04/21/2013 04:06 EDT | Updated 06/21/2013 05:12 EDT

Party leaders go politicking at Surrey Vaisakhi parade

In the middle of a provincial election campaign, the tens of thousands in attendance at Surrey's Vaisakhi parade also represented a huge pool of potential voters.

Leaders from the B.C. Liberal, Conservative, and NDP parties were on hand at the festival Saturday, which celebrates the creation of the Khalsa.

Liberal Leader Christy Clark called it an important day.

"It's a day where we celebrate our values as a society," she said. "Those Sikh values of compassion and unity and harmony — that's who we are as British Columbians,"

Conservative Leader John Cummins had a tent at the parade, and NDP Leader Adrian Dix followed the parade route procession for blocks with his party's bus.

"Its been a very exciting campaign. I think the response in communities to our message is really strong," Dix said.

In past years, some politicians avoided this parade because of controversial messages that were put in display on posters that honoured men whom Canada considers terrorists.

Parade organizers now say the political element is gone from the Vaisakhi celebrations.

Moninder Singh, speaking for the Dasmesh Darbar Temple, said all politics are now discouraged at the event.

"We're trying to keep the focus on the community. Our main stage, off the stage that we run, we don't allow politicians to actually take part on that stage."

Surrey's Mayor Dianne Watts says she's seen the celebration morph into a more community-focused event over the years

"The political end of it has gone to the sidelines, and its all about what Vaisakhi is. It's the celebration, the recognition of Khalsa."