Michelle Stilwell is always up for a race, but she says this one shouldn’t be happening.
The B.C. Liberals incumbent is up for re-election as Parksville-Qualicum MLA, though she says B.C. did not need an early election.
“This is a desperate attempt from John Horgan to cling to power…” Stilwell said. “It’s certainly not something that people need right now. They need to be focused on recovery and safety during the pandemic.”
She suggested the premier’s decision to end the confidence and supply agreement with the B.C. Greens shows he can’t be trusted. She noted that the government’s recently announced $1.5-billion pandemic recovery plan has been shown to have been “a campaign springboard” when the government could have started with some of that recovery spending months earlier.
“One thing that the B.C. Liberals have that’s our strong point is coming up with a plan and following through on a plan. What the NDP have done for the past several months, as it’s turned out, is plan an election instead of planning for the future of British Columbians,” Stilwell said. “I believe we can restore that confidence.”
She said her party will be trying to communicate that, as well as trying to get across its vision of how a rebuild would look under a B.C. Liberal government.
With no other candidates announced so far in Parksville-Qualicum, Stilwell, a Paralympic gold medallist, said her competitive experience tells her to focus on what she can control, which is getting out there and engaging with voters.
She expects debates and other campaign events will look different during a pandemic. Stilwell’s campaign team will use a 24-seat bus as a mobile campaign office where she can set up meet-and-greets with appropriate health and safety protocols.
Stilwell expressed confidence that Elections B.C. will do the best it can to hold an election safely, but she has already identified voting issues that could pose problems.
“With an aging demographic, I have big concerns about the ability for my senior population to call in to Elections B.C., request their ballot, have it mailed to them, fill it out accordingly, correctly so they don’t spoil it,” she said. “It’s just far more complicated.”
Stilwell has served as MLA since 2013 and was formerly B.C.’s minister for social development and social innovation.
The B.C. NDP and B.C. Greens have not yet announced a candidate in Parksville-Qualicum.
In the Nanaimo riding, the NDP’s Sheila Malcolmson is the only confirmed candidate.
Candidates in the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding include Doug Routley, NDP incumbent and Duck Paterson of the B.C. Liberals. The B.C. Greens are set to announce Chris Istace as the candidate in that riding on Sunday, Sept. 27.
The provincial election is Oct. 24.