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Stilwell candidacy official

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Mary Polak, centre, and Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux, right, were on hand Tuesday night at the B.C. Liberals Parksville-Qualicum constituency association meeting where Michelle Stilwell, left, was acclaimed as candidate. - John Harding photo
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Mary Polak, centre, and Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux, right, were on hand Tuesday night at the B.C. Liberals Parksville-Qualicum constituency association meeting where Michelle Stilwell, left, was acclaimed as candidate.
— image credit: John Harding photo

Two cabinet ministers, an MLA and a town councillor heaped praise on their star candidate Tuesday night as Michelle Stilwell officially became a B.C. Liberal Party standard bearer for the May 14 provincial election.

The Paralympic multi-gold medalist and world champion was unopposed as she accepted the nomination from the Parksville-Qualicum constituency association. There were about 90 people at the meeting at the Parksville Civic Centre while a heavy rain that was snow elsewhere in the riding reportedly kept many members off the roads and away from the meeting.

"The economy will continue to grow and prosper with free enterprise and the B.C. Liberals leading the way," said Stilwell, 38, who seeks to hold a riding currently represented by fellow B.C. Liberal Ron Cantelon, who announced late last year he would not seek a third term in the B.C. Legislature. "This is a winnable seat and we can do it."

The motion to nominate Stilwell was made by Town of Qualicum Beach councillor Mary Brouilette and seconded by Cantelon. On hand to formerly introduce Stilwell was Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux. Later, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Mary Polak implored the crowd to get involved in the campaign.

Like Stilwell, Cadieux, the MLA for Surrey-Panarama, is a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair.

"I don't think she (Stilwell) is spectacular in any way and I don't think she's special in any way," Cadiuex said, drawing laughter from the crowd. "I do, however, think she is an exceptional human being."

"It (running for office) takes someone with quite a spine and Michelle has that."

Brouilette called Stilwell "someone you really want to know."

She said much of the public may know about Stilwell's athletic achievements, but they may not know she is a wife, mother, community leader and business owner.

"There are many more facets to this amazing woman," said Brouilette.

Cantelon, who described himself as a "recovering politician," said Stilwell is "exactly the kind of someone who can listen to people, grab that understanding and take it to the legislature."

Cantelon could also be credited with the most partisan comment of the night:

"We're going to thrash whatever pathetic opposition there is."

Upon accepting the nomination, Stilwell told the crowd she would be leaving the country for seven weeks to train and compete in the world championships in Australia, a commitment she said she made before Cantelon made his announcement and before she knew she would seek the seat.

"I think it says a lot about my character that I'm going to stick to that commitment (to compete at the worlds) and be true to my word," Stilwell told The NEWS in an interview after the meeting.

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