Genia Leskiw has announced that after 7 years serving as The MLA for the Bonnyville-Cold Lake constituency she has retired from politics. Leskiw announced in late winter that she did not intend to run for re-election and said it was time for her to leave public life.
Leskiw says her role as MLA, and her passion for public service, stems from a passion for teaching. Leskiw said of her role as MLA “in a way it was a continuation of being a teacher, just in a different way”. Leskiw taught for 37 years before entering the world of politics, notably she ended her teaching career after a 15 year stint as a grade 8 teacher at HE Bourgoin Middle School in Bonnyville. Leskiw also taught at Duclos and Notre Dame Elementary Schools in Bonnyville and at Glendon School.
When asked what she cherished most about her career as MLA, Leskiw said it was “helping the little people, the ones you don’t see. The everyday folk that came into my office with their concerns and I was able to help them. I think that brought the biggest joy into my life”. Leskiw plans to continue helping people, but on a different level outside of politics.
Leskiw notes she plans on volunteering and she may help the party (The Progressive Conservatives) in various ways, but she will not re-enter politics, jokingly stating “free and 65 looked pretty good”. Leskiw does hope to be more involved with her church, The Ukrainian Orthodox church in Bonnyville, which she notes she was quite involved with prior to her life as MLA.
Leskiw also has hopes to work with seniors in the community, saying “I love working with our seniors, I want to get involved with them.” Leskiw says various community groups have asked her to participate in different workshops and speaking engagements which is also an option for her.
As Leskiw steps away from the public life another will come forward. Leskiw has been a supporter of Craig Copeland, who is running in the election under her political party, The PC’s ticket. When speaking of Copeland, who has served as the mayor of Cold Lake for 7 years and in city politics as a councillor for 15, Leskiw says, “I think he is the solution for our area, when times are tough I know he will fight for our area just like he fought for the city he was mayor in.” Leskiw notes that Copeland is “a seasoned politician, he’s not scared to work hard and I think he’ll do a great job representing every corner of our constituency”.
Beyond who Leskiw is backing going into the election the former MLA says it’s important for everyone to vote and have their voice heard. She notes that every vote does matter; citing the recent election to determine the PC representative for MLA Craig Copeland was won by just over 70 votes. Leskiw says the provincial election will affect the local area and her greatest hope and dream is “people really take an interest in the election” and that “every single voice counts”.