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Petition filed to recall Surrey MLA

Anti-SOGI group says education minister ‘must be accountable to parents’

A petition has been filed with Elections BC to recall Surrey-Green Timbers MLA Rachna Singh.

Amrit Birring has posted several videos on social media talking about the recall petition, but by press time he had not responded to the Now-Leader’s requests to confirm that he was the one who filed it.

Birring is the leader of the Freedom Party of B.C., which has organized marches in Surrey throughout the year to campaign to “boot SOGI123 from BC Schools” and has called on Singh to resign multiple times.

In a video posted on several social media websites under the username @recallrachna, Birring said they want Singh, B.C.’s minister of education, recalled because he believes children are being sexualized in B.C. schools “under her watch.”

Birring is said to have contacted Singh numerous times expressing his concerns but says there has been no response.

“This isn’t acceptable, the education minister must be accountable to parents,” reads a post on the Recall Rachna website.

Birring says the Freedom Party of B.C. is advocating for parental rights.

“We are anti-SOGI123 because it infringes on the parents’ and children’s rights without their permission,” Birring stated.

Elections BC states there are “no set criteria” to recall an MLA.

“The only requirement is that the applicant provide a statement of 200 words or less of why, in the opinion of the applicant, the MLA should be recalled,” reads a post on Elections BC’s website.

If the recall petition is approved, the proponent has 60 days to collect signatures from more than 40 per cent of the eligible voters registered in the riding.

Volunteers can help the proponent when gathering signatures, but there are strict rules that canvassers must follow when collecting signatures. To be eligible to sign, the individual must be registered to vote and have been registered to vote in Surrey-Green Timbers on the final voting day Singh was elected.

According to Elections BC, the proponent and Singh will be given a list of people who are eligible to sign the recall petition. The list shows the addresses where the voters are currently registered. There are strict rules around who can access this list.

The petition was filed on Oct. 24 and has yet to be approved.

The Chief Electoral Officer at Elections BC has approved 29 recall petitions since 1995, all of which failed to meet one or more of the requirements.

If Birring’s petition is given the green light, this will be the first time a petition to recall a Surrey MLA has been approved since the Recall and Initiative Act came into effect in 1995.

After the petition has been filled with all of the signatures, the chief electoral officer has 42 days to finalize a decision.

“If the required signature threshold is met, the MLA is removed and a by-election is held,” reads a post on Elections BC website.

For its part, the province says there is no SOGI curriculum. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, or SOGI, is described as an inclusive term that applies to everyone, since every person has a sexual orientation and a gender identity.

Instead, the province says a SOGI framework was implemented by the Ministry of Education and Child Care to promote inclusive classrooms, where human rights are discussed, along with the topics of diversity, anti-bullying, respect and discrimination.

Singh did not respond to requests for comment by press time but BC NDP director of communications Ed May emailed a statement he said “can be attributed” to Singh.

“As the MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, my focus will continue to be working hard every day to help make life better for people,” Singh stated.

“That includes tackling housing costs, building more schools, and moving forward on the second Surrey Hospital and the expansion to Surrey Memorial.”

– With files from Sobia Moman

Anna Burns

About the Author: Anna Burns

I cover health care, non-profits and social issues-related topics for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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