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Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard not seeking re-election

(Alberta government) (Alberta government)
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The United Conservative Party MLA representing the city of Grande Prairie announced she would not run for re-election in 2023.

In a letter to constituents posted to her Facebook page Saturday afternoon, Tracy Allard revealed she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in March 2020 and would not seek to retain her legislative seat to prioritize her health and family.

While she has learned to manage the disease over the past three years and is supported by a team of health care professionals, Allard said she needed to "step away from public life."

"Not surprisingly, the management of this disease is complex, but the foundation of successful symptom management includes healthy diet, regular exercise, consistent sleep, and minimal stress," she said.

"While that is a prescription likely to achieve healthier living for anyone, it certainly does not align well with the schedule, lifestyle and demands placed on an MLA."

Allard thanked her constituency staff, volunteers, and the people of Grande Prairie for supporting her over her term.

"It has been my absolute privilege to serve you," she said. "Many times I have been humbled by the gravity of the tasks before me and there has been no greater satisfaction for me as your MLA than solving an issue for a constituent."

'MY HEALTH HAD ITS OWN PLANS'

Allard was elected in April 2019 after having been a business owner for 25 years. She and her husband have three children.

In an interview with CTV News Edmonton, Allard said she spent the last year speaking with her doctor and family before deciding not to run for re-election.

"My intention was never to just do one term," she said. "Any MLA is probably more efficient in their second term. Unfortunately, my health had its own plans."

"I really had to think through, can I got to the doors and ask people to vote for me and be honest with them that I can give them four years of 100 per cent."

She recalled how finding balance was always a difficulty throughout her term.

"I was voted the hardest working MLA in the first year of the term. While that is a tremendous honour, it really is, I know it is a little bit of an indictment against me for my lack of boundaries. I would take on more and more," Allard said.

"This disease has taught me that I need to have some balance, and it has also weighed heavily at the back of my mind knowing I want to be a grandma someday, and when that day comes, I want to be an active grandma that goes to the park, and goes to the pool and is involved with my future grandkids."

Last December, Premier Danielle Smith appointed Allard as the province's parliamentary secretary for "civil liberties."  Allard said it was a challenging but needed position.

"We are still charting it and it's very nuanced," Allard said. "Civil liberties is a very big term and it talks about fundamental freedoms and it also comes with responsibility."

Allard also served on the legislative review committee and Treasury Board. She had previously served as the minister of municipal affairs but stepped down in January 2021 after her pandemic family vacation to Hawaii was uncovered, at a time when guidelines from the province and Ottawa advised against non-essential travel.

In August of that year, Allard asked the education minister to "slow down" K-6 curriculum development work and listen to feedback from teachers, school boards and constituents. 

The new regional hospital will serve northern Alberta and some parts of the Northwest Territories (Source: AHS).

When asked what she believed the biggest challenge facing her successor in Grande Prairie would be, she said it was healthcare.

The province opened a brand new hospital for the region last year, but Allard says it still faces staffing challenges.

"I hope that my successor is able to work collectively with the doctors and nurses that are here, and the other allied health-care professionals to find solutions," she said.

The Alberta general election is scheduled to be held in May 2023. 

Grande Prairie is approximately 456 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

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