on his still-without-a plan proposed transition to a Surrey Police Service, this amendment paints the completely opposite picture of a duly elected municipal council that was sworn in to act in the best interests of all its residents, and especially through the rule of law.”

“The right to protest is one of the enshrined tools of democracy, but gone unchecked, this is the kind of amendment that may inadvertently embolden other municipalities to implement similar anti-democratic by-laws, and that’s a very slippery slope for any healthy and functioning democracy,” he added.

Here is our letter to Minister Osborne.


About the National Police Federation:

The National Police Federation (NPF) was certified to represent ~20,000 RCMP Members serving across Canada and internationally in the summer of 2019. The NPF is the largest police labour relations organization in Canada; the second largest in North America and is the first independent national association to represent RCMP Members.

The NPF is focused on improving public safety in Canada by focusing on increasing resources, equipment, training, and other supports for our Members who have been under-funded for far too long. Better resourcing and supports for the RCMP will enhance community safety and livability in the communities we serve, large and small, across Canada.

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Fabrice de Dongo
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