As of this evening, Parksville Paralympian Michelle Stilwell will be the nominee for the BC Liberals in the Parksville-Qualicum constituency.
In a response to reports that Stilwell was the Liberal nominee, constituency association president Bruce Cownden confirmed the withdrawal of Patrick Chenier means Stilwell will be the only candidate for the nomination when the constituency association holds their nomination meeting Tuesday night. However, until that time, she is merely the sole candidate for that nomination.
Cownden noted the party’s constitution allows nominations from the floor. However, he said all such nominations must still be vetted by the party prior to the meeting and the deadline for starting that process has come and gone.
“There is no other candidate,” he said.
In an interview Monday, Stilwell said she’s delighted to take on the new challenge and said she is encouraged by the strong show of support she has received from the community.
“Isn’t it exciting?” she asked. “It has been quite amazing. Since word went out a week or so ago I keep running into people in the community and they are really excited that I’m willing to take on this new challenge. That makes it a lot more comfortable.”
She said her first task, once acclaimed, will be to organize a good team to back her and let people know who she is, outside of her athletic endeavors.
“People need to know there is so much more to me,” she said.
The Liberal nomination event begins with registration at 6 p.m. at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre, with the actual meeting commencing at 6:30 p.m.
Stilwell will be going up against former Qualicum Beach councillor Barry Avis of the NDP. Avis said he welcomed Stilwell to the race but stressed his focus is on policy, rather than personality.
“It really doesn’t matter who it is,” he said. “It’s about work ethic. If you are going to do this you have to be serious about it. I want to focus on the big picture and what has happened in this province. I don’t want to focus on whether this person wears green pants instead of brown. We don’t want to focus on personalities. We want to focus on the issues.”
The Greens have yet to nominate a candidate, although the B.C. Conservatives have set this coming Sunday — at 1 p.m. at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre — as the date for their nomination meeting.