Three months in, MHA is learning the ropes

Aethne Hinchliffe
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Burgeo-La Poile MHA said he feels like he hit the ground running after his first three months serving the southwest coast.

Burgeo-La Poile MHA Andrew Parsons. Joe Gibbons photo

“The transition has been actually pretty smooth for me because I did have the advantage of what the job entailed by watching dad.” Said Mr. Parsons, referring to his father Kelvin Parsons, the former MHA for his district.

He said having Joanne Clarke, his father’s former assistant, has made the transition even smoother because she knows a lot about processes and procedures.

Although most newly elected MHAs start out strictly as backbenchers, the small size of the official opposition means Parsons has four roles, included three portfolios for which he is critic.

He was first named deputy opposition house leader. His three portfolios are Department of Justice, Department of Education, and Department of Advanced Education and Skills.

Being the critic for a department means keeping up to date on what is happening in that department, as well as what news media have to say about the department.

Being a critic has raised his profile across the province.

“I guess one of the things I wasn’t aware of is the number of phone calls you get from people all over the province because I’m the critic for that department,” he said.

People who have issues with the justice or education departments have been calling him for help.

As a critic who hasn’t yet had much of a chance to criticize, Mr. Parsons said he hopes to be fair and constructive in his criticism. He said he won’t criticize for the sake of criticizing, but he will be leaning on the government to do better wherever possible.

“I cannot wait to get in the house,” said Mr. Parsons. “I cannot wait.”

Less than three months in, it is difficult for Mr. Parsons to look back on what he has accomplished so far, but he feels there are a few things he has done. He said living up to his one campaign promise of being accessible to his constituents is an accomplishment he is proud of.

“There has not been a phone call that has not been returned,” he said.

Much of an MHA’s work is behind the scenes with private citizens. He said those calls have been coming in and he has been assisting wherever possible.

He said he feels he has been good at communicating with his constituents, appearing on open line, making himself available to the media, and just getting out and talking with people.

“I think I’ve managed to raise some important issues, district and province wide the fire fighters tax credit, for one.” he said.

Mr. Parsons said the appointment of Dwight Ball as interim Liberal leader and opposition leader was a good move that he supports.

“Having Dwight there now is only going to help us move forward,” said Mr. Parsons.

He said regardless of party politics or assigned portfolios, his personal philosophy is to put his constituency first,

More than anything, Mr. Parsons said he is loving his job and he is constantly looking forward to the future.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. It’s what I always wanted to do.”

Organizations: Department of Justice, Department of Education, Department of Advanced Education and Skills

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