Charlene Johnson has a B.Sc. in Forest Engineering and a Masters degree in Environmental Engineering. It’s no surprise she had the brains and drive to become the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Assembly, during the 2003 provincial election.
Johnson defeated Liberal Lloyd Snow in the district of Trinity-Bay de Verde. She was re-elected in 2007, when she won 72% of votes, and was subsequently appointed Minister of Environment and Conservation by Danny Williams (who was premier at the time).
She served in this Minister role until 2011, when Premier Kathy Dunderdale appointed her Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services. In October, 2013, Johnson was appointed Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, and in January, 2014, she was named Finance Minister (to replace Tom Marshall, when he became acting premier).
That’s an impressive decade in politics, and on last night’s NTV news, Charlene cited the very recent pension reform deal, and establishing full day kindergarten, as career highlights.
Why the departure? An accident left Charlene struggling to get into work for part of the year, and during a time when it was unclear if she’d be able to return to work, her husband seized a job opportunity in Asia. She has decided to move — with her daughter — to reunite with her husband and focus on her family. She also intends to finish her MBA.
Her departure to focus on her family is becoming an all to familiar scenario for the PC Party (it was, for example, why Frank Coleman suddenly withdrew his uncontested self from becoming the next premier), and her leaving is another blow in a series of blows for the Tories. They’re set to elect a new leader next Saturday, and instead of momentum, they’re dealing with the opposite: Two cabinet ministers resigned this week, they’ve lost byelections of late, saw some party loyalties shift, and continue to endure a steady slump in public opinion of the party’s stability and capabilities.