Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard will be hosting an event for youth in the region to learn about the policial process.

Allard says while she has aimed to be as bi-partisan as possible in her time in the legislature, some of the discussions she has read online has a very ‘us vs them’ mentality, which she believes may set a bad example for the next generation.

“I’d love to develop in the next generation capacity for critical thinking, and part of that is a lot of the constituents I work with, and politics, in general, is quite polarized right now, but to be able to listen for understanding rather than listening to be right,” Allard says.

She says the meeting, which is aimed at grade 9-12 students, will be an exercise for those who like to discuss issue-based topics but are armed with the desire to hold a healthy debate. Allard says her own recent past has only highlighted the need for bi-partisan and critical thinking.

“If I’ve learned anything this last year is I need to earn the right to be heard if I go out as a newly elected representitive and start telling people things it never works. I need to listen and give people my ear before I have anything to say, and I think that’s serving me well.”

Allard says two of the pillars of freedom and democracy are debate and substantive discussion and hopes people of all ages remember that debate on ideas is a healthy way of expression.

“I think freedom is something we all hold dear but we sometimes forget what it means; it means I’m going to fight for the freedom who oppose me to hold those views as well, and I think that’s very important in a democratic and accountable society.”

The meeting will take place from 2-3 p.m. on February 23rd at the Grande Prairie Public Library.