Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell has been taking a lot of hits on our letters page of late. Many of these shots are related to her comments recorded in reporter Lissa Alexander's excellent series of articles about poverty in our region.
To be fair, Stilwell is a rookie MLA. She is being asked to comment on many things related to many different departments of the provincial government, a daunting task for a new representative. Her cold-sounding, stats-laden responses to the questions in the poverty stories have obviously come from head office, if you will, and who among us would not do the same — lean on those who can help — when you're a new person expected to provide opinions on a myriad of issues from health care to child care to mining?
One thing that cannot be said about Stilwell is she has changed priorities or focus from the time on the campaign trail to 10 months after her landslide victory in Parksville-Qualicum.
Granted, all of the Liberal candidates last year were beating the same economy-jobs-fiscal responsibility drum. We aren't sure there are many, however, who have stuck with the message to the degree of Stilwell.
Schools are closing in this constituency. Stilwell said she believes an improved economy and jobs may help fill them again.
As Alexander's series has shown us, there are a lot of people in our region who find it difficult to put a healthy meal on the table or pay the rent. They would like to see, as would their advocates, assistance levels rise and the government spend more to drastically reduce the costs of child care. Stilwell said she believes the government cannot afford that right now, did not run for office on that promise, and those things can only happen with an improved economy and more jobs.
What we have here is a politician who is sticking with what she said during the campaign. Most people would consider that acceptable. The cynics among us would call it noble or unprecedented.
While we applaud Stilwell for her ability to avoid the flip-flop, we have to say there's one very large problem with her stance, and that of her party's, in relation to what's on the ground in Parksville Qualicum Beach: where are the jobs and evidence of an improved economy?
— Editorial by John Harding