OpinionBarry Artiste, Now Public ContributorSurrey’s Mayor Diane Watts certainly shows Politicians everywhere she definitely wears the pants in her City, with the Cajones to fill em. Not unlike Cajonless Politicians last year who attended a Celebrated Sikh Vaisakhi Festival marred by a Sikh Temple who featured Terrorist Martyrs, of which one was the leader in the Fatal and Horrific Air India Bombing off the Coast of Ireland two decades ago. Last years event-featuring Terrorists who committed atrocities against innocents was well attended by Provincial and Federal Politicians of every Political Stripe in their quest to wrangle the ethnic vote. Many Sikhs as well were horrified one of their most ancient cherished traditional celebration was made less celebratory by those wishing to make a political statement in what is otherwise a celebration of spring, much like our May Day parades, thanksgiving parades etc. Perhaps these Politicians, including our British Columbia Premier could have been forgiving in not knowing the Terrorist aspect of the festival, if it were not for the ongoing Terrorist Trial on the Air India Bombing featuring this Martyr being constantly being in the media. Certainly Politicians read the papers, watch TV, and most are involved in the trial as Government officials. Politicians caught attending this event and their excuse of “We didn’t know, an excuse by some which translated to we didn’t bother to find out, because there were thousands of ethnic votes to be had here. Below is my link to last years story on this. http://www.nowpublic.com/premier_campbell_disco_dances_at_vaisakhi_festival Mayor Diane Watts is reported to be the only one in attendance last year to take notice of the Terrorist aspect in the Parade and much to her detriment made it publicly known her strong displeasure, a displeasure some of the Sikh constituents who organized the event let her know in no uncertain terms that it is their Multicultural event amongst other unpublished comments made to her, comments made to her that will now see Mayor Diane Watts at today’s Sikh festival in Surrey attending this event with Police Protection and some believe wearing a light body armour.This protection some believe is necessary when Mayor Diane Watts was informed those in the Sikh community who want to use the festival as a vehicle to glorify the so-called Khalistan martyrs may not comply with her edict. Mayor Diane Watts found out that the committee from the Dasmesh Darbar Sikh temple would not agree to refrain from showing any photos of said martyrs on a float or in a tent on the festival grounds, she very publicly said: "Not with me in the parade."Mayor Diane Watts is also Surrey’s Fervent Crime Fighter publicly stating Criminals are not welcome, and we will make your life hell certainly rang true in her quest to rid Surrey of criminal elements in her city. They say, Mayor Diane Watts may have a future in Provincial or Federal Politics, I agree, but for her to do any good, she would have to be in a Leadership role to make a difference.Because as anyone knows who has been following her Political Career in a Male Dominated Political Sea of Cajonless Politicians, She ain’t “No follower, and Nobody’s Baby”.
Gutsy Diane Watts deserves bigger stageColumn: Surrey has something special in mayor who refused to overlook glorification of Air India bomberPete McMartin, Vancouver SunPublished: Friday, April 11, 2008
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts is on the phone - calling three hours late because she has had a hellishly busy day - and a question, asked in all seriousness, is put to her.
Will she be wearing body armour to attend the Vaisakhi festival Saturday?
There is a pause. She says: "Off the record?" Well . . . no.
"Well," the mayor says, after some consideration, "some comments have been made about my safety, and we'll have the RCMP at the event, and they will be in the area around me."
The mayor would be no more precise than that. But asked if there had been threats made against her, or if she had been asked not to go for fear of her personal safety, she said:
"Let me put it this way: I think there are opinions right across the board if I should go or not go. But I am going to [the festival] to be with my community.
"Let the chips fall where they may, I suppose."
In other words, if I heard Watts's careful replies correctly, the mayor of B.C.'s second-largest city will attend its largest cultural festival under police protection. She will do this to be with her "community."
Her community, I think, has someone special in their mayor.
Watts, of course, had the temerity to stand up to those in the Sikh community who want to use the festival as a vehicle to glorify the so-called Khalistan martyrs. When she found out that the committee from the Dasmesh Darbar Sikh temple would not agree to refrain from showing any photos of said martyrs on a float or in a tent on the festival grounds, she very publicly said: "Not with me in the parade."
She announced she would attend the festival, but not as part of any of its formal celebrations. Politics, she said, especially politics connected to organizations the federal government had identified as terrorist organizations, had no place in a cultural festival.
Of course, Watts was at the parade last year, when The Vancouver Sun's own Kim Bolan pointed out that a float in the parade featured, among others, a photo of Air India bombing mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar.
But whatever happens at today's parade and festival, Watts has shown herself to have the biggest cojones of the pack of politicians out there. Her decision to refuse to participate in the festival's formal events was gutsy and morally correct - attributes that have been in short supply on this issue.
It was also made, I'm sure, with a politician's acumen for number-crunching. A third of Surrey's population is South Asian, and Watts enjoys support among it. She would have to weigh the number of Sikh votes she might alienate against the number of Surrey voters at large who would cheer it.
My guess? With one act of political will, she has outgrown the borders of Surrey. After this, there will be thousands of voters, local or otherwise, who would gladly carry her on a throne into any political office of her choosing. Victoria? Ottawa? Why not? She's shown she's bigger than Surrey.
Evidence of the effects of that came late in the day Friday, when the Dasmesh Darbar Sikh temple put out a press release stating that: banned organizations will not be allowed to participate in any shape or form; pictures depicting violence or the outcome of violence will not be permitted; no acts to promote hate and violence against any person or group will be permitted; and anyone wearing anything depicting a banned organization "will be responsible for their own actions."
We'll have to wait and see come today's festival.
In the meantime, Mayor Watts, good luck with that community thing. Here's hoping no chips fall on you.
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