MHA de­scribes for­mer pre­mier as men­tor, prin­ci­pled

Char­lene John­son feels mixed emo­tions about res­ig­na­tion of Kathy Dun­derdale


When Pre­mier Kathy Dun­derdale an­nounced on Wed­nes­day, Jan. 22 she would be step­ping down, Trin­ity-Bay de Verde MHA Char­lene John­son did not ex­pect it.

John­son be­gan a strong re­la­tion­ship with the for­mer pre­mier af­ter first get­ting elected to of­fice in 2003.

Dun­derdale took John­son un­der her wing, and be­came her men­tor. That is one of the rea­sons why Dun­derdale’s res­ig­na­tion was very dif­fi­cult for the young cab­i­net min­is­ter.

“When she first told me … I didn’t know what I was hear­ing,” John­son told The Com­pass on Jan. 22. “She looked at me and said, ‘It’s time. I’m go­ing.’ I was speech­less.”

“I sup­ported Kathy from Day 1, and even to­day,” she added. “I quickly learned what a dy­namic, strong, prin­ci­pled woman she was.”

John­son con­tin­ued, say­ing Dun­derdale had the sup­port from all around the cau­cus ta­ble prior to her de­ci­sion, but de­cided to step aside on her own ac­cord.

Fam­ily was one of the rea­sons g iven by Dun­derdale in her an­nounce­ment at Con­fed­er­a­tion Build­ing, and John­son con­firmed it.

“Kathy has five beau­ti­ful grand­sons, and I bet she can’t wait to spend time with them.”

In 2006, John­son was named par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary to the Min­is­ter of the Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, a post Dun­derdale held at the time.

“(Kathy) was so in­clu­sive with me,” John­son ex­plained, adding how Dun­derdale al­lowed her to at­tend meet­ings with some big clients in the nat­u­ral re­sources in­dus­try.

A story many don’t know about Dun­derdale is how she in­flu­enced John­son into un­der­stand­ing that fam­ily life can still come first.

John­son’s daugh­ter Jorja was six months old when the PC an­nual gen­eral meet­ing took place in 2009 in Gan­der. John­son’s par­ents were com­ing to pick up their grand­daugh­ter so John­son could at­tend meet­ings, but they were run­ning late.

“(Kathy) said, ‘give her to me,’” John­son re­called. “She took her into the meet­ing and rocked her to sleep.”

This was one of many mem­o­ries John­son said made Dun­derdale such a in­spi­ra­tional woman to her, and helped her re­al­ize it was im­por­tant to put fam­ily first.

When asked how she feels the PCs will do in the next elec­tion, she didn’t hes­i­tate.

“This is an op­por­tu­nity now for re­newal,” John­son said. “Our goal is fo­cused on win­ning gov­ern­ment again in 2015.

“We are a very prin­ci­pled gov­ern­ment that does things based on the right rea­sons; not pop­u­lar rea­sons. That means a lot to peo­ple. I def­i­nitely think we are go­ing to be a big fac­tor in 2015.”

Shocked about Paul Lane On Mon­day, Jan. 20, for­mer PC mem­ber Paul Lane crossed the floor to the Lib­er­als. Lane was named par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary for the Depart­ment of In­no­va­tion, Busi­ness and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment — the depart­ment where John­son is the min­is­ter — in Oc­to­ber.

“I was taken by sur­prise,” she said. “Paul was the par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary in my depart­ment and I worked with him ev­ery day.”

John­son was sur­prised he had is­sues with the party, and ques­tioned why he took the pro­mo­tion.

“He never said any­thing to me about (any is­sues within the gov­ern­ment),” she con­tin­ued. “He would have been the last per­son I would have ex­pected to cross the floor. But peo­ple make de­ci­sions for dif­fer­ent rea­sons.”

“He never said any­thing to me about (any is­sues within the gov­ern­ment).” He would have been the last per­son I would have ex­pected to cross the floor. But peo­ple make de­ci­sions for dif­fer­ent rea­sons.” — Char­lene John­son, Trin­ity-Bay de Verde


Com­pass file photo

MHA Char­lene John­son holds her daugh­ter Jorja at a func­tion in 2010. John­son gives Pre­mier Kathy Dun­derdale credit for help­ing bal­ance her fam­ily life and work life dur­ing the early years of moth­er­hood.

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