Lynn Hammond wants to see more women in politics.
Lynn Hammond poses at St. John’s harbourfront. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
Hammond has lived in the political world at various times — as a constituency assistant, departmental director of communications, and most recently as director of communications for then-premier Kathy Dunderdale.
Hammond is one of the people pushing to make Equal Voice NL a force to get more women into politics as MHAs and cabinet ministers.
“The cabinet table is where decisions are made. The legislature is where bills are passed, and so those are the final decision-making authorities,” she says. “The greater the diversity at those places, the broader the perspective.”
Equal Voice is a multi-partisan national organization dedicated to getting more women elected in Canadian politics.
As chairwoman of the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter, Hammond has been one of the driving people behind making it more active here in the province.
Earlier this year, the organization hosted a forum at city hall in St. John’s to talk about getting more women engaged in politics.
At the time, 17 per cent of the MHAs in the province were women, although with the resignation of cabinet minister Joan Shea, that’s dropped to 15 per cent.
Hammond says she believes the playing field can be tilted against women — for example, the party nomination process can be intimidating, and the process can favour candidates that the party approves of.
Moreover, she said she believes that people see the most ugly side of politics — the political theatre and nastiness.
Hammond, who worked as a constituency assistant to Liberal MHA Chuck Furey, said that on-the-ground constituency representation is the most rewarding part, and it’s also the most important part of the job.
“When you think about politics, what a lot of people will think about is cabinet ministers, the scrum, the House, open-line debates,” she said.
“I think that if we can help people see that there’s more to politics than that, then it opens up the opportunities for more people to get involved.”
What is your full name?
Lynn Marie Hammond
Where and when were you born
I was born in St. John’s, Feb. 9, 1977.
Where is home today?
West end, Sesame Park in St. John’s.
What is your favourite food?
Fish. Obviously in Newfoundland if you say fish that means cod, but I’ll expand that to salmon, lobster, crab — if it comes the water, it’s good for me.
What is your favourite movie?
Probably “Annie,” and I’ve actually watched it recently.
What are you reading right now?
“Lean In” by Cheryl Sanberg.
What is your greatest indulgence?
My morning Starbucks coffee in a french press.
What is one act of rebellion you committed as a youth?
I don’t think there was one, but I’ll tell you why. My parents really encouraged me to make my own decisions, and held me accountable for them. So I don’t think I needed to.
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
I have a child with a heart condition, and the most difficult thing that I ever did was he was born with a heart condition and also a severe case of reflux, and he was very sick for the first year of his life. So definitely learning how to care for him and make sure he thrived was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But quite rewarding.
What is your greatest fear?
It wouldn’t be my greatest fear, but probably my greatest concern is making sure that the decisions I make have a positive impact on my children. So I think that’s a concern that is a part of everything I do. But when I comes to heights or bugs or anything like that, no.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I really enjoy singing, and actually, I did have stage fright, but I overcame it this year, and I sang at a convention in B.C. It was actually a global speaker’s convention, and I sang there and it was the first time that I was on the stage in about 20 years.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I’m usually with my kids; usually outside if possible. And in my quiet time, I really love gardening.
What is your favourite vacation spot?
For excitement, it’s Disney. For relaxation, I would say a cabin and a pond and a fire.
What is your most treasured possession?
I’m not very materialistic, so I would say my home, because of the sense of place.
Who inspires you?
My parents. They are extraordinary people — very strong — and I think that my personal values come from them.
What do you consider to be your best quality?
My smile. I say that because if you ask people something about me, I think that’s something they’ll say. I call that my default facial expression.
What do you consider to be your worst quality?
If you ask me for my opinion, you will get an honest and direct opinion. And some people appreciate that, and some people don’t.
Do you have a personal motto?
Can I have two? There are two that I’ve actually acquired. I suppose they’re advice that kind of guide me. The first one is: make a decision and own it. I think that one of the worst things that you can do is nothing. … The other one is: tell the truth, and you don’t have to remember what you said. It just makes life easier.
Who is one person, living or dead, you would like to have lunch with?
I’d like to have lunch with my grandmothers — both of them. Very different women with incredible stories. One had MS and the other one had Alzheimer’s, and I spent a lot of time with those women. And I think that part of the person that I am is because I listened to their stories and learned about the things they had to overcome.
If you were premier of the province, what is one thing you would try to do?
I would want to implement a process for front-line employees to have an opportunity to contribute their ideas. If you talk to people in the public service who deliver the public services — whether that’s programs or whatever — and you ask them about how we can find efficiencies and improve the way that we do things, they will tell you. They have some great ideas, but they often don’t get an opportunity to express those in meaningful ways — in ways that can impact decision-making.