EDITORIAL: Offside criticism

The attacks on MLA Michelle Stilwell related to her athletic career are ridiculous and politically motivated

There are enough real issues to use as bases for criticism against Parksville-Qualicum MLA and cabinet minister Michelle Stilwell. Mean-spirited, nasty attacks related to her athletic career should be ruled offside.

Don’t like what her ministry did in relation to the monthly payments for people with disabilities (PWDF)? Fair enough. There are many ways to slice that issue, including some that are fair comment.

The amount of money provided by the B.C. government for PWD is lower than most provinces. The recent increase was clouded by a change in the way bus passes are subsidized, reducing the actual increase for some to a nominal amount.

We believe the way those changes were rolled out by Stilwell and the government, the communication process, created much of the backlash. It was handled poorly, to say the least. How does this all relate to Stilwell’s athletic achievements and pursuits? It does not.

Long before she even thought about being a politician, Stilwell was a world-class wheelchair athlete, a world record holder and multiple Paralympics champion. We do not believe she should have been expected to stop all that because she got a new job.

People train for marathons and other athletic pursuits every day. You can see them swimming and running in our area. We bet some of them are surgeons, lawyers, paramedics and social workers. If a surgeon wants to train before and after work and on his/her days off, and take holiday time to compete, should he/she stop being a surgeon? That’s ridiculous. There are children in grave danger at

6 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day. Should the social worker, running at those times in training for a triathlon he/she will do on holiday time, be attacked for being derelict in his/her duties? Absolutely not.

Everyone who has a full-time job, especially a government job, gets paid time off. What they do with that time is hardly anyone else’s concern.

We believe the attacks against Stilwell, the ones that hammer her for using her own time to be a world-class athlete, are purely political. If she was not a member of the B.C. Liberal Party, she would not be facing these rude accusations and demands. There are groups of people, very active online, who would say black to everything a B.C. Liberal calls white.

We get that, especially on the Island, but it seems to cross a line when people take a nasty route instead of celebrating, and supporting, the achievements of one of B.C.’s best-ever athletes.

— Editorial by John Harding