Time in of­fice

Rookie MHA Glenn Littlejohn re­flects on his months in of­fice

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

It’s been nine months since Port de Grave MHA Glenn Littlejohn traded one of­fice for an­other.

It’s been al­most a year since the newly minted MHA for Port de Grave, like so many other mu­nic­i­pal politi­cians, climbed the po­lit­i­cal lad­der to the Con­fed­er­a­tion Build­ing.

Not much has changed for Littlejohn since the vet­eran Bay Roberts town counci l lor and mayor made the jump to the House of Assem­bly.

“You’re still deal­ing with peo­ple,” he said.

The is­sues and the ques­tions have changed but in the “day- to- day ” he finds him­self still deal­ing with his con­stituents, “peo­ple’s is­sues and try­ing to help peo­ple.” “It’s what I want to do and what I try to do,” he said. Littlejohn ad­mits that since his move to the pro­vin­cial stage things tend to move with a bit more ur­gency, but for the most part, the op­er­a­tions sur­round­ing his move to the House of Assem­bly are very sim­i­lar.

For Littlejohn, the big­gest ad­just­ment has come when he has had to go to the of­fice.

It was five months be­fore the newly elected Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment sat in the House of Assem­bly.

This meant Littlejohn spent time in his dis­trict of Port de Grave, speak­ing with con­stituents and start­ing the process of de­liv­er­ing on his cam­paign prom­ises.

“It’s like any­thing. The more you ride your bike, the more con­fi­dent you feel, the more cus­tom it be­comes and it starts to feel like sec­ond

na­ture.” — Glenn Littlejohn

When the House fi­nally opened on March 5, Littlejohn ad­mits it was a lit­tle un­com­fort­able at first.

“It’s like any­thing,” he said. “The more you ride your bike, the more con­fi­dent you feel, the more com­fort­able it be­comes and it starts to feel like sec­ond na­ture.”

Littlejohn said as he spent more time amongst his peers in the House “it has got a lot more com­fort­able.”

“When you go in and you sit there and then all of a sud­den you look around and go, ’Where am I to?’” he said.

With be­com­ing a pro­vin­cial politi­cian, there has come a new set of pro­cesses to learn.

“There’s pro­ce­dures, there are rules and there is a way of do­ing things,” said Littlejohn. “You look around and you see how things are done and when you’re called upon to do your part, you do your part.

“We’re learn­ing. It’s been a steep curve from the House per­spec­tive, but it’s been a lot of fun as well. I’ve learned a lot and we’re in a pretty ex­cit­ing time in our prov­ince as well.”

Al­ways have to look good

Any­one who makes a habit of watch­ing the evening news on ei­ther CBC or NTV are sure to have seen Littlejohn an aw­ful lot.

Ev­ery time New­found­land and Labrador Premier Kathy Dun­derdale rises to ad­dress the House, the Port de Grave MHA can be seen over her left shoul­der.

“I like to tell peo­ple that if you want to see Glenn Littlejohn, turn on their tele­vi­sions be­tween 6 p.m. and 6:10 p.m.,” Littlejohn said with a laugh. “You can’t be missed, you’re in the shot ev­ery day.” It hap­pens quite a lot, ac­tu­ally. This means ev­ery time Dun­derdale rises, Littlejohn has to have his head in the game, so to speak.

“It’s a seat where you have to be alert,” said Littlejohn. “Even if it’s not ques­tion pe­riod … the House of Assem­bly is broad­cast ev­ery day when it’s sit­ting. With the gov­ern­ment house leader and the premier, who get a lot of at­ten­tion and are on their feet a lot … you’ve got to be alert.”

Littlejohn said some­times be­ing on cam­era can be a hin­drance to get­ting work done with other mem­bers of cab­i­net, but he sees it as a good thing.

“Peo­ple see me and they know I’m rep­re­sent­ing them,” he said.

Littlejohn could, dur­ing nu­mer­ous sittings, be seen with a black head­set at­tached to his right ear. There is a sim­ple ex­pla­na­tion for the ear­piece. “It lets me lis­ten,” said Littlejohn. “In a lot of cases, when the premier or the gov­ern­ment house leader is speak­ing, they’re speak­ing away from me.”

