Federal Conservative candidate Dianne Watts is standing by the message of campaign literature delivered door-to-door in the South Surrey-White Rock riding last week.
Her campaign card – which says, beside the Conservative party logo, “We will fight jihadist terrorists at home and abroad” and includes an quote originally attributed to an Islamic extremist, “You will not feel secure in your bedrooms” – has received fallout from political opponents and area residents who claim it is “fear mongering.”
But Watts denied this in a written statement to Peace Arch News issued Wednesday morning.
“I do not believe there was any intention to fear monger,” she said, adding that the Conservatives’ stance on intervention to defeat ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) forces was instrumental in her decision to run for the party.
“While both the NDP and Liberals have stated they will pull out of the coalition and end the ISIS combat mission, under Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper we will continue to address threats to our national security and help protect the innocent people from the violence and brutality of ISIS.”
The card, which bears Watts’ name and picture on the reverse side, features photographs of NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and quotes expressing their opposition to Canadian participation in anti-ISIS combat missions.
In her written statement, Watts cites media reports of “hundreds of thousands of Syrian people fleeing their country” and “1.5 million Nigerians forced from their homes by Boko Haram.”
“Canada cannot sit on the sidelines and watch these atrocities continue,” the former Surrey mayor said. “I decided to run for the Conservative Party because they are the only party that has taken a stand against this type of violence and terrorism.
“ISIS has clearly declared Canada as a target for terrorism.”
After hearing from upset Peninsula residents, Liberal candidate Judy Higginbotham and NDP candidate Pixie Hobby – while attacking the cards as “fear-mongering” – had expressed doubts that the tone of the message had been endorsed by Watts.
PAN has heard from several sources that complaining residents had been told by workers at Watts’ campaign office that she had not originated or endorsed the card message.
Watts was not available for direct interview with PAN, however the Globe & Mail quoted her as saying the flyer was generated and mailed by the Conservative party in Ottawa.
In her written statement, she offered the death of Canadian soldiers in Ottawa and Quebec in 2014, and a foiled attempt to bomb the B.C. legislature in 2013, as specific examples of terrorism directed against Canada.
“Prime Minister Harper wants to ensure that Canadians are safe – stop the recruitment and financing of terrorists – and give law enforcement the tools they need to deal with these issues,” she said.