Former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts is favourite potential BC Liberals leader: survey

Aug 29 2017, 2:40 am

Only one potential candidate for party leader of the BC Liberals could topple the BC NDP, according to a new survey.

Former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, who is currently a federal Conservative MP for South Surrey, is the most favoured individual for the BC Liberals’ leadership based on the findings of a survey by Insights West.

Watts had a favourability rating of 39%, which is considerably higher than all of the other prospective leadership contenders including former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan at 30%, former BC Minister of Finance Mike de Jong at 28%, former television reporter Jas Johal at 24%, and former BC Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon at 23%.

If Watts were to run against the BC NDP, she is the only prospective leader to clearly outperform the governing party, with 30% to 25% in favour of the BC Liberals. The favourability rating under her leadership increases to 44% to 37% when undecided voters are not accounted for.

“When British Columbians ponder the possibility of Dianne Watts as leader of the BC Liberals, the party’s fortunes change dramatically when compared with other possible contenders,” sai Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West.

“The Watts-led BC Liberals would enjoy a significantly higher level of support from voters aged 55 and over and residents of the Lower Mainland.”

Some of the other former cabinet ministers under the former Christy Clark government who may consider running for party leadership have a low level of name recognition. Almost four in 10 people say they do not know enough about former BC Transportation Minister Todd Stone and former BC Education Minister Mike Bernier, and this number climbs to 46% for Andrew Wilkinson.

Only de Jong has formally stated he is considering running to lead the party.

“I appreciate the number of people who have encouraged me to run as a BC Liberal leadership candidate,” said de Jong in a statement.

“I am also grateful to my caucus colleagues who have reached out with their supportive advice as the party undertakes this important process of renewal.  At this point I am considering whether or not to enter the leadership race and I intend to make that decision in the coming weeks.”

The survey conducted between August 14 and 17 also gauged British Columbians’ thoughts on BC NDP Premier John Horgan. With just under a month under his wing, 52% of residents approve of his performance while 31% disapprove.

The rating is significantly lower for interim BC Liberals leader Rich Coleman at 28%.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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