Charlene Johnson's blogging adventure

Melissa Jenkins
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Former cabinet minister shares travel experience overseas

Last year the province's former finance minister traded in her power suits and pumps for sun hats and flip-flops. Now, Charlene Johnson is anxious to tell the world about moving from one side of the world to the other.

Charlene Johnson, right, and her daughter Jorja.

Johnson, the former Progressive Conservative MHA for Trinity-Bay de Verde and youngest female to earn an MHA seat in Newfoundland and Labrador, moved to Brunei in Southeast Asia last September with her husband and daughter. The move has given her the opportunity to write about her experiences travelling.

She is turning that writing into a blog to share with friends and family back home.

"I thought I would combine my love of travel with my love of writing to help others with travel ideas and trip planning," Johnson told The Compass through a social media exchange from Brunei. "I read every review that I possibly can and I hope that my blog can do the same in helping others."

Johnson's background is in environmental engineering, but she held several provincial cabinet posts before her departure, including status of women, environment and conservation, innovation, business and rural development, child, youth and family services and finance.

Johnson's young daughter Jorja began kindergarten when they moved, but she is at the age where she will have memories from visiting different places, and Johnson wants to ensure those memories stay intact.

"It will also serve as a digital journal for Jorja to have as a keepsake when she is older," Johnson explained. "She will be contributing to the blog regarding child focused activities. She loves to write and journals her thoughts on her travels in a book but we are hoping to have a few sentences at the end of our trip reviews in the words of a six-year-old."

Although some saw Johnson, who is in her mid-30s, as one of the most promising female politicians in the province, she resigned her position abruptly last fall and has not looked back. Now, she is a full-time mom, and said the extra time has given her the opportunity to share her travel experiences.

"From the cabinet room to the classroom volunteering, from president of Treasury Board to member of the Parent Teachers Association, from numerous cancelled personal trips due to some crisis to browsing the world map telling my daughter it is her turn to choose our next destination," a paragraph in her first blog entry reads. "Life is definitely different but we are embracing it with wide open arms.

"Since being here we have been on some fabulous excursions."

For the past nine months, Johnson has been active on social media, ensuring those back in Newfoundland could keep up with her and her family. She wanted to turn these experiences into ones she could share far and wide.

"I often get private messages from friends (and) past constituents saying it is so nice to see my Facebook posts, so I thought I would put some effort into it and make it a little more fun," she said.

Blogging about her travels is quite a bit different from life as a politician, and she joked to The Compass about going easy on her with her writing.

"I am far from a blogger so I will learn as I go and I will welcome any feedback," she said.

You can read about Charlene and Jorja's journey at


Organizations: The Compass, Johnson's, Progressive Conservative MHA Treasury Board Parent Teachers Association

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Brunei, Southeast Asia

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Big supporter
    June 27, 2015 - 22:42

    Such negativity from the same old complainers again and again. If you people think you could do better in such a high profiled position, then throw your hat forward. Charlene is a class act and she did what she could, while holding these positions. Everyone has a boss to answer to. As for leaving government, she has a family and that should always come first.

  • Sigh
    June 09, 2015 - 17:53

    Gee, Johnson, can you travel farther than where you are where there is no internet so we don't have to be subject to your spins on travel, and your interest in staying in the spotlight?

  • aubrey lynch
    June 09, 2015 - 12:11

    a very smart woman>>a loss to nl politcs her mistakes in the past came from the higher up's in her party but she took the blunt of it all..ITS POLITCS

  • Duggan
    June 09, 2015 - 11:33

    Do you remember when the Minister of Child, Youth and family Services, Charlene Johnson, would not release reports of deaths of children in her department's care to the Child and Youth Advocate in a considerate and timely way? The Telegram wrote articles about it. Check the archives section.

  • Samuel J.
    June 09, 2015 - 11:31

    Follett's comment is dead on. As much as I resent how the PCs governed this past decade, politicians who retire or are defeated are entitled to respect. One has to feel some admiration for a young family that chooses to travel the unbeaten path - to experience other cultures and develop an appreciation of the larger world. Whether Ms. Johnson ever resumes her political career, it is an education that will serve her well in the years ahead. And while she shares responsibility for the mistakes, bad policy and arrogance of the government in which she was a minister, there are a couple of mitigating facts. The first is a little difficult to define. We react to politicians in part based on substance - their policies, integrity and intellect - but we also react to their personal disposition - how they comport themselves in public. There are a half dozen ministers - people like Kent and King - who have a particular knack for irking the public. Whatever her policies, Ms. Johnson was never the abrasive, grandstanding type. Secondly, Ms. Johnson showed a degree of sense and sensitivity to public opinion by recognizing that her party had essentially lost its mandate to govern. She didn't say so at the time of course, but in all likelihood she decided not to be one of those politicians who hangs onto to power for every last minute and every last dollar they can extract from it. If that's the case, she would be that much more deserving of respect. Too bad the entire government couldn't have behave as well. No one faults Davis for seeking the leadership of his party, but as an unelected, untested premier he had a moral obligation to seek a mandate from the electorate at the earliest possible opportunity. The year given to him by law was not a suggestion - it was a limit. Its purpose was to protect the electorate from the precisely the arrogant, presumptive and undemocratic behaviour we have witnessed. Mr. Davis had no moral authority to appoint an unelected cabinet minister who, in turn, would ignore the precedent of seeking early approval from the electorate. Nor did he have a mandate to monkey with the electoral system. Finally, he had no good reason to abuse to two legal imperatives - the first being the October election date previously set by law and the second being the one year limit on his own tenure as premier. So even within the PC government there are distinctions worth making - behaviours of some that pass muster and of others that do not. The irony for Mr. Davis is that, as unpopular as his government was when he won the leadership, his party would probably have fared better had he called an election early as opposed to dragging it out in this fashion.

