Surrey-Newton Liberal candidate Sukh Dhaliwal (right, wearing red mask) poses for a supporter’s “selfie” photograph during an election-night event Monday (Sept. 20) at The Grand Taj Banquet Hall in Surrey. (photo from video: Tom Zillich)

Surrey-Newton Liberal candidate Sukh Dhaliwal (right, wearing red mask) poses for a supporter’s “selfie” photograph during an election-night event Monday (Sept. 20) at The Grand Taj Banquet Hall in Surrey. (photo from video: Tom Zillich)

FEDERAL ELECTION 2021

VIDEO: Surrey MP-elect’s post-vote party draws criticism for lack of masks, dancing

‘I can tell you that we made sure that we commanded people to wear masks and to tell them not to move around,’ Sukh Dhaliwal says

At Sukh Dhaliwal’s post-vote party in Surrey Monday night (Sept. 20), signs on banquet-hall tables urged supporters to remain seated throughout the evening, and that “masks are mandatory while standing inside.”

By the time the Liberal incumbent was declared winner in the Surrey-Newton riding, however, those pandemic protocols were ignored by many in the crowd of a few hundred excited people, who danced, celebrated and took selfies with the MP-elect.

Video shows the party happening inside Newton’s Grand Taj hall on the night of Monday’s federal election.

B.C.’s current COVID-triggered gathering restrictions prohibit dancing during inside events, and that “participants stay in the seat to which they are assigned, and do not move from seat to seat,” among other rules.

On social media, some observers questioned Dhaliwal’s election-night gathering.

“Maskless indoors. Rules for thee, not for me,” tweeted @JakeZTank.

“You think Surrey was a covid transmission leader by accident? Hellll no!!” added @UncleLaleet.

• RELATED STORY: Dancing, celebration and selfies at Liberal Sukh Dhaliwal’s post-vote party.

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Dhaliwal wore a Liberal-red mask while greeting supporters, and only removed the face covering to speak at the podium in a voice made hoarse during the election campaign.

Reached Tuesday (Sept. 21), Dhaliwal said event organizers did their best to control the crowd.

“There were many security guards who made sure the numbers were OK and that nobody was allowed in the hall beyond the limit of the hall, and the vaccination was also verified to make sure people had that,” Dhaliwal told the Now-Leader.

“People were seated and we tried to tell people, and there’s only so much control you can do. As you know, a lot of people wanted to come to support, so we had a tent outside with a TV there, and not everyone could get inside.

“I can tell you that we made sure that we commanded people to wear masks and to tell them not to move around.

“Events like this,” he added, “they always go out of control when there is a lot of excitement. We did our best with the security.”

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The projected election win gives Dhaliwal a third consecutive term in Surrey-Newton. A professional engineer by trade, he served as Liberal MP of its predecessor, the riding of Newton-North Delta, from 2006 to 2011.

As of Tuesday morning, 164 of 165 polls report Dhaliwal in the lead with 18,488 votes, or 54 per cent. His closest challenger was the NDP’s Johal with 8,917 votes, followed by Conservative Mohsin (5,369), PPC’s Singh (927) and Hundal (600).

Voter turnout in the riding is 52 per cent, or 34,301 of the 65,857 registered electors, a number that doesn’t include those who registered on election day.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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