British Columbia

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts seeks federal Conservative nomination for South Surrey-White Rock

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts has confirmed she plans to seek the federal Conservative nomination to run for Parliament in the Metro Vancouver riding of South Surrey-White Rock.

Popular politician is nearing end of her 3rd term as mayor of B.C.'s second-largest city

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts is shown outside the new city hall complex on April 26, 2014, just after announcing that she would be leaving municipal politics. (CBC)

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts has confirmed she plans to seek the federal Conservative nomination to run for Parliament in the Metro Vancouver riding of South Surrey-White Rock.

“I have spent the past 19 years serving the City of Surrey as a councillor and mayor. This decision comes after months of reflection and, ultimately, the desire to continue to advocate on behalf of Surrey-White Rock at the national level,” says Watts in a statement released on Thursday morning.

The seat has been a Conservative stronghold since its creation in 2004, when Conservative MP Russ Hiebert was first elected. Hiebert announced in February that he would not be seeking a fifth term in the 2015 federal election.

Watts who has served three terms as mayor since first being elected to the position in 2005, said in April that she would not be seeking re-election in this year's municipal elections. 

But despite widespread speculation, she left the question of what she would do next unanswered—until now.

On Thursday morning she told CBC News it was only recently that she actually committed to run for the nomination.

"I made a decision only over the past number of weeks," said Watts. "I've been a small-c conservative for quite some time....I also have a significant social conscience."

International concerns

Despite her history in municipal politics, Watts cited international affairs as the first and foremost reason she wants to be an MP.

"The downing of the two airlines, the beheading of foreign journalists as well as aide workers, kidnapping of young girls, and all of those things that hit home to me."

It's a quote she's used in other media, followed up by her assertion that Canada has a moral obligation to be a leader, and her question to herself about who should lead Canada.

"For me, the answer was Stephen Harper," she told CBC News.

Watts says she's also passionate about infrastructure and transportation issues, which polling says next to crime, are  top issues for Surrey voters.

"I think it will be very important to be advocating on behalf not only the City of Surrey, but also the region, in terms of rapid transit and infrastructure."

Watts has been a popular leader for B.C.'s second-largest city, and received 80 per cent of the vote three years ago in the last municipal election.

With files from the CBC's Meera Bains

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