John­son a po­lit­i­cal trail­blazer

The Compass - - OPINION - Melissa Jenk­ins is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass News­pa­per, and can be reached at melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

Char­lene John­son is con­fi­dent, pro­fes­sional and ed­u­cated. And af­ter last week’s cab­i­net shuf­fle, the soft-spo­ken MHA for Trin­ity-Bay de Verde is now ar­guably most pow­er­ful fe­male elected politi­cian in the prov­ince.

On Jan. 28, Premier Tom Mar­shall named John­son this prov­ince’s new­est fi­nance min­is­ter, a po­si­tion of ma­jor re­spon­si­bil­ity and ac­count­abil­ity for the gov­ern­ing Tories, who have been wad­ing in trou­bled wa­ters due to job losses in pre­vi­ous bud­gets, de­bate over the mer­its of the Muskrat Falls project and an up­roar over the con­tro­ver­sial Bill-29.

John­son takes the “most pow­er­ful woman” ti­tle from for­mer premier Kathy Dun­derdale, who stepped aside from her po­si­tion Jan. 24.

It ap­pears the well-liked John­son, who was men­tored by Dun­derdale, is step­ping into the lead­ing role, while the for­mer premier fades into the back­ground of her Vir­ginia Wa­ters dis­trict. But this is no sur­prise to those who know John­son. She has a rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing per­son­ally in­volved in her dis­trict and has held nu­mer­ous cab­i­net posts since 2007. But she has al­ways main­tained her down-to-earth per­son­al­ity in an oth­er­wise mo­not­o­nous cab­i­net.

As a mother of a young daugh­ter, John­son has man­aged to bal­ance her fam­ily life with the stresses and de­mands of be­ing an MHA and cab­i­net min­is­ter — some­thing she says she was en­cour­aged by Dun­derdale in the early days of be­ing a cab­i­net min­is­ter.

Some have stated Dun­derdale may be the last fe­male leader this prov­ince sees in a while, but John­son is demon­strat­ing that be­ing a woman doesn’t make or break some­one.

As a role model for young girls, she has proven hav­ing a fam­ily and be­ing a mother does not limit you. She has shown great lead­er­ship to those in her dis­trict, and is well­liked by many con­stituents. She has shown that hard work and ded­i­ca­tion pay off, and the proof is in her new cab­i­net post.

As an en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer, she be­gan her role in cab­i­net as the Min­is­ter of Nat­u­ral Re­sources. Ob­vi­ously, she had many skills and abil­i­ties, be­cause she has since held port­fo­lios in Child, Youth and Fam­ily Ser­vices and In­no­va­tion, Busi­ness and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment. And now, with lit­tle known ex­pe­ri­ence in the area, she has been pro­moted to fi­nance.

It speaks vol­umes of her cre­den­tials, abil­ity and ded­i­ca­tion to move so quickly up the po­lit­i­cal lad­der be­fore reach­ing the age of 40 — she has a few more years to go.

John­son is at the top of her ca­reer. There is nowhere for her to go, un­less she de­cides that the premier’s chair is some­where she would like to be.

But John­son just rolls with the punches, and with no higher am­bi­tions at this time, she is happy just where she is.

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