ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – 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.”Parsons said in an earlier interview that she met with Ball on Thursday at her request.“He encouraged me to make up my own mind.”Provincial members of the Young Liberals of Canada at Memorial University of Newfoundland had also supported Parsons.“We believe that she has the necessary skills to act as an effective non-partisan agent of the House, we believe that it is important that we elevate women to positions of power in our democratic institutions,” said a Facebook post Sunday signed by the branch.Asked if her move to challenge Trimper hints at dissent within Liberal ranks, Parsons said: “Absolutely not.”“I don’t look at this as, you know, going against the premier or going against my colleague Perry Trimper.”Parsons described Trimper as “brilliant” and said he’s a friend.There are 40 members of the House of Assembly, of which one-quarter are women. Two Liberals and two Progressive Conservatives were absent for the vote.Just Trimper and Parsons were candidates, and the winner’s name was the only result revealed.Current standings in the House of Assembly are 30 Liberals, seven Progressive Conservatives, two New Democrats, and one Independent.Follow @suebailey on Twitter.
Backbencher loses bid to be Newfoundland and Labradors first female Speaker