Dianne Watts

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Dianne Watts
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts by Erin Loxam (2008).jpg
Official Opposition Critic for Infrastructure & Communities
Assumed office
20 November 2015
Leader Rona Ambrose
Preceded by Matthew Kellway
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for South Surrey—White Rock
Assumed office
October 19, 2015
Preceded by riding created
35th Mayor of Surrey
In office
December 5, 2005 – December 8, 2014
Preceded by Doug McCallum
Succeeded by Linda Hepner
Surrey City Councillor
In office
December 2, 1996 – December 5, 2005
Personal details
Born (1959-10-30) October 30, 1959 (age 56)
Vancouver, British Columbia
Nationality Canadian
Political party Surrey First (municipal)
Conservative (federal)
Spouse(s) Brian Watts[1]
Residence Surrey, British Columbia
Profession Politician

Dianne Lynn Watts (born October 30, 1959) is a municipal and federal politician in British Columbia, Canada. She won her first federal election campaign in October 2015 to become a federal Member of Parliament for South Surrey—White Rock. Previously, Watts served as the mayor of Surrey, the second-largest city in the province from 2005 to 2014. She was elected in 2005 to this office as the city's first female mayor.[2]

Early life[edit]

Watts was born on October 30, 1959.[3][4] She is a second-generation Canadian with Ukrainian-Yugoslavian roots.[5]

She studied at Mount Pleasant Elementary School and Templeton High School in Vancouver's east side before moving to Kelowna. After graduating from Kelowna Secondary School, she married her first husband at the age of 18.[6] After a divorce, she travelled and worked in Australia and other countries in the 1980s.

After her return to Canada, Watts worked as a credit manager and a materials consultant for an architecture firm during her 20s and early 30s. She married Surrey resident Brian Watts in 1992.[7] She was a stay-at-home mother with two daughters prior to being a campaign manager for new provincial MLA and family friend Bonnie McKinnon in 1991.[6] Watts later won a seat on city council in 1996 with Doug McCallum's Surrey Electors Team.

Municipal politics[edit]

Before becoming mayor, she served on the Surrey City Council since her election in 1996.

She ran as an independent candidate, defeating incumbent Doug McCallum at the polls on November 19, 2005, who had been her political ally as recently as 2003. When she announced her intent to challenge McCallum, she claimed that a "culture of control and conflict has developed at city hall under Doug McCallum" and promised "better co-operation between the city and senior governments to bring more social services into Surrey to deal with homelessness, drug use and crime".[8]

Her election affected regional politics as well, since she replaced McCallum on the board of the Greater Vancouver Regional District.[9]

Dianne Watts at Winterfest 2008

Watts created a political slate called "Surrey First" for the 2008 municipal elections. The slate was made up of current councillors and aspiring individuals from the community. Surrey First is not an official party and its members are reportedly free to vote their consciences on land development and other contentious issues before City Hall. On November 15, 2008, Watts defeated her lone challenger for the mayor's chair by almost 43,000 votes and all six members of her Surrey First slate—Judy Villenneuve, Tom Gill, Barbara Steele, Linda Hepner, Mary Martin and newcomer Barinder Rasode—won seats on Surrey City Council.

She has been called one of Surrey's most popular, influential and transformative mayors in the Metro Vancouver region.[6] She served a term as chair of the Mayor's Council on Regional Transportation (the board which oversees TransLink). Watts was among the finalists for the 2010 World Mayor prize. She had also been touted as a possible future Premier of British Columbia.[2] Watts was ultimately selected as "the fourth-best mayor in the world, according to the 2010 World Mayor Prize."[10][11] This project, organized by the City Mayors Foundation, recognizes mayors who have made long-lasting contributions to their communities.

Watts was a driving force behind the controversial 2011 Surrey Regional Economic Summit, in which former US presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton were featured speakers. Amnesty International, the Canadian Centre for International Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Lawyers Against the War all called on Canadian authorities to arrest and prosecute Bush for the use of torture by U.S. forces.[12] Amnesty International stated it had provided the RCMP with more than 4,000 pages of documents[13] alleging that the former US president was engaged in war crimes, and called for his arrest. The human rights group stated that it had submitted a memorandum to Canadian officials outlining why Bush was legally responsible for human-rights violations that took place between 2002 and 2009.[14] The summit was also expected to draw protests.[12] The protests in Surrey were relatively peaceful and brief and did not engage many Surrey residents.

