In our ongoing efforts to encourage you to mom the vote, we’ve recently connected with two moms and first-time candidates for MLA, to hear more about what’s inspiring them to get involved. Up first, we’re sharing our conversation with Michelle Stilwell, who’s running for the BC Liberals in Parksville-Qualicum. She is a passionate community advocate for people with disabilities and children with special needs. She is also the only Canadian female athlete to be a Paralympic champion in two separate summer sports – basketball and athletics. She’s also a home school mother to her son Kai.
You may assume that, given her background as a three-time Paralympic champion, Michelle hasn’t had much time for politics and advocacy. However, when we asked her what people are surprised to learn about her, she replied, “Lately, it has been a surprise to many people that the first campaign I volunteered on was when I was 15 years old.” Clearly, her history as a change-maker precedes her personal entry into politics.
A Fork in the Road
Still, a history of advocacy and running for office are two different things. When we asked Michelle what inspired her to mom the vote as an MLA candidate she said, “Concern for the future. I believe we are at a fork in the road. One where we have two choices – stick on the charted path of economic growth and prosperity or veer off in a direction that would take us to higher taxes, bigger government and greater debt for future generations. We need to have a plan, a vision, for how we are going to get there. This fork in the road was much like I was faced with when I had my injury over 20 years ago. A choice between taking the negative path or positive path – the path of opportunities and possibilities for what can be done.”
Clearly, Michelle feels that the Liberals are best suited to guide the province into the future. We asked her why, and she said, “The Liberal party is trying to make the future stronger for our families, focusing on the economy, creating jobs and controlling spending while keeping taxes low. We want to create more jobs, make life more affordable for families, and at the same time, be fiscally responsible. There needs to be a clear understanding that government does not create revenue – business does. Generating the revenue through a strong economy is how we are able to provide the programs and services that we all rely on.”
Mom the Vote for Families
Michelle is a mother herself. As we set out to mom the vote, we asked her how the BC Liberals meet the needs of families. She shared, “A great deal of information can be found at www.bcliberals.com. Some of the highlights that come to mind are in reference to education, childcare and tax credits.” For example, she points to the one-time BC Training and Education Savings Grant in which children turning six receive $1200 in their RESPs. She also referenced the Liberal plan to make the new British Columbia Early Childhood Tax Benefit available to parents with children under six years of age, effective April 1, 2015. As well, the party plans to introduce a back-to-school tax credit for parents of children in grades K-12 of up to $250 per child. They also plan to immediately begin discussions with the BC Public School Employers’ Association and the BC Teachers’ Federation to achieve a 10-year collective agreement.
We’d like to thank Michelle Stilwell for taking the time to speak with us. At VancouverMom.ca, we don’t have any party affiliations, and we’re not endorsing any candidates. But we would like to honour everyone who is taking the step of seeking public office, regardless of their political views. Michelle is an example of someone who isn’t just setting out to mom the vote, but is taking things one step further.
Photo credit: Concept Photography, Nanaimo