On June 9, 2014, I interviewed Newfoundland and Labrador politician Paul Lane. See the transcript below:
Matt Barter: This is Matt Barter here with Paul Lane, the MHA for Mount Pearl South.
Paul Lane: How are ya?
MB: Not bad you?
PL: Good, great to be here.
MB: What was your dream growing up?
PL: What was my dream growing up? Well, I can tell you that my dream wasn’t to be a politician. I’m not sure if it was anything in particular. I think perhaps a police officer was one of the things that I had considered. It certainly wasn’t politics. Politics was something which sort of evolved over time, and it basically started off for me, I guess, in terms of being a community volunteer, being involved in my community in a number of things, took on a number of leadership roles and that ultimately led me into politics.
MB: When did you become interested in politics?
PL: After I got married, myself and my wife moved into the City of Mount Pearl and once I got there, I got involved originally with the Mount Pearl Lions Club was my first I guess organization that I had been involved with and from there it went from that to being the Chairperson of the Mount Pearl City Days Celebrations to the Mount Pearl Frosty Festival, Mount Pearl Library Board, chair of the school council, Kenmount Park Community Center, and the Masonic Park Garden of Friendship Foundation and then I guess it was at some point in time you know somebody tapped me on the shoulder and said: “Paul, you know, you’re pretty much involved in everything in the community, you should run for city council.” And that was really my first start in politics was at the municipal level, which ultimately led me to where I’m to today.
MB: What did you do before politics?
PL: Well, I guess the position I left prior to becoming a MHA I actually worked for the A Harvey Group of Companies, which would include Browning Harvey, A Harvey & Company, Harvey’s oil, Argentia Freezers, Harvey Autocarriers, there’s a number of companies within the group, and I managed the Occupational Health and Safety programs as well as the disability and claims management, worker’s compensation, long-term, short-term disability and so on.
MB: What is your favourite part about being a politician?
PL: Without a doubt, it would be the involvement within the community, helping people, talking to people and just simply being involved in things within the community, and certainly, as a MHA, quite often you’re asked to participate or volunteer in a number of interesting things sometimes, a lot of community events for sure but then also you know just you’re asked to speak at a number of events, and also there’s things like I gotten to serve up coffee at Tim Horton’s for Camp Days and flip burgers for McHappy Days at McDonald’s and served at Mary Brown’s I believe for the MS Society. So, you know, there’s a number of activities that come along with being a MHA, and there’s a lot of fun. You get to meet a lot of people. Most importantly, you get to help a lot of people, people who have issues, and it’s very gratifying when somebody comes to you with a concern, and you’re able to help them. Unfortunately, you’re not able to help everybody. The system is what it is. You can certainly lead people in the right direction, you can hopefully cut through some red tape and so on and advocate for them, but the unfortunate part is you can’t always be all things to all people, which you wish you could but certainly when someone comes to you with a problem, and you’re able to solve that problem for them, give them some advice, and help them out then that’s very gratifying.
MB: What is the most challenging part of being a politician?
PL: The most challenging part? Well I think some people would say to some degree with life is not your own anymore because you’re always in the public eye and that is a challenge for sure because you know as much as you love what you’re doing and I truly do, you know simple things that people take for granted, just the ability to be able to say go out with your family and have dinner without people coming up and asking you questions or even staring at you, you can see people sometimes looking over and talking saying “Oh my I know who’s over there,” so you feel like you’re totally under a microscope or you’re in a fishbowl and I guess that’s what comes with public life but you know I think the good definitely outweighs some of the more challenging parts and of course the other thing is that it’s tough on your family and that’s probably the toughest challenge particularly when people are not being kind to you, particularly when perhaps you know there’s commentary made in the media in particular and your family has to hear that and see that, it’s hard on them. As a politician, you do develop a thick skin, but it’s not always easy for your family to hear people being critical of you, so that’s challenging for sure.
MB: How do you balance your political life with your personal life?
PL: Well, admittedly, it’s not easy to do, but the bottom line is you have to find the time, and I guess perhaps where the average people might, you know, say, well, you know they allot so much time for work and so much time for other activities and then I guess they have perhaps some down time. I don’t have a lot of downtime, so for me, when I’m not involved in community events, and so on, even though sometimes you may be tired because you’ve been, you know, steady go with whether it be in the House of Assembly, whether it be dealing with constituents, whether it be attending community events and so on travel and work in the office, some people might say okay well I’ve done all that now I’m tired I need some “me time” to rest. For me, I don’t get a lot of “me time.” I have to take that time and then specifically dedicate it to family time, and there’s other times you have to make the time, and we certainly try at least a couple of times a year to carve out a specific piece of time, vacation time and we go, and we vacation as a family and leave the BlackBerry at home and so on.
MB: Where do you like to vacation to?
PL: Generally speaking, we vacation in Florida a fair bit. As much as I love it here in Newfoundland and Labrador, when you’re in this line of work once again as what they call a “staycation,” it doesn’t really work for somebody in politics, perhaps as your average person because, again if you’re on vacation here at home even though you’re on vacation some other part of the province whatever it’s the same issue of people knowing you and you know they’re wanting to come up and chat with you which it’s not that you don’t like talking to people but you know you’re on vacation, you’re on family time, you want some downtime with your family. You just don’t get it if you’re still in that fishbowl, so the only way that you can truly have a truly relaxing time with your family out of that fishbowl you have to actually leave the province, and we just happen to like Florida because of the weather of course and the other things.
