Controversy around having former president George W. Bush speak at Surrey’s economic summit didn’t hurt Mayor Dianne Watts’ popularity.
Neither did news that council considered selling land to a Aquilini Renewable Energy, which was planning to build a waste-to-energy plant at 32 Avenue and 192 Street in South Surrey.
Waste to energy can, but does not always, include incineration.
The day after those two events, a poll of Surrey residents showed Watts’ job approval was 68 per cent – the fourth highest of the 15 cities surveyed across the country.
Toronto firm Forum Research conducted a telephone poll of 407 people in Surrey, on Oct. 21, 22 and 23, and found that Watt’s job approval rating is 68 per cent. Out of those asked, 56 per cent said they would vote for her again.
The poll is accurate within 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
The questions were asked a day after the arrival of Bush, who caused a fair amount of controversy for Watts, with several groups, including Amnesty International, calling for his arrest for war crimes.
The polls were also taken the day after The Leader revealed council considered the sale of a South Surrey property to Aquilini Renewable Energy for use as a waste incinerator.
Despite the timing, Watts came in fourth both in approval rating and likelihood of obtaining votes.
Leading the nation was “Hurricane” Hazel McCallion out of Mississauga, Ontario, who despite being embroiled in a conflict-of-interest situation last week, obtained a job approval rating of 78 per cent. Sixty-one per cent of the Mississauga voters said they will vote for her again.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, described by Forum Research President Lorne Bozinoff as “a new cool Albertan centrist,” is enjoying a 76-per-cent popularity rating, and 58 per cent polled said they would re-elect him.
Regis Labeaume, mayor of Quebec City, has a 74-per-cent job approval rating, with 67 per cent saying they would put him back in office.
Bozinoff told The Leader in a telephone interview Tuesday that Watts is enjoying some astounding numbers.
“She’s doing really, really well,” Bozinoff said. “In terms of our rankings, fourth out of 15 is really good.”
He noted that the fact she was touted as a potential premier likely means she has strong leadership qualities.
Watts took 55 per cent of the vote when she was first elected mayor in 2005, and 51 per cent in 2008. Bozinoff said if she can hold on to those numbers, it puts her on par with the likes of McCallion as a mayor who doesn’t lose the honeymoon period of popularity.
“To be that high after six years, that’s impressive too,” Bozinoff said, adding McCallion is the exception that makes the rule. “And you know what? We’re going to say Dianne Watts is sort of in that category too… she’s doing something right obviously.”
The bottom dwellers in the approval ratings across the country were Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (37 per cent) and Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay (32 per cent).
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson came in at 49 per cent job approval, with 44 per cent willing to put him back in office.