Conservative MP Dianne Watts Could Offer Honesty as B.C. Liberal Leader

Watts’ identity and history could be an indicator of her great leadership potential

Former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts, announced that she will be running for the leadership position of the B.C. Liberal Party. (Wikimedia Commons)

Conservative MP and former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts announced on Sept. 24 that she will be seeking the leadership of the B.C. Liberals.

When journalist Liberty Craig asked about her political future for Fresh Magazine in 2010, Watts said that she didn’t “play politics.” Based on her political attitude, this means that she shied away from playing games or picking favorites in her political life.

“To get into the muck and mire of a political environment and focus your energy on personally attacking other people is just somewhere I will never go,” Watts said in the interview.

That was seven years ago. Now, she wants to be Premier.

Watts often displays a concern for the well-being of others, and has been in Canadian politics since she won a seat for Surrey City Council in 1996. She was a dependable and influential Mayor of Surrey for nine years and in 2010 was voted the fourth best Mayor in the world, receiving a World Mayor Prize for her work.

Surrey is the second largest city in B.C. with a population of over 468,000, according to Census Canada. As Mayor, Watts achieved the lowest residential tax rates and business taxes in Metro Vancouver, worked on a Sustainability Charter that guides the city’s approach to social, environmental, cultural, and economical sustainability, and released the Surrey Crime Reduction Strategy, which has become an inspirational model for other cities.

Her dedication to bettering the city can perhaps be attributed to her background in Buddhist practices. In her interview with Fresh Magazine she said that Buddhism holds philosophical appeal to her. In particular, she felt inspired by “the reverence of all human life, compassion for all life,” and the “flow of life” that can guide a person through existence.

This kind of approach to politics makes her an outsider, and she has often turned heads in the political realm. However, her position as an outspoken female Conservative party representative allows her to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and belief systems.

When I asked myself what kind of leader Dianne Watts would be, I made the mistake of judging her negatively for her association with the federal Conservative party. When I sat down, opened up her political history, and read about who she was, my mind changed.

Her intentions seem clear. In interview she had with The Province just prior to announcing her bid for the B.C. Liberals leadership, Watts said that “You’ve got to stand for something, and it should be limiting taxes and creating jobs.” Historically, she has stood by those same principles, and transparency is usually the last thing you’ll find in a politician.

Watts doesn’t lead with her ego by tearing down her competition, and I think it’s a rare quality that will take her further in the race.

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