MB: What does your family consist of?
PL: Members of my family? Well, myself and my wife, Charmaine, she’s a Manager at St. Clare’s Hospital, and I have two daughters, Chantal and Chelsea, and they’re 18 and 20.
MB: What are some of your interests outside of politics?
PL: Well, I have a lot of things I guess I’m interested in. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time to pursue them, but I love to travel for sure. Myself and my wife that’s something we both dearly love is travelling, seeing new places and. I enjoy Salmon fishing, although I haven’t gotten to do that now for a number of years just don’t have the time to do it, and I like hunting. I go moose hunting every year, and you know when the time comes, and I have that time on my hands, one of these days, I’d probably spend a lot more time in the wilderness and so on, fishing, doing those types of things in the outdoors because I do enjoy the outdoors and of course, the other side is the travelling piece that’s something we love to do as well, and I plan on doing that a fair bit of that one of these days when I retire.
MB: I also hear that you’re a wrestling fan?
PL: Yes, I am, I admit that, and that’s something that perhaps would surprise some people to some degree, a little unusual perhaps, but yeah, that’s just something you know that I used to watch wrestling when I was only young, myself and my dad on Saturdays afternoon at the time used to come on and something I followed over the years and I still enjoy, we all know it’s not real but it’s like a soap opera for men I guess to some degree, but I enjoy it just a bit of fun, and when I do have an opportunity to kick back a bit or whatever I’ll usually record it, and I’ll watch it, it might be one or two o’clock in the morning or something because I don’t get a chance during the day, but yeah that’s something I do watch.
MB: Definitely entertainment. Who would you say is your favourite current wrestler and your wrestler from the past?
PL: My favourite current? Well, I like a number of them, I suppose, but I guess Hulk Hogan was always one of my favourites from the past, although he’s been sort of making little cameo appearances here and there. The Rock that’s probably my all-time favourite, and in terms of now, Triple H, even though he’s taking on the managerial role of whatever now, but I still enjoy him, and I like The Shield.
MB: How about Daniel Byran?
PL: Yeah, I like him as well, it’s probably not good the way they’ve sort of positioned him as the underdog and so on, and it’s certainly caught on for sure.
MB: He’s the champion now.
PL: He is, he is indeed, but they definitely have a way of developing the storylines and so on to get people all hyped up and excited and whatever, you know, so for me, it’s like its kind of silly, but it’s just something I’ve always enjoyed. I just find it entertaining.
MB: Are you religious? And if so, how do you find that it helps you?
PL: I consider myself a spiritual person. I’m not somebody who necessarily believes strongly in one particular religion or denomination per se. I’m Christian. I believe in God. I was actually raised Salvation Army. My wife was raised Roman Catholic. We were married in the Roman Catholic church, and our kids were christened in the Catholic church. I’m not like a real churchgoer who goes to church every Sunday, although I guess over the years, in terms of being involved both in municipal and provincial politics, I’ve spent a lot of time in churches of all faiths and denominations. I have a really good, I have a strong relationship with, I believe, all of the churches certainly in Mount Pearl, whether they be Catholic, Anglican, Salvation Army, United, Pentecostal and so on because I’ve spent a fair bit of time with all of them. Sometimes helping them with things, attending their events. I really enjoy, in the City of Mount Pearl, they put together this group of clergy, and they have a series of ecumenical church services and every month they’ll rotate from one church to another, and perhaps for, you know, maybe one month it may be in the Salvation Army, but it could be the Catholic priest who’s actually doing the homily, and then next month it could be in the United church, and it could be the Anglican reverend or whatever from the Anglican church could be doing and so on so they mix it up, and I always try to go to those, and I find, I really enjoy them, and it gives me a little sense of peace I guess, and in terms of religion, you say what role does it play I think sometimes it’s an opportunity you know again in this line of work a lot of times there’s a lot of controversy and so on and sometimes there’s negativity, and it’s really busy and fast-paced, and I find a sense of peace and tranquility when I attend any church services.
MB: What are your plans for the future?
PL: Well, I guess ultimately that will be up to the people of Mount Pearl South what my future is politically for sure. I absolutely do intend on running again in the next provincial election, whenever that may be, and I’ll be ready for it whenever it is. You know, it’s been a challenging year for me politically. There’s no doubt having to go through a transition and, I guess, one party to another, certainly a bit of a firestorm for a little while over that. Some people you know questioned the wisdom of my decision, although I have to say I’ve received much more positive than negative, and you’ll certainly get on either side in any, I guess, partisan system; you will get people associated to all parties who are just hardcore believers in that particular party no matter what they do, no matter what they say so you know I did receive some negative from some of the hardcore PC supporters, but then again I’ve been welcomed by open arms from the Liberal party certainly but the most important group I suppose which is the larger group sort of in the middle who are not just totally partisan one way or the other they’re more open-minded, and they’re more about the person.
Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.