Ex-MP Sukh Dhaliwal has been nominated as the Liberal candidate in Surrey-Newton.
The question is whether or not his past legal trouble with Revenue Canada is going to hurt his campaign in next year’s federal election.
As far as the party’s 2015 B.C. campaign spokesperson is concerned, there shouldn’t be any worries.
“I’m not that fussed,” Mike Witherly told the Straight in a phone interview.
Witherly explained: “Basically, Sukh’s problem was that he didn’t file the paper work he needed to for one of his companies. But…he wasn’t in a situation where he owed money. So there’s no issue of, like, not paying taxes or avoiding tax. He just didn’t do the paper work. It’s pretty mundane in terms of that issue.”
In the run-up to last year’s provincial election, Dhaliwal withdrew as the B.C. Liberal candidate in Surrey-Panorama after the party learned about his legal issue.
Dhaliwal and his wife were charged under the Income Tax Act in 2012. The two pleaded guilty and were fined in 2013.
On December 13 this year, Sukh won the federal Liberal nomination in Surrey-Newton, defeating lawyer Randeep Singh Sarai, who also has had his own troubles.
In 2005, the Law Society of B.C. found Sarai guilty of professional misconduct in connection with real-estate transactions at his law office. He was suspended for one year. He eventually sought reinstatement, which was granted in 2010.
Witherly was asked if the party couldn’t find anyone who doesn’t have a checkered past.
“In a certain sense, they’ve been some of the most popular candidates we’ve had in the party so far,” Witherly said about Dhaliwal and Sarai.
According to Witherly, this was demonstrated by the approximately 6,800 votes cast in the December 13 nomination.
“Clearly they have something to offer,” Witherly said.
Dhaliwal and Sarai signed up a combined 23,000 members for the nomination. With a membership fee of $10, that’s $230,000 going to the national party’s central pot.
Although not even half showed up for the nomination, Witherly said the turnout was significant, noting, “It’s probably the biggest nomination there’s been in the country so far of any party.”