Nanaimo's member of the legislative assembly says she's looking forward to saying goodbye to 2020 tonight. Sheila Malcolmson is planning a quiet new year's eve with her long-time partner, Howard, at their Gabriola Island home. She says the past year has been a very different type of whirlwind, both personally and politically.
Malcolmson has spent most of the past twenty years in politics. Her first foray was in 2002 as an elected member of the Islands' Trust, representing the interests of people who live on the small Gulf Islands that hug BC's southwest coast. During her 13 year-long tenure, she pushed for improved relations with local first nations that culminated in the signing of an agreement between the Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Islands Trust. It was one of the first agreements in BC, to establish formal, government-to-government protocols for planning, land use management and heritage conservation. In 2015, she was elected as the member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, where she focused her attention on environmental issues. Malcolmson gave up her federal seat in 2019, to run in a crucial provincial by-election. Her win tipped the balance of power that allowed the NDP to form government in British Columbia. Malcolmson was re-elected last fall and was rewarded with a cabinet position. She says becoming BC's Minister of Mental Health and Addictions has been a steep learning curve. The Minister says she welcomes the challenge of the high-profile portfolio and her days are busy. When it comes to her personal life, Malcolmson says she blows off steam by getting back to nature. Her favorite activity is kayaking. Malcolmson says she is grateful that COVID-19 has not taken the life of any family or loved ones. She says the pandemic has made her realize how important human contact is to her.
Malcolmson says the human touch is something she will never take for granted again.