Johnson a political trailblazer
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.