After the glowing praise and last standing ovation for newly-minted B.C. Liberal candidate Michelle Stilwell was over Tuesday night, The NEWS posed some tough questions for the woman who wants to represent the people of Parksville-Qualicum in the B.C. Legislature.
The NEWS: You said you will soon be leaving the country for seven weeks to train in Australia for the world championships. Are you leaving the campaign for seven weeks?
Stilwell: Have you heard of technology? There is Skype and e-mail and phones and Twitter. I don’t train 10-12 hours a day. I will stay up to date on all the current issues.
The NEWS: Sounds like you have it figured out.
Stilwell: I always have a plan, I have to, that’s how I operate. 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. And it (the commitment to the worlds) came about before I knew (current MLA) Ron (Cantelon) was going to step down.
The NEWS: On the day you were presented with the key to the City of Parksville in September, you said your competitive drive was still there and participating in the Paralympics in Brazil in 2016 was a real possibility. Are you going to compete in Brazil in 2016?
Stilwell: I think Brazil is going to be amazing.
The NEWS: As a holiday destination or a competitive destination?
Stilwell: I think the Olympics and the Paralympics in Brazil are going to be amazing.
The NEWS: OK, I guess we can talk about that some other time.
The NEWS: Someone who wants to be an MLA, one would think he or she would have confidence in our education system. You home school your son Kai.
Stilwell: Why do I do that?
The NEWS: If you don’t mind me asking.
Stilwell: Not at all. Kai is autistic and the cookie-cutter school system doesn’t work for my son and his needs.
The NEWS: Can our school system do better for autistic children?
Stilwell: I think each parent has to take their own child into consideration and what works best for their family. It worked best for me as an athlete who travelled around the world representing Canada, for me to have Kai along. Last year I was in Australia for three months — I couldn’t be away from my son for three months.
The NEWS: So it’s not any kind of condemnation of our school system?
Stilwell: Not at all — we have amazing teachers here.
The NEWS: Lastly, is there one issue in this campaign specific to Parksville-Qualicum?
Stilwell: I can’t say there is one specific issue at this moment, but the economy and jobs are always key and seniors in this community need to be taken care of. Forty-seven per cent of our population is over 65. As someone who is 38, I have to plan for the future because one day I’m going to be that senior, make sure the proper things are in place.