    • Anna
      June 09, 2015 - 17:21

      What most people seem to forget is that politicians get paid generously for "serving the people". They also get a pension better than most of us will see for working 8 years. Also, this is the same arrogant woman who was upset with the voters for not voting for her father because she had ensured the roads were paved out in Northern Bay/Conception Bay. Another person who doesn't deserve to have her picture on the front page of the Capital city's newspaper. I wish her all the best in life but I will not be reading her blog.

  • Pizza Tongs
    June 09, 2015 - 10:26

    For an interesting look into this country of Brunei I highly recommend the book: Some Girls-My Life in a Harem-by Jillian Lauren.

  • Bren Follett
    June 09, 2015 - 08:59

    It amazes me how some people just hate to see someone else be successful and able to enjoy life after working extremely hard in politics for a number of years. Why don't some people just get over themselves. We should be proud of a fellow NLerbeing successful and enjoying life!

    • Very true
      June 09, 2015 - 09:58

      I think NL is the only place where people are the first to give to you if your down and out, but hate people doing well for themselves. Charlene was a good person for our district and did a wonderful job. What she does in her 'retirement' is up to herself. If you don't want to read about it on her blog .. well don't.

    • Former BAYWOMAN
      June 09, 2015 - 16:54

      So true-"haters gonna hate!" I also 2nd Very True's statement, "If you don't want to read about it on her blog .. well don't."

  • paul
    June 09, 2015 - 08:38

    who cares?

  • Rob
    June 09, 2015 - 07:45

    Nice country to live in Charlene where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death by stoning. How you can live over in a country like that is beyond me. I hope you are enjoying your life of luxury. What a joke

  • la la la
    June 09, 2015 - 06:45

    la la la....all about me/look at me

  • Political Watcher
    June 09, 2015 - 06:14

    Didn't care what she was doing when here and now I care even less when she is not.

  • Dood
    June 09, 2015 - 04:48

    She needs to be brought to task for her time as CYFS minister.

  • mary and ron slade
    June 08, 2015 - 22:01

    hi Charlene & jorja .haven't read your blog yet but I will .nice to see both your pictures on here. you seem to be enjoying life away from home . facebook is a great way to keep in contact with family and friends. i am happy to tell you that we are going to get the water and sewer in the bottom of the cove salmon cove touch and go there for awhile they were going to leave three homes out our home randy and joan ken and tracey slade. should start up again soon. take good care keep in touch enjoy every day with your family and friends hugs to you all.

  • Michelle
    June 08, 2015 - 11:46

    It is illegal for women to go to work in Brunei. Thus, she has the time to travel. Ironic.

    • Thomas
      June 09, 2015 - 06:41

      I'd rather not hear about her wonderful adventures on the dime of the NL tax payer with her golden handshake MHA pension or any other MHA that copped out early when the going got tough.

    • Chris
      June 09, 2015 - 07:03

      Very classy comment Michelle.

    • Andrew Robinson
      June 09, 2015 - 07:38

      Just as a side note, that's apparently not true. Last paragraph of this article states that "an increasing number of women have entered the workforce in recent years."

    • Greg
      June 09, 2015 - 09:44

      I strongly urge Andrew Robinson to read the entire report he posted. Here is the sentence he is talking about and then a few others from the same report that provide necessary context: “Islamic law generally places women at a disadvantage in areas such as divorce, but an increasing number of women have entered the workforce in recent years.” Brunei is not an electoral democracy. Genuine political activity remains extremely limited. Journalists in Brunei face considerable restrictions. Emergency laws continue to restrict freedom of assembly. The constitution does not provide for an independent judiciary. Brunei’s many “stateless” people, mostly longtime ethnic Chinese residents, are denied the full rights and benefits of citizens, while migrant workers, who comprise 30 to 40 percent of the workforce, are largely unprotected by the labor laws.