MLA Michelle Stilwell is pictured above on the May 2013 night she won election as MLA for Parksville-Qualicum. With Stilwell is her husband Mark

EXCLUSIVE: Stilwell will seek second term

The Parksville-Qualicum MLA is the last of Premier Christy Clark's cabinet to announce her intentions for the May 2017 election

Michelle Stilwell will seek a second term as MLA for Parksville-Qualicum in the May, 2017 provincial election.

Stilwell is the last of Premier Christy Clark’s cabinet to announce her plans.

“I needed to ensure that if I was going to run I needed to give it my best,” Stilwell told The NEWS on Wednesday morning. “It wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly.”

When she won the constituency for the B.C. Liberals in 2013, it was Stilwell’s first experience running for public office. She was immediately named as caucus chair and parliamentary secretary and within 18 months had a cabinet position as minister of social development and social innovation, which includes responsibility for government programs related to people with disabilities (PWD).

Married with a teenage son, Stilwell, 42, also managed to train for and compete in the Rio Paralympics last month, where she won two gold medals in wheelchair racing. She has earned seven medals in the Paralympics, six of them gold.

“Michelle Stilwell is a champion in every sense of the word,” Clark said in a statement provided to The NEWS on Wednesday morning. “A Paralympian, a mom, a cabinet minister and a fighter for her

community. Around the cabinet table and in caucus, Michelle has been a tireless advocate for Parksville-Qualicum, always ensuring that the views and needs of her constituents are heard. I am so pleased that Michelle has decided to run again in 2017. Her community and our province will be a better place for it.”

Stilwell spoke about her decision-making process in the last couple of months.

“Since Rio, I’ve received a lot of positive encouragement,” said Stilwell. “As minister, I’m proud of the accomplishments we’ve made on behalf of people with disabilities. And we have the most comprehensive social safety net of all provinces.”

Along with that positive encouragement, Stilwell is also the target of harsh, sometimes personal, criticism from people with disabilities.

“There are always going to be people who want government to do more,” said Stilwell. “The personal attacks perhaps I wasn’t expecting, but apparently it comes with the territory.”

Fresh from the Union of BC. Municipalities annual conference where Parksville wasn’t one of the communities singled out to receive additional infrastructure funding, Parksville city Coun. Kirk Oates said Wednesday he would like to see more from Stilwell.

“I’d like to see a gold medal performance in Victoria like the gold medal performance in Rio,” said Oates.

Stilwell spoke publicly in recent days about the challenges of juggling life as a mother, wife, MLA, cabinet minister and world-class athlete. On Wednesday, she spoke about her discussions with her husband around this decision to run for office once again in May.

“Mark is 100 per cent supportive,” said Stilwell. “He’s probably the one who encouraged me the most. Mark is the most amazing husband I could ask for. He makes it possible for me to do the job that I’ve done.”

Stilwell listed a number of issues she said she has championed for both people throughout the province and in Parksville-Qualicum, including the single parent employment initiative, affordable housing like the Kingsley project in Parksville and the addition of palliative care beds at Trillium Lodge.

She also said she an announcement about an extreme weather shelter this winter for the homeless of  Parksville Qualicum Beach is “something that will come out in the next few weeks.”

Stilwell won the Parksville-Qualicum constituency with more than 50 per cent of the vote in May of 2013.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Big Beach parties spark concern in Ucluelet

“You find needles, left over party debris, bottles and still burning fires.”

Ucluelet’s Terrace Beach Resort is for sale

The commercial offering of 21 suites and cabins was recently listed for $4,495,000

Young tourist caught untying boats from Ucluelet dock

“He was just untying the boats and watching them float away,” said Harbour Master Kevin Cortes.

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

Most Read