Kash Heed wants B.C. Liberal candidate Amrik Virk to quit RCMP
Kash Heed says fellow B.C. Liberal Amrik Virk “wants to have his cake and eat it too”.
Virk, according to the outgoing Vancouver-Fraserview MLA, should do the “right thing” instead. That is, Heed thinks the RCMP inspector should resign from the national police force before campaigning any more in Surrey-Tynehead for the May 14 provincial election.
Virk’s going on leave without pay doesn’t cut it for Heed, who stepped down as chief constable of the West Vancouver Police Department before his successful foray into electoral politics in 2009.
“It seems to me like he wants to have his cake and eat it too: ‘Yeah, I’ll take a run for it. I’ll take a leave of absence for a couple of months. And you know what? If I don’t win in Surrey-Tynehead, oh, I’ve got my job in policing,’ ” Heed told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “If he truly wants to be an elected official here in the province of British Columbia, go for it and resign from the RCMP.”
According to Heed, “That is the right thing to do to ensure that there is no conflict of interest.”
“The conflict of interest will arise if in fact he is not successful in the run for the position and then he has to return to the RCMP,” the former minister of public safety and solicitor general explained. “He’s already expressed that he’s a member of a political party. He ran for a political party. He fully embraced the policies of that particular party. And now he’s supposed to be in an apolitical position as a public servant.”
After three terms as the B.C. Liberal MLA for Surrey-Tynehead, Dave Hayer isn’t running for re-election. On February 21, the party announced that Virk will carry its banner in the riding.
Virk joined the RCMP in 1987 after getting a degree in economics and history at Simon Fraser University. The father of three girls was promoted to the rank of inspector in 2001.
According to Virk, he has turned in his pistol. But the former police sniper said he will not resign just yet as Heed suggests, noting that the RCMP Act allows him to go on leave without pay.
“I will retire the day after the election, after I win my riding,” Virk told the Straight in a phone interview.
Sgt. Rob Vermeulen, a spokesperson for the RCMP’s E Division—which covers B.C.—indicated that Virk will have to give up the red serge if he wins a seat in the legislature.
“They can’t be in politics and be an officer at the same time,” Vermeulen told the Straight by phone.
Virk related that his decision to run for public office is an extension of his record of service as a police officer and a member of the community. He formerly served as a director of the Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation and was a member of an advisory board for SFU’s Surrey campus. He is currently vice chair of the board of Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
“I’ve protected and served,” he said. “Now I look to serve and protect.”
Born in India, Virk noted he is a proud to live in Canada. “I’m an unashamed Canadian that has a tear in my eye when the flag goes up.”
According to Virk, the RCMP Act also allows him to return to the police force if he doesn’t succeed in the election. But it’s not a scenario he contemplates. “The reason I’ve come into this game is not to return.…It’s to serve Canadians in a different way.”
Although Heed has an issue with Virk remaining an RCMP officer during the campaign, he indicated that he won’t have a conflict-of-interest concern if Virk wins. “No matter what background he comes from, if he’s elected, fine,” Heed said.
The B.C. NDP’s candidate in Surrey-Tynehead, Avtar Bains, didn’t make himself available for comment.