If asked, the member for Habour Grace-Port de Grave and former journalist could probably play you a song about being the House of Assembly's deputy speaker
Habour Grace-Port de Grave MHA Pam Parsons is perhaps the most prolific musician sitting in the House of Assembly.
She recently told The Telegram of her love of music, rarely passing a day without finding time to sit at her piano or strum her guitar.
When she moved to Halifax in 1999 to study at Mount St. Vincent University, she found herself in front of a microphone for the first time without an instrument. She was a tour guide on the famous Harbour Hopper, guiding tourists through the streets and over the waves in Halifax harbour.
“That’s when I decided I wanted to go into broadcasting,” said Parsons.
After finishing her studies, she jumped into the world of journalism, microphone in hand once again.
Today, you can hear her voice in the House of Assembly, but she’s swapped the singing for advocating for her district. The ongoing replacement of Coley’s Point Primary in Bay Roberts is one of the prides of her life in politics to date.
In September, Parsons became just the third woman in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador to be named deputy speaker of the House of Assembly. It can be a tall order to maintain order in the House of Assembly, but the role is one Parsons has wanted since becoming an MHA.
“You’ve got to be on the ball. It’s a great honour, a new task, a new responsibility,” said Parsons.
While Parsons remains the Liberal MHA for her district, the deputy speaker’s role takes her one degree outside of the partisan realm, as the role is a non-partisan appointment.
“I’m still in both worlds, but it’s a positive all around. I want to put my spin on this role, my own flavour,” she said.
1. What is your full name?
Pamela Nora Parsons.
2. Where and when were your born?
I was born at the Grace Hospital in St. John’s in 1980, but I was raised in Spaniard’s Bay.
3. Where do you live today?
4. What is your favourite place in the world?
It’s hard to nail down just one. I have lots of favourite places. I love cabin country, Brigus Junction, in particular. I love Nova Scotia. I did my post-secondary there, and I really enjoy the Annapolis Valley. I love to go to Jamaica and get some sun.
5. Who do you follow on social media?
I follow a lot of people, a lot of news people, political figures, some celebrities I admire. Some constituents. So a wide number of people. People with credibility, in particular.
6. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I’m an athlete and a musician. I play multiple instruments – guitar, drums, violin, bass, piano, and I sing. I love sports. I play hockey and softball and I really like to swim.
7. What has been your favourite year and why?
Well, definitely not 2020… 2020 has been a strange, ongoing year. I really enjoyed 1999. I graduated high school in 1998 and I went to university in Halifax. It was a big step for me, first time leaving the nest. I attended Mount St. Vincent University. Political science was my major and then I did the radio and television arts program at King’s College.
8. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
I’m grateful there hasn’t been a lot of hard times and I hope it stays that way. I had a surgery when I was 15, had my gall bladder removed. I was off my feet for a week. As a 15-year-old, you're young you can bounce back, but I remember I was at the old Janeway down by Pleasantville for a week. That was nerve-wracking, but it worked out.
9. Can you describe one experience that has changed your life?
I was a journalist prior to getting involved in politics. It’s a big decision to make to leave a journalism career and go into politics. It’s not something you can return to. Politics has changed my life. I have 15,000 constituents, a number of them call me daily looking for help, sometimes (involving) life-altering situations they find themselves in. If I won the lotto tomorrow, I’d still be an MHA. My favourite part of this work is being able to help people, give back to the community, get things done.
10. What is your greatest indulgence?
My cocker spaniel, Brandon. He’ll be 13 in November. I fall in love with that dog more and more every day. I get as many cuddles and kisses from him as I can. He was born in New Brunswick, but I brought him here. One of the best decisions I ever made. Since I changed from journalism to politics, I noticed his demeanour as changed a bit. He’s more demanding.
11. What is your favourite movie or book?
My favourite book and movie is "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. I watch that multiple, multiple times throughout the Christmas season. I don’t get sick of it. I have multiple versions of it, Alistair Simm was one of the originals. I love the version with George C. Scott – even "Mickey’s Christmas Carol."
12. How do you like to relax?
Music. There’s not many days that don’t go by where I don’t sit at a piano or strum the guitar. It’s great therapy for me. I’m able to use it with charitable events and play music. During Snowmaggeddon and the pandemic there’s been a lot of Facebook Lives with people singing, and I jumped on board and did some myself. I just love it.
13. What are you reading or watching right now?
I do indulge in some reality TV. I’m watching Big Brother right now, Big Brother All Stars. It’s a guilty pleasure. A book I’m reading is called "Harnessing Help from Heaven." It’s kind of a big bible of all the angels, all the archangels. I just find it intriguing.
14. What is your greatest fear?
I don’t like heights. I like amusement parks, I’ll get on the rides. But I get that anxiety. I’ll never forget the Behemoth ride in Canada’s Wonderland, just climbing and climbing and climbing. I’ll never do that one again. I also have a fear about what if you’re faced with a bear? What would you do? I did live in Ontario for a while, where I produced my own show for Rogers TV. They have different wildlife up there like cougars. There’s nights where I’d be at the station late at night by myself closing up, so I used to do a scan around my car in the parking lot. You never know.
15. How would you describe your personal fashion?
I like wearing sporty clothes. With my career, you need to dress professionally, but in my downtime, relaxing time I like to wear sporty clothes. It’s for the occasions. I do play a lot of sports, so it depends on the occasion.
16. What is your most treasured possession?
I would say my instruments, my musical instruments. They give back to my life so much. My first guitar, I was in Grade 5. I was nine. It was a smaller guitar, but a real guitar. My parents still have it. In the fretboards, the paint is worn off in the positions of the basic chords, A, G and D. When I was supposed to be doing my homework in my bedroom at night, I’d be there playing my guitar.
17. What physical or personality trait are you most grateful to a parent for?
Integrity. Truth. My parents, they’ve always been people I didn’t hear gossip much. They were always truthful. They instilled in my sister and I how important it is to be honest. Maybe that gets you in trouble sometimes, but I still think my honesty, for sure.
18. What three people would you invite to your dream dinner party?
My two grandmothers have passed, so them for sure. The third person? I don’t know. This is kind of crazy, but maybe the Virgin Mary? Is that weird? Or perhaps an ancestor who could tell me about where we originally came from. On my dad’s side there’s English descent. My mother’s is very Irish.
19. What would you describe as your best and worst quality?
My best quality? I’m outgoing. I’m a people person. I love to communicate with people. I was raised Catholic. That Catholic guilt? It’s real. I’ve got that Charlie Brown syndrome, sometimes, you know? It’s Christmas, everything is great, but he always has something to worry about. There’s always something. I guess that would be my worst quality. I tend to worry about things. I’ve been told by many people smarter than me, you don’t need to worry, just relax.
20. What would you say is your biggest regret?
I don’t really have a biggest regret. A couple things, but nothing major. There’s a person I was interested in back in university that I didn’t pursue and I find myself wondering, but I don’t really have a regret. You have to go forward. You can’t cry over spilled milk, as people say.