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
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.