B.C. Liberal, NDP leaders canvass votes at Surrey Vaisakhi festivities

Liberal Stephanie Cadieux wins Surrey South

Liberal leader Christy Clark and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan walked the streets of Surrey Saturday at the annual Vaisakhi festival hoping to spread their campaign messages in a key battleground.

Vaisakhi marks the creation of the Khalsa and pays tribute to the start of the Punjabi harvest. For Hindus, it is a celebration of the start of the new year.

Hundreds of thousands of people come out every year to see the parades, enjoy fresh food and watch live music. And politicians come in droves.

With the provincial election a little more than two weeks away, both Clark and Horgan wasted little time spreading their campaign messages in a city that some say could decide the upcoming election.

There are nine provincial electoral ridings in Surrey, and a few of them are considered some of the tightest in the race. 

Key ridings

The festival itself is held in the riding of Surrey-Green Timbers, which has been held by Sue Hammell of the NDP for 22 years.

Hammell is retiring and the NDP wants to keep that Surrey seat.

The riding of Surrey-Fleetwood was decided by just 200 votes in the 2013 election and is another riding to watch.

"I'm excited about our candidates and Surrey is definitely going to be the place that the election will be decided," said Horgan at the office of NDP candidate Rachna Singh.

At a speech during the festivities, Clark made sure to prop up her Liberal candidates in Surrey.

"Puneet [Sandhar] came here 14 years ago, she started her legal practice, she raised her family she's a proud Canadian and now she wants to join the legislature," said Clark, who talked about the need to bring more South Asian women into the political system.

Lower Mainland campaigning

On Friday, the B.C. Liberals took aim at Horgan for spending much of the official campaign period on the South Coast.

Aside from a visit to Victoria on Thursday, Horgan has spent nine straight days in ridings in the Lower Mainland.

In a release sent out on Friday, the B.C. Liberals said "John Horgan has yet to cross the 50th parallel in this campaign" and the NDP leader has "ignored the vast majority of British Columbia and concentrated on Metro Vancouver."

Horgan responded by saying he regularly visits communities outside the Lower Mainland and said Clark ignored them before the start of the election campaign.

​"If Christy Clark had been spending time in those communities before now, she wouldn't have to go," said Horgan.

"I've been crisscrossing the province for the past three years, talking to British Columbians about the issues that matter to them."