September 20, 2017 9:05 pm
Updated: September 20, 2017 9:27 pm

Dianne Watts to seek BC Liberal leadership, step down as Conservative MP

She's expected to announce her run for the leadership on Sunday.

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Surrey Conservative MP Dianne Watts is set to step down from her federal seat and run for the leadership of the BC Liberal Party.

Watts, the former three-term mayor of Surrey, has long been speculated as a candidate to lead the BC Liberals, who became the opposition after the BC NDP formed a minority government with the support of the Greens.

She’s expected to announce her run for the leadership on Sunday.

Coverage of Dianne Watts on Globalnews.ca:

Watts’ run will trigger a byelection in her federal riding of South Surrey-White Rock, which she won for the Conservatives in the 2015 election.

She won the riding with 24,934 votes.

Earlier this summer, Watts was appointed to new federal Conservative Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer’s shadow cabinet as critic for Employment Workforce Development and Labour.

READ MORE: Dianne Watts to make decision on BC Liberal leadership ‘over the next week or so’

Watts had told CKNW late last month that she was set to make a decision “over the next week or so.”

But she likely won’t be alone in the race. Former attorney general Andrew Wilkinson is expected to announce his own leadership bid on Monday.

Other names that have been discussed in connection with the leadership race include former finance minister Mike de Jong, former education minister Mike Bernier, ex-transportation minister Todd Stone, former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan and MLA Michael Lee.

Dianne Watts, centre, who served as the mayor of Surrey from 2005-2014, listens as then-prime minister Stephen Harper speaks during an announcement about the apprentice loan program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology Annacis Island Campus in Delta, B.C., on January 8, 2015.

Darryl Dyck/CP

Terrace businesswoman Lucy Sager is also believed to be eyeing a run at the leadership.

There is speculation that former federal Liberal minister Herb Dhaliwal is kicking the tires on a leadership bid. Vancity CEO Tamara Vrooman is also being talked about as someone who may run.

Entrants will have to pay a preliminary $10,000 fee to enter the leadership race, and another $50,000 if they want to stay in the race up until February, when party members choose a new leader.

The vote will take place online, with a phone option, from Feb. 1 through 8, 2018.

  • With files from Keith Baldrey

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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