Thursday, February 21, 2013

Democracy, Governance, and Environment: Mayor Dianne Watts Interview


In this podcast, Mr. Stephen Garvey, Foundation for Democratic Advancement Executive Director, interviews Ms. Dianne Watts, three-term Surrey, British Columbia, Canada council member and three-term Surrey mayor which she currently holds. In 2010, The City Mayors Foundation determined Dianne to be the fourth best mayor in the world for her long-lasting contributions to her community. The interview begins with Dianne sharing her perspective on the controversial Gateway Casino application which failed to be approved by the Surrey Council in January, 2013 and despite various opposition including from the British Columbia provincial government. Dianne says decisively that the development application and any other application rests with the Surrey Council and no one else, and that there is always outside noise that councillors need to cope with when making decisions on development applications. Dianne says the important thing is to make the right decision which reflects the better interests of the community as a whole. In addition, Dianne says that she supports the recall of elected officials subject to sufficient process to avoid the politicizing of any recall initiatives, and that she is open to citizen referendum on development applications subject to reasonable criteria. She voiced concerns that such a governance model based on citizen referendum may prevent for examples homeless shelters from ever getting approved so concrete guidelines for referendum need to be established. Also, decisions on development applications are far more than a numbers game in terms of public opinion; these applications are often complex in nature and involve various conflicting perspectives that need to be taken into account. In regard to economic growth and environmental protection, she says that these two areas require constant attention and a balanced approach. To deal with this balance, she refers to safeguards she help implement in Surrey such as protected forests and green zones, practical land usage application requirements, replacement of trees program, and citizen consultancy. Finally, she shares her thoughts on democratic issues facing the people of British Columbia, such as the strict provincial political party discipline and the need to reform that practice in order to ensure that elected officials are able to truly and freely represent their districts. Overall, Dianne touches on issues affecting many communities throughout the world, and she provides examples, leadership, and direction as to how best to deal with them. Dianne demonstrates that she approachable and willing to talk directly about sensitive and important issues, and thereby providing some cause for her popularity and being deemed a people's representative. This podcast is a refreshing interview of an elected official who is truly trying her best for her community. After listening to the podcast, it should not be surprising why Dianne was determined in 2010 to be the fourth best mayor in the world. For non-mainstream, insightful, and provocative discussion from people working in the field of international politics, listen in or download the FDA podcasts.

The views expressed in the Foundation for Democratic Advancement's podcast do not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation. The FDA supports broad and free speech, and the purposes of its blog posts and podcasts are to encourage discussion and education, and to compensate for deficiencies in mainstream media coverage.

Ms. Dianne Watts Interview

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2 comments:

Thank you for sharing your perspective.