This action did not prevent Watts' re-election to a third term as mayor of Surrey on November 19, 2011 with 80% of the vote. Her slate of Surrey First candidates won all seats on city council and even defeated Robert (Bob) Bose, her sole opponent on Surrey City Council. This might testify to her personal popularity among Surrey voters who have bought into her vision of a modern Surrey with numerous modern multi-family residential townhome and condos, retail, commercial and light industrial developments as well as her attempt to bring more social services to her city. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia will also have their new 76,000 square metre LEED gold certified headquarters in Surrey Green Timbers Park, near Surrey Central City, by early 2013—with all the extra employment that this might entail.[15]

Federal politics[edit]

At the April 2014 opening ceremony for the new City Hall in Surrey City Centre (formerly Whalley), Watts announced that she would not seek re-election as mayor in the November 2014 municipal election. On September 18, 2014 Watts announced that she was running for the Conservative Party of Canada nomination to replace Russ Hiebert who is retiring as federal Member of Parliament for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale.[16] As of March 2015, Watts won the party's nomination by acclamation for the revised constituency of South Surrey—White Rock.[17]

Watts won her first federal election campaign on October 19, 2015, and was the only Conservative candidate elected in Surrey's four ridings in the 2015 federal election. Watts received 44% of ballots, or 24,934 of 56,631, ahead of Liberal candidate Judy Higginbotham who received 41.5% according to unofficial Elections Canada results.

Electoral record[edit]


Canadian federal election, 2015
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Dianne Lynn Watts 24,934 44.0% -8.9
Liberal Judith Higginbotham 23,495 41.5% +22.5
New Democratic Pixie Hobby 5,895 10.4% -8.8
Green Larry Colero 1,938 3.4% -2.5
Libertarian Bonnie Hu 261 0.5%
Progressive Canadian Brian Marlatt 108 0.2%
Total valid votes/Expense limit 56,631 100.0     $207,072.75
Total rejected ballots 219
Turnout 56,850
Eligible voters 76,068
Conservative hold Swing -15.7
Source: Elections Canada[18][19]



Candidate Party Vote  %
Dianne Watts (X) Surrey First 55,826 80.29
Ross Buchanan Independent 6,267 9.01
Vikram Bajwa Independent 4,481 6.44
Clifford Inimgba Independent 1,183 1.70
Deanna Welters Independent 1,147 1.65
Shan Rana Independent 330 0.47
Touraj Ghanbar-Zadeh Independent 298 0.43
Joginder Ranhawa Independent 0 0.00


Candidate Vote  %
Dianne Watts (X) 51,423 85.9
Murray Weisenberger 8,465 14.1


Candidate Vote  %
Dianne Watts 45,981 55.3
Doug McCallum (X) 35,558 40.3
Joe Pal 456 0.5
Joginder Singh Randhawa 448 0.5
Brady Warren Halverson 403 0.5
Jag Bhandari 327 0.4


  1. ^ Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts: More than meets the eye. Frances Bula, The Globe and Mail, February 19, 2010
  2. ^ a b Hume, Mark (November 6, 2010). Surrey mayor considers her next political move. The Globe and Mail, p. A8. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  3. ^ David Jordan, "Surrey Mayor". Surrey Leader, June 25, 2012.
  4. ^ Dianne Watts: Surrey's Saviour. BC Business, September 1, 2007.
  5. ^ "Interview with Dianne Watts". jjmccullough.com. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c Bula, Francis (2009-01-02). "Her Worship: Dianne Watts transformed herself from an ignored, bullied, and abused young woman into a highly effective and appealing mayor. She's remaking the oft-abused city of Surrey in much the same way". Vancouver Magazine. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  7. ^ Ward, Doug (June 10, 2006). "From shy to sure". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved Feb 28, 2015. 
  8. ^ "SET co-founder moves on to back Watts for mayor". The Now, October 10, 2005.
  9. ^ "Surrey voters will determine GVRD's future". The Georgia Straight, November 10, 2005.
  10. ^ Watts named world's fourth-best mayor (in 2010). Vancouver Sun, December 8, 2010.
  11. ^ "A Global Honour for Surrey Mayor". Metro, December 8, 2010.
  12. ^ a b Occupy Surrey protest to welcome George W. Bush to Canada. The Georgia Straight, October 13, 2011.
  13. ^ "Hundreds demand George W. Bush's arrest at Surrey protest". The Globe and Mail, October 20, 2011.
  14. ^ "Amnesty International calls for George W. Bush’s arrest as Surrey visit looms". The Georgia Straight, October 12, 2011.
  15. ^ RCMP E Division Headquarters Relocation Project Fact Sheet. Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2010.
  16. ^ Surrey mayor to seek federal Conservative nomination. The Globe and Mail, September 17, 2014.
  17. ^ "Former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts bolsters Conservative cause". The Globe and Mail. March 25, 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2015. 
  18. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for South Surrey—White Rock, 30 September 2015
  19. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates