Says he will work 'shoulder-to-shoulder' with premier
Though he won't be at the cabinet table for the first time in many years, Harbour Main MHA Tom Hedderson said he's excited about his latest role with the provincial government, and believes it will have a positive impact on his district.
The veteran Progressive Conservative member of the House of Assembly was not included in a large-scale cabinet shuffle announced today by Premier Kathy Dunderdale, and instead will serve as parliamentary assistant to the premier.
Tom Hedderson has been shuffled out of Premier Kathy Dunderdale's cabinet, and will now serve as parliamentary secretary to the premier.
Though it was certainly a demotion, Hedderson is not describing it that way.
He's excited about his new role, and offered unbridled support for the premier, whose popularity in public opinion polls has tanked in recent months.
"It came to a point where, in discussions with the premier, she was looking for somebody with my experience to join her on the eighth floor and take on some special projects, to move files along and get things done," said Hedderson, a former teacher and school administrator who spent much of his career at the former Bishop O'Neill school in Brigus.
"She will outline my duties and responsibilities, and I will work shoulder-to-shoulder with her and do whatever is necessary to further the cause, shall we say."
Hedderson described Dunderdale as an "exceptional leader," and said he is "delighted and excited to be called and given this opportunity to work in close proximity with this established premier."
Hedderson was first elected in 1999 as an Opposition MHA, and has sat as a government member since then premier Danny Williams came to power in 2003. He has held six cabinet posts during this time, the latest being Environment and Conservation.
But that job went to St. George's-Stephenville East MHA Joan Shea in today's shuffle.
Hedderson emphasized that his first concern is to the people of his district, and offered assurances that his absence from the cabinet table will not have a negative impact, and his new role will allow for more time to focus on district issues such as education and infrastructure.
"I can tell you I know how to navigate government," he said.
As for his political future, Hedderson initially stated "I plan to run again in 2015," but quickly offered a caveat, saying "that's something I will re-evaluate in a year or so."
If he does decide to seek re-election, Hedderson said he expects to return to the cabinet table.
"(The premier) has indicated there will be a cabinet post there for me in a year's time if I want to move forward and seek re-election in 2015. But for this year I'll be heavily involved in taking care of whatever business she puts forward."
Meanwhile, Trinity-Bay de Verde MHA Charlene Johnson was moved to a new portfolio as Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, Minister Responsible for the Office of Public Engagement and Minister Responsible for the Research & Development Corporation. She also retains her role as the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women.
She formerly served as Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.