Battleground Surrey: Harper’s strategy, Surrey execution

Canadian Prime Minister is often described as one of the most secretive, close and media unfriendly politicians at the moment. Prime Minister rarely answers questions from media and even when he does that process is tightly controlled and aimed to help him promote his agenda. Several journalists over the years tried to provoke PM Harper or ask him though questions, majority would remember his clashes with veteran CBC reporter Terry Milewski. Now Surrey has its own version of Stephen Harper in face of newly elected Mayor of Surrey Linda Hepner and her arch nemesis CTV's Lisa Rossington. Lastest example of Harper's strategy and Surrey execution came on Wednesday when Mayor Hepner once again refused to speak to media regarding important issues.

This is not a first time that Mayor Hepner refused to speak with media. First time happened last year, than Councillor Hepner, dodged Rossington's questions regarding crime situation in Surrey. At that time Cllr. Hepner was set to run for her current position and serve as unofficial spokesperson for Surrey First coalition, but didn't found important to answer though questions from journalists. Back then Rossington reported that Cllr. Hepner told her that she doesn't not have time to speak about crime. Crime was one of key issues in election campaign and city of Surrey was coping with several high profile murders and inaction from municipal government.

Today when she sits at the City Hall and reigns over City politics Mayor Hepner refuses to address issue of homelessness in her own backyard right next to the City Hall. Area between City Hall and Whalley Legion is known as an area in which homlesses are gathering and trying to get warm on very cold nights this winter. Also this area is known where businesses, which Mayor Hepner proudly invites to come to Surrey and proudly credits her team for bringing business in, are in danger and under pressure from homeless gathering at their doors every single day. As Rossington reported on Wednesday on CTV News having homlesses at the business doors is not a sole problem in this area, Whally Legion operations and properties are also targeted, near by landlord recently was beaten and sent to hospital with serious injuries.

While this is happening at the centre of Surrey's downtown which is and should continue being centre of Surrey's transformation from suburban to metropolitan area Mayor doesn't want to address these issues publicly. One of potential reasons for Mayor's tactics could be record of badly executed interviews and relations with media during and prior to the last campaign. But could direct us into a direction of future City Hall communications with media representatives while trying to shed a light on some of the most important issues in Surrey. It would not be a surprise to see a City Hall completely closed to media questions with rare episodes of openness once City has something favourable to present to residents and a public in general.



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