People with disabilities might take some comfort in the election tonight of Stephanie Cadieux as the new B.C. Liberal MLA in Surrey-Panorama Ridge.
Cadieux, director of marketing and development at the B.C. Paraplegic Association, gets around in a wheelchair after suffering a spinal-cord injury when she was 18.
She's the first wheelchair-bound MLA since Doug Mowat, who was a Social Credit MLA from 1983 to 1991 in Vancouver-Little Mountain.
Like Cadieux, Mowat also worked at the B.C. Paraplegic Association.
There are some important issues that Cadieux might want to look into after she's sworn into office.
People recovering from spinal-cord injuries at the G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre could benefit from having a useable X-ray machine on the premises, rather than having to travel to the hospital at UBC for these tests.
In addition, Cadieux could put pressure on the federal government to adopt a gentler approach on people with federal student loans who are suddenly disabled by a spinal-cord injury.
Then, there are the constant problems with transit. The Campbell government, like its NDP predecessor, is obsessed with building gold-plated rapid-transit projects that serve a relatively small percentage of the population.
These projects are expensive, and they cannibalize the bus system, which transports many more people across the region.
People in wheelchairs need buses--and lots of them. They also need buses with proper lifts.
During this election campaign, local mayors called upon the provincial government to use carbon-tax revenue to fund public transit. They warned that TransLink's financial problems would cause bus levels to be cut back to what we saw in the 1970s.
Cadieux is now inside the government caucus. She can push this issue and get more provincial money set aside for the purchase of buses. And if she makes any headway, people with disabilities across the region will owe her a debt of gratitude.