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5 minutes with: Dianne Watts

Dianne Watts was elected mayor of Surrey in 2005, becoming the first woman in the city’s history to hold the office.

Dianne Watts was elected mayor of Surrey in 2005, becoming the first woman in the city’s history to hold the office. One of B.C.’s most popular politicians, she has been routinely courted for higher office.

You’re regarded as one of the province’s most high-profile political celebrities. Why do you think there’s so much interest in you?
I think probably because I’m not a political person or play politics. For me, it’s about getting the work done, effecting change, and making sure we have good public policy in place. So that’s my focus — not how to get ahead politically.

Do you think of yourself as someone who has a strong ideology?
I have a strong sense of right and wrong, a value system, and a moral compass. That’s what drives me. I think it’s important to do the right thing as opposed to doing something that’s popular, or something that moves you ahead politically.

A lot of the interest in you is obviously due to the fact that you are a strong female politician, which is fairly rare in Canada. Why don’t we elect more women leaders?
Well, I would probably disagree with you on that front. If you look at female leaders like Carole James, Virginia Green, or Christy Clark you can certainly see that they have a lot to offer. I think that the challenge comes into play when you have a political environment that doesn’t necessarily foster women getting into politics.

What’s keeping the women out?
I think for me, and many other women, it’s about family and raising children and prioritizing your life in a way that works for you. Also, women don’t like to get down and roll around in the gutter of the political arena. There’s no necessity for it, there’s no reason why that should even be part of politics. I think when many women look at what goes on, they decide they’d rather put their energy elsewhere.

 
 
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