Back­bencher loses her bid as N.L.’s first fe­male Speaker

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC - BY SUE BAI­LEY

A Lib­eral back­bencher lost her bid Tues­day to be­come New­found­land and Labrador’s first fe­male Speaker af­ter chal­leng­ing her boss’s pre­ferred male can­di­date.

Pam Par­sons lost to Perry Trimper in a se­cret bal­lot in the leg­is­la­ture dom­i­nated by the ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ing Lib­er­als in St. John’s. An ac­tual vote count was not re­leased af­ter the rare sum­mer sit­ting to hold the elec­tion. Trimper was the man Pre­mier Dwight Ball had pub­licly tapped for the job.

Par­sons, a 37-year-old former jour­nal­ist in her first term in the House of Assem­bly, had said she wasn’t try­ing to sow in­ter­nal rifts by run­ning against the pre­mier’s choice.

Win or lose, Par­sons said it was im­por­tant to put her name for­ward.

“I be­lieve it’s my demo­cratic re­spon­si­bil­ity to of­fer my­self, to be the best I can be. We should al­ways look to im­prove and grow.”

Par­sons said she was urged by House of Assem­bly mem­bers of all po­lit­i­cal stripes to put her name for­ward as the num­ber of women in pol­i­tics con­tin­ues to lag.

Out­side the leg­is­la­ture, Ball said Lib­er­als were free to vote as they wished. He said he wel­comed Par­sons’s chal­lenge.

“This was democ­racy in ac­tion to­day. We had a young woman who had an in­ter­est in do­ing this. It’s no dif­fer­ent than the con­ver­sa­tion that I had with Miss Par­sons when she came to see me.

“I told her: ‘Go and do what you feel you should do. Fol­low your heart.”’

Trimper also com­mended her and said he looks for­ward to work­ing with all mem­bers and the pub­lic — and to help in­crease women’s roles in pol­i­tics.

“This is the peo­ple’s house, and I look for­ward to do­ing what I can to sup­port the peo­ple of our prov­ince.”

FILE PHOTO

Lib­eral MHA Pam Par­sons said she would be ex­cited to be the first woman Speaker of the House of Assem­bly.

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