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Former Surrey Mayor Dianne WattsDARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

A star Conservative candidate in British Columbia says she didn't mean to fear-monger when she released a campaign flyer warning Vancouver-area voters of jihadi terrorists.

Former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts has come under fire after her campaign distributed a leaflet promising that a Tory government would fight terrorists both at home and abroad.

The leaflet included a quote from a video released last year by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant saying Canadians should not feel secure in their bedrooms.

"Terrorism is a real and serious issue," said Watts in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. "ISIS has clearly declared Canada as a target for terrorism."

Watts' Liberal counterpart, Judy Higginbotham, said her office was flooded with complaints after the flyer went out to the voters of South Surrey-White Rock.

"This is kind of meant to provoke and evoke and frighten people into voting, or to bring out the rednecks to vote," said Higginbotham, who described first seeing the flyer as "a shock."

Higginbotham served as a Surrey city councillor for 25 years, working alongside Watts during her tenure both as councillor and eventually mayor. She said the Tory campaign tactic of frightening people into voting Conservative strikes her as inconsistent with Watts' character.

The New Democrats reported experiencing a similar negative response from their supporters to the Tory ad.

"Some constituents came into my campaign office mad as hops with the flyer in their hand," said Pixie Hobby, the riding's NDP candidate.

"These kinds of fear tactics unfortunately seem to be a staple of Conservative campaigns."

In her statement, Watts defended her party's stance and said the violence inflicted on the people of Syria and Iraq cannot go unanswered.

"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," she said.

Both NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have rejected military action against ISIS and urged that Canada stick to providing humanitarian aid in the region.

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