Michelle Stilwell says becoming an MLA is not about experience.
In an e-mail exchange from Australia, the Paralympic champion and B.C. Liberal candidate for the Parksville Qualicum constituency answered questions from The NEWS about criticism she has received in letters to the editor pages and other forums regarding her lack of political experience.
"Some may say I lack experience, but becoming MLA is not about experience — it is having the ability to understand, work with people who agree and disagree, all for the betterment of our community," Stilwell wrote. "I have the skills and experience required to be a strong representative for our community."
Stilwell was also asked if she feels she is falling behind on the campaign trail as she competes and trains in Australia in a trip that started just after she was acclaimed as candidate Jan. 8 and ends with her return in the first week of March. She has missed some community events some might believe a candidate should attend, like the Qualicum Beach community awards or the Glassies, which are March 1 and an event where she is nominated for Citizen of the Year (she said she was not informed of the nomination until Feb. 13).
“I don’t believe it is appropriate for me to use events like the Glassies or QB awards as a means of campaigning,” Stilwell wrote. “Those events are to honour nominees. If elected MLA — that is a different story. If elected, I look forward to attending as many important community events as possible as MLA.”
Stilwell also missed Premier Christy Clark’s pre-election kick-off event this past weekend, a gathering that included information and sessions aimed to help candidates who may be new to political campaigns.
“I have been working hard to learn as much as possible from my fellow candidates at every possible opportunity,” Stilwell wrote. “There are plans for another session as there are still ridings that have not announced candidates and they too will require the same training and information.”
The provincial election is May 14. Aside from Stilwell, the only candidates to officially have their hats in the ring in this riding are the NDP’s Barry Avis and David Coupland of the B.C. Conservatives.