Christy Clark, right, with Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell and Courtyyard Café co-owner Peter Tryon, left, at a community engagement event during the election period. — Lauren Collins photo

Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell still reacting to Clark’s departure

B.C. Liberal Party to move forward with leadership race

Michelle Stilwell said she is still trying to absorb the fact that Christy Clark has resigned.

Stilwell, the lone Liberal MLA on the Island, says Clark’s departure from politics and public life came as a shock.

On Friday, July 28, Clark released a statement announcing she would be stepping down from the position, effective Aug. 4.

Clark, whose party won the election in May, lost a confidence vote in June to an NDP-Green partnership.

Stilwell told The NEWS she thinks Clark was “mulling (the decision) over in her mind from the night of the election,” adding that a lot has occurred over the last three months.

“I think it was probably something that she was thinking about, contemplating, and she came to the conclusion in Penticton that this was the right time — not just for her — but for the party moving forward,” Stilwell said.

While Stilwell said she respects Clark’s decision 100 per cent, she said she is deeply disappointed.

“She gave herself to the province for six years as premier, many years before that as MLA,” Stilwell said. “The job of premier is exhausting and you give your time, your energy, your soul to the betterment for all British Columbians. It’s sad to see her moving on, but we accomplished so much under her leadership.”

Under her leadership, Stilwell said, the B.C. Liberal Party acomplished so many amazing things, but what sticks out for Stilwell is the Single Parent Employment Initiative.

“I was so closely associated with it in my ministry,” she said.

“Being able to take thousands of single parents that are receiving income assistance and help them get the training and education they need to get into employment and to now have over 1,000 in employment, having lasting income assistance, is a huge success.”

But now it’s time to move forward especially with the leadership race, Stilwell said.

“The party needs to decide now what the process and the criteria will be for that leadership race, and we’ll see who puts their name forward,” she said.

Asked if she would put he name into the leadership race, Stilwell wasn’t sure.

“That’s something that I would have to put a lot of thought into and consideration. It’s a conversation you have to have with your family. I don’t know.”