When this hap­pens, Littlejohn said there are times when he wasn’t able to pick up on all that they were say-

HERE’S WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT MHA GLENN

LITTLEJOHN:

Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood: • “Glenn is in a dif­fi­cult pos­tion, in a way. On a pos­i­tive side, he’s on the gov­ern­ment side. On the dif­fi­cult side, he can’t speak out and be as some peo­ple would ex­pect their MHA to be.” • “Glenn knows the is­sues of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of this dis­trict and specif­i­cally, of Bay Roberts, quite well.” • “I feel that he’s get­ting his feet wet. I also feel that he is work­ing hard and do­ing a good job. He’s cer­tainly helped the Town of Bay Roberts over a few hur­dles since he’s been in there, which is good.” • “I think he’s in a hon­ey­moon pe­riod, sort of. He’s get­ting his feet wet and he’s tread­ing lightly in some ar­eas, while in other ar­eas he’s work­ing hard be­hind the scenes with gov­ern­ment try­ing to straighten a few is­sues and move them for­ward.” Up­per Is­land Cove Mayor Ge­orge Adams: • “As a for­mer teacher, I’d give him a pass­ing grade. He’s done a rea­son­ably good job.” • “He’s cer­tainly ac­tive in the af­fairs of the town. He’s at­tended a fair num­ber of the town’s func­tions and that makes him ac­ce­si­ble to the res­i­dents.” • “From coun­cil’s per­spec­tive, he’s cer­tainly avail­able to set up meet­ings in var­i­ous gov­ern­ment de­part­ments.” • “Cer­tainly, we can’t ex­pect too much in a short pe­riod of time, but from my in­volve­ment with him as the mayor of Up­per Is­land Cove, I feel he is learn­ing quite fast and he’s do­ing a rea­son­ably good job.” ing, al­low­ing Littlejohn to avoid any em­bar­rass­ing fa­cial ex­pres­sions.

“I’ve learned that by putting the ear­piece in, I’m not smil­ing when I should be se­ri­ous and I’m not se­ri­ous when I should be smil­ing,” he said.

Not only has the new gig brought around changes in Littlejohn’s pro­fes­sional life, it has also had an af­fect on his fam­ily life.

“For the first two weeks I was home af­ter get­ting elected, we were try­ing to get ev­ery­body out the door with an ex­tra body around the house, around the kitchen was some­thing we all had to get used to,” he said.

Littlejohn said that what most peo­ple didn’t re­al­ize was that while he served 15 years on coun­cil, he also held down a job with the Depart­ment of Tourism, Cul­ture and Re­cre­ation.

“Since my boys were born, on a reg­u­lar busi­ness day I’ve never had the op­por­tu­nity to sit down and have break­fast with them be­cause I was al­ways gone. When they were get­ting out of bed, I was on my way to St. John’s,” he said.

The same thing hap­pened in the nights when Littlejohn would re­turn home.

Of­ten he would have just enough time to say hello and eat sup­per be­fore head­ing to a coun­cil func­tion.

“From a fam­ily point of view, when the House isn’t in ses­sion, I’m in the dis­trict ev­ery day,” said Littlejohn. “In a strange kind of way, it’s pro­vided us with an op­por­tu­nity to have more fam­ily time.”

It also al­lows him the time to be there should his two boys, An­drew and Scott, need to be picked up from school.

An­other ad­just­ment Littlejohn had to make was dur­ing the drive to work. When he was driv­ing to his place of em­ploy­ment prior to his elec­tion, Littlejohn would car­pool with a group of peo­ple. Now he makes the drive alone.

Since Littlejohn has been elected the pro­vin­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the dis­trict of Port de Grave, there has been $75,000 in community en­hance­ment for four com­mu­ni­ties, cre­at­ing jobs for 23 peo­ple in the area.

There has been $20,000 in funds for re­cre­ation pur­poses made avail­able to com­mu­ni­ties in the area.

Littlejohn an­nounced last week that $31,964 had been given to Spa­niard’s Bay Spe­cial Events Com­mit­tee to ren­o­vate the re­cre­ation cen­tre in the community.

“With what peo­ple don’t see in a lot of cases, I feel we’ve done fairly well,” said Littlejohn.

As well as be­ing sat­is­fied with the work that has been com­pleted in the area, Littlejohn also takes pride in be­ing there for the peo­ple in the dis­trict.

“If you talk to the peo­ple that have con­tacted us, dropped into the of­fice, we’re here and we’re avail­able,” he said. “It’s gone well. It’s been a learn­ing curve for both of us. Not only my­self too but for Dawn (Bat­ten, Littlejohn’s as­sis­tant) as well.”

When he was elected, Littlejohn made note of his de­sire to have work done on roads in the Port de Grave dis­trict.

Thus far, there has been spot work done here and there along the Con­cep­tion Bay High­way, but Littlejohn is con­fi­dent more is to come.

“When the an­nounce­ment comes out, I think over­all, I’m happy with the sup­port I’ve re­ceived from the Depart­ment of Works and Ser­vices and Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs, we’re go­ing to get some work done,” he said. One thing he stressed was that his term lasts for four years. To­day’s so­ci­ety lives by the creed “what have you done for me lately.”

“I just hope peo­ple don’t judge me on one year,” said Littlejohn. “I’m hop­ing peo­ple will judge me on the work we’re go­ing to do over the four-year pe­riod.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.