Alberta’s lone NDP member of Parliament is calling it quits.
Linda Duncan, the three-term representative for Edmonton Strathcona, announced Tuesday she will not run in next year’s general election but will stay in the job until the writ is dropped.
“This is not my retirement day,” Duncan said. “I still have a full year (of work) that I fully intend to put in.”
Duncan said it has been rewarding fighting for constituents and on behalf of her caucus on issues ranging from the environment and agriculture to rail safety and recently imposed U.S. steel tariffs.
But she said the pace and commute between Alberta and Ottawa has taken its toll after 11 years and, at 69, it’s time to focus more on family and travel while still speaking out on important issues.
“Over the next year, I’ll decide what to do but certainly my big priority is (to) get a dog ... and I just want to spend way more time with my family,” she said.
“I spent a lot of my life away working, and my brother and my niece are my No. 1 priority.”
Duncan was first elected in 2008 and has worked in a variety of critic portfolios, currently in international development and environment.
She narrowly defeated Conservative incumbent Rahim Jaffer in the 2008 election, but was re-elected by healthy margins in 2011 and 2015.
Along with politics, her life has been dedicated to the law and the environment.
She founded the Environmental Law Centre in Edmonton in the early 1980s and has worked as an international environmental law consultant, helping Indonesia, Bangladesh and Jamaica set up rules for environmental enforcement.
She also worked as assistant deputy minister with the Yukon government.
Recently, she has been walking a fine line politically while Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley and federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh publicly spar over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Notley has been vociferously advocating for the line to get more oil to the B.C. coast and boost Alberta’s bottom line. Singh is opposed to the project.
Duncan has declined to wade into the spat, but did say the pipeline is not top of mind for her constituents.
Singh thanked Duncan for her work.
“Linda’s passion and knowledge as a defender of the environment and Indigenous rights will continue to inspire me, and all New Democrats,” Singh wrote on Twitter.
Duncan said being at the heart of the political process has been fulfilling, but also occasionally frustrating compared to being an independent advocate.
“Before I was elected, I could phone up any government office and ask questions,” she said. “Now I can’t do that. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives, they insist that you go through the minister’s office and have someone political on the call.
“That has been my greatest frustration because it puts a blockage with me actually helping my constituents.”
Duncan is one of a number of recent federal NDP caucus members who say they are moving on.
On Monday, Irene Mathyssen, NDP MP for London Fanshawe, announced she will not seek a fifth term. Last month, longtime NDP Hamilton Centre MP David Christopherson announced he will not seek re-election.
Other departures include former leader Tom Mulcair and B.C. MP Kennedy Stewart, who is running to be mayor of Vancouver.
Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir was expelled from caucus earlier this year after an investigation found evidence to support harassment complaints.