Mayor Dianne Watts

Watts in Israel on trade mission

Surrey mayor under fire for spending taxpayers' money on a trip that may or may not pay significant dividends

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts is in Israel, drumming up partnerships with medical technology firms.

The mayor is working toward turning the city into the country’s “innovation gateway” and hopes partnerships with Israel can help get Surrey there.

But not everyone is enthused with Watts jetting off to Israel on the taxpayers’ dime.

Jordan Bateman, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said that often prime ministers and premiers go on these sorts of business missions, but municipal politicians don’t have the same clout as their senior counterparts.

“To me, the question always comes back to what’s the business plan behind this,” Bateman said. “We haven’t seen one. And taxpayers are sending the mayor to Israel at a time when we’re contemplating a tax increase, among other issues.”

Bateman, a former councillor in Langley, also said he’s never seen this type of spending taking place without the nod from council.

“This surprised me… I always thought you couldn’t spend money unless you had a motion of council.”

It was instead approved by Surrey’s Investment and Innovation Committee on Dec. 2.

Watts said in a release the trip is a worthwhile venture.

“Israel is known as the world’s global ‘start-up nation’,” she said. “Surrey is looking to tap into Israel’s pioneering cutting edge medical, entrepreneurial and scientific innovation.”

She is joined by businesses from the health sector and universities to strengthen Innovation Boulevard – in and around Surrey Memorial Hospital, SFU and City Centre.

Watts said Surrey will partner with Israel Brain Technologies, Israel’s most prestigious neuro-technology consortium created by Israel’s President Shimon Peres.

@diakiw

 

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