MLA Michelle Stilwell is pictured above on the May 2013 night she won election as MLA for Parksville-Qualicum. With Stilwell is her husband Mark

EXCLUSIVE: Stilwell will seek second term

The Parksville-Qualicum MLA is the last of Premier Christy Clark's cabinet to announce her intentions for the May 2017 election

Michelle Stilwell will seek a second term as MLA for Parksville-Qualicum in the May, 2017 provincial election.

Stilwell is the last of Premier Christy Clark’s cabinet to announce her plans.

“I needed to ensure that if I was going to run I needed to give it my best,” Stilwell told The NEWS on Wednesday morning. “It wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly.”

When she won the constituency for the B.C. Liberals in 2013, it was Stilwell’s first experience running for public office. She was immediately named as caucus chair and parliamentary secretary and within 18 months had a cabinet position as minister of social development and social innovation, which includes responsibility for government programs related to people with disabilities (PWD).

Married with a teenage son, Stilwell, 42, also managed to train for and compete in the Rio Paralympics last month, where she won two gold medals in wheelchair racing. She has earned seven medals in the Paralympics, six of them gold.

“Michelle Stilwell is a champion in every sense of the word,” Clark said in a statement provided to The NEWS on Wednesday morning. “A Paralympian, a mom, a cabinet minister and a fighter for her

community. Around the cabinet table and in caucus, Michelle has been a tireless advocate for Parksville-Qualicum, always ensuring that the views and needs of her constituents are heard. I am so pleased that Michelle has decided to run again in 2017. Her community and our province will be a better place for it.”

Stilwell spoke about her decision-making process in the last couple of months.

“Since Rio, I’ve received a lot of positive encouragement,” said Stilwell. “As minister, I’m proud of the accomplishments we’ve made on behalf of people with disabilities. And we have the most comprehensive social safety net of all provinces.”

Along with that positive encouragement, Stilwell is also the target of harsh, sometimes personal, criticism from people with disabilities.

“There are always going to be people who want government to do more,” said Stilwell. “The personal attacks perhaps I wasn’t expecting, but apparently it comes with the territory.”

Fresh from the Union of BC. Municipalities annual conference where Parksville wasn’t one of the communities singled out to receive additional infrastructure funding, Parksville city Coun. Kirk Oates said Wednesday he would like to see more from Stilwell.

“I’d like to see a gold medal performance in Victoria like the gold medal performance in Rio,” said Oates.

Stilwell spoke publicly in recent days about the challenges of juggling life as a mother, wife, MLA, cabinet minister and world-class athlete. On Wednesday, she spoke about her discussions with her husband around this decision to run for office once again in May.

“Mark is 100 per cent supportive,” said Stilwell. “He’s probably the one who encouraged me the most. Mark is the most amazing husband I could ask for. He makes it possible for me to do the job that I’ve done.”

Stilwell listed a number of issues she said she has championed for both people throughout the province and in Parksville-Qualicum, including the single parent employment initiative, affordable housing like the Kingsley project in Parksville and the addition of palliative care beds at Trillium Lodge.

She also said she an announcement about an extreme weather shelter this winter for the homeless of  Parksville Qualicum Beach is “something that will come out in the next few weeks.”

Stilwell won the Parksville-Qualicum constituency with more than 50 per cent of the vote in May of 2013.

Just Posted

FOLLOW-UP: Shelley Downey speaks on her Conservative candidacy

“I anticipate requesting a leave of absence from Port McNeill council,” Downey said.

B.C. to move salmon farms out of coastal migration route

Broughton Archipelago plan set to start in spring of 2019

New wind warning for most of Vancouver Island

Forecasters are calling for strong winds up to 90km/h for some areas

Mount Washington opening for winter season this weekend

The resort’s original opening day was delayed due to lack of snow

Shoebox Project: Local women in need to enjoy shoebox gifts

This year over 500 gift filled Shoeboxes were delivered in Campbell River and the North Island.

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

GoFundMe helps Vancouver Island teen battle a rare cancer

Nanaimo’s Michelle Reilly, 16, battling spinal cord cancer, seeking possible treatment in U.S.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Rescued B.C. cat with misshapen legs in need of forever home – with carpet

Mirielle was born with misshapen back legs and after a tough life on the streets, is looking for a forever home.

VIDEO: Craft growers will add to recreational market, cannabis producer says

Two B.C. men say their expertise in running small legal medical grow-ops a benefit to recreational market

World Sikh Organization demands Canada prove Sikh extremism is a threat

Sikh community says this is first time such extremism has been mentioned in federal terror-threat assessment

Most Read