Teresa Wat eyes Richmond Centre

Teresa Wat is the Liberal candidate for Richmond Centre.  -
Teresa Wat is the Liberal candidate for Richmond Centre.
— image credit:

Just a week ago, school trustee Grace Tsang and veteran Mountie Gary Law were gearing up to battle it out for the Liberal nomination in Richmond Centre.

But that all changed Thursday when the B.C. Liberals named Teresa Wat as their candidate for the MLA position currently held by the soon-to-retire Rob Howard.

Tsang opted to step aside, instead accepting a position as co-chair of Premier Christy Clark's Chinese Advisory Committee, while Law said he was blind-sided by the announcement and is examining his options.

Wat, a 63-year-old Burnaby resident who is the president and chief executive officer of radio station CHMB AM1320, decided to toss her hat into the political ring after being approached by Richmond Centre MLA Rob Howard last month.

Howard—whom she knew through her work that routinely brings her to Richmond at events involving politicians—asked if she had any interest in running for a provincial position.

Politics has long been something near and dear to her heart, she said, but family circumstances made it a career path she was previously unable to pursue. She used to work for the provincial government from 1996 to 2002, in different ministries including multiculturalism, as well as in the office of NDP Premier Glen Clark.

Wat lost her husband to cancer in 2011—he was first diagnosed in 2003—and a during that time she admittedly struggled to cope with work and home life.

But now that her 30-year-old daughter is all grown up, Wat has time on her hands.

"I feel the time is right now," she said Tuesday.

Wat said she's long believed that ethnic minorities should be involved in all levels of community politics.

"When I make a decision, I devote all my energy and efforts to whatever pursuit I am taking," she said.

Wat doesn't live in Richmond, but she says outside of sleeping in her Burnaby home, she estimates she spends 60 to 70 per cent of her time on Lulu Island.

"Most of my activities are actually in Richmond," she said, adding that even from her radio station's office on Marine Drive, she has a view of Richmond.

Most of her radio station's audience is in Richmond, most of her staff live here, she attends lunches, dinners and other functions in Richmond, and both her herbalist and acupuncturist call Richmond home.

Asked if she would move to Richmond if elected, Wat said before she makes that decision, she will give strong consideration to her elderly parents, who are octogenarians.

They currently live with her, she said, and are deeply rooted to their surroundings, and she's concerned about the impact and stress of moving them to Richmond.

"Of course I want to move to Richmond, but I have to take care of my parents," she said.

Asked what she sees as the top issues for the voters in Richmond Centre, Wat said her personal ideology fits in line with the B.C. Liberals, which is focusing on job creation and building a strong economy.

She's concerned about the crime that's come since the Canada Line was built, and said seniors in Richmond Centre are facing issues of housing affordability.

Wat first moved to Canada in 1989, and said she feels as much as anybody that she's Canadian.

She sees herself as filling in the bridging role between the ethnic community and the mainstream community, so the two can work together more harmoniously.

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