Time in office
Rookie MHA Glenn Littlejohn reflects on his months in office
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
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.”