Campaigning during a pandemic is challenging because of lack of face-to-face interaction, but also provides some innovation, according to BC Liberal candidate Michelle Stilwell. The incumbent is touring the Parksville-Qualicum riding in her first ever campaign bus.
“We are going around from community to community, which actually in hindsight, is something I think we should be doing in future campaigns as well because we have such a long riding,” said Stilwell.
“Usually I would only have a campaign office in the centre of the riding — in Parksville and that means people all the way from Dashwood or from Nanaimo would have to come to the campaign office.”
Stilwell wants to see changes in how the government supports a tourism sector hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she has heard a lot from small businesses and tourism operators who are unhappy with the government’s response.
“What they’ve been really calling for was some support in both taxes and liquidity,” she said. “We just announced as part of our platform that we will deliver emergency financing for those businesses that are hardest hit through a loan guarantee program.”
The BC Liberals committed to eliminating the two per cent tax on small businesses earlier this week.
Stilwell criticized the NDP’s response to a lack of housing availability and affordability. She said the Liberals would eliminate the speculation tax put in place by the NDP, which she said was ineffective at lowering housing costs. The Speculation and Vacancy tax places a two per cent tax on the property’s value while it remains empty. The policy brought in $115 million in revenue, according to the B.C. government.
“We need to focus on condo flipping, so when these homes are being still in the purchasing stage, the building stage, that they are prevented from doing the house-flipping before the condo is even built,” she said.
Stilwell was first elected MLA for Parksville-Qualicum in 2013 and again in 2017. She served as the official opposition critic for tourism, arts and culture before the election was called and the legislature dissolved.
Stilwell won six gold medals in basketball and track at the Paralympics and was gifted the first key to the City of Parksville before entering politics, according to her biography on the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia website.