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Dianne Watts: Queen of B.C.

September 12th, 2009 · 13 Comments

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts continues to get glowing coverage from the B.C. media and favourable reviews from the public. Earlier this week, an Angus Reid poll — the one that said three-quarters of people thought Gordon Campbell should step down after this term — had Dianne Watts at the top of the list by a country kilometre of favoured choices to replace him.

She was the only current politician who was still in favour, with the rest of Campbell’s cabinet mired at the bottom with him, and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson not doing much better. The only person who came close was former deputy premier and now radio-show host Christy Clark. All of that being a sign that people are in a throw-the-bums-out mood, but somehow Dianne doesn’t come across as one of the ruling bunch that needs to be thrown out.

My friend Ian Bailey at the Globe has another big-time positive story about her today, focusing on her efforts to remake Surrey’s downtown — or should I say more accurately, to create a downtown out of nothing.

All of which continues to fuel speculation about whether Dianne will move to the provincial scene. I’ll be fascinated to see how that story turns out. As you can’t help noticing when you interview her, she is an incredibly warm, spontaneous, fun person who seems to be very comfortable with who she is and how to deal with the media, issues, everyone in Surrey from social-service agencies to the Board of Trade.

But, although all my political-pundit friends pooh-pooh me, I can’t help wondering if she really wants to do that. She’s gotten such good media because she’s brought in ideas that are new to Surrey. In Vancouver, they might not even get noticed, but in Surrey, they’re nothing short of revolutionary. She doesn’t get the scrutiny others get. (In fact, I could only find one recent item, a blog post, that had anything critical at all to say about Dianne on Laila Yule’s site here.) But that would change big-time at the provincial level.

As well, I have to wonder if the complexities of provincial party politics are really her cup of tea. She’s literally created her own private party in Surrey, a vehicle that works well for her. Heading up a provincial party means managing a lot of big egos and conflicting agendas, which some people thrive on and others decide is not worth the trouble.

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