Parksville-Qualicum Liberal candidate Michelle Stilwell is used to being in races, and winning them.
A Paralympic champion in track and basketball events in 2000, 2008 and most recently at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London – she is the only female Paralympic athlete to win gold in two separate summer events and holds several world records – the 38-year-old wife and mother is now working to win a different kind of race.
“Being an athlete was about my country, about representing the people that live in this country. I love this country and to stand on the world stage and represent Canada and wear the red-and-white was something that was very special to me,” she said. “What my athletic career has taught me is dedication, determination, commitment, and those are key qualities that an MLA needs to have.”
Life experience has also given Stilwell an inside look at many of the issues B.C. residents are dealing with. She has gone through the health-care system – Stilwell broke her neck after falling down stairs when she was 17, leaving her a paraplegic – has a child with special needs, and is a business owner.
“There is a wealth of personal experience that has opened my eyes into some of the issues that the people in this riding and throughout B.C. are going through,” she said.
But this isn’t her first foray into politics. Stilwell has been involved in both federal and provincial campaigns behind the scenes, and has sat on several boards, committees and panels, all with the ability to advocate for the people concerned about the issues she was addressing.
Key issues she has heard from voters going door-to-door over the past few weeks are the need to control spending while at the same time providing adequate health-care services. In June, the Oceanside Health Care Centre is scheduled to open, one of several health facilities in which the Liberal government has invested more than $8 billion to ensure B.C. residents’ health needs are met. The Liberals have also promised an additional $2.3 billion in health care spending.