One more reason to watch what you say on Facebook
A prominent volunteer on the Burin Peninsula has been abruptly dumped from her position, apparently for making a joke about Danny Williams on her Facebook profile.
That’s according to Pamela Pardy Ghent, a freelance writer and community volunteer who lives in Harbour Mille on the Burin Peninsula.
Ghent is a founding member of the province’s Rural Secretariat, which was founded in 2004 to give rural communities a voice in the development of social and economic policy at the provincial level. She also sits on the secretariat’s provincial council. She is an active volunteer in a variety of community organizations, and even assisted in the distribution of emergency food supplies in the days immediately after Hurricane Igor.
However, an off-color joke about Premier Williams, posted on Facebook, seems to have ended her involvement with the Rural Secretariat.
On Sunday evening, while trick or treaters were knocking at the door, Ghent received a call from Bruce Gilbert, a Deputy Minister with the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, to let her know that she was off the secretariat, effective immediately.
“I am pissed off,” said Ghent, in a phone interview. “And to get a call on Sunday evening, Halloween, around 6 pm – it just seemed like there was an urgency to it.”
Here’s the comment from Facebook, posted just that morning, that seems to have brought down the axe:
"Pamela Pardy Ghent (is) thinking about sending liz an email asking her to disclose the premiers penis size... legit question, right? you know, small man syndrome made it to the psych(ology) books, didn't it? besides, what could it hurt? Everyone can take a joke, right?”
Evidently, not. Ghent is friends on Facebook with at least three PC MHAs, so it wouldn’t take long for word to travel back to Confederation Building. Even on a Sunday.
“He (Gilbert) indicated that some people wouldn’t be renewed, and I was one of them. I challenged it, because there’s been an issue with… filling positions. There are openings on every regional council. He said they were looking for new blood. I came back with, ‘But you have no blood. I’m some of the only blood you have, regionally and provincially.’”
Gilbert didn’t indicate who else had been let go, so Ghent pressed for more information. “I said, if you’re going to get rid of a member, why get rid of a really active member? Because there are other members who I’ve never seen in a meeting. He said, ‘I don’t really know, but I have to tell you that there’s been people writing letters to the editor and that kind of thing.’”
Ghent replied that she had not written any letters to the editor, and had always been discreet when entrusted with confidential information.
“Gilbert said to me, ‘Is there anything you may have done?’ And I knew then that he was giving me a hint. I said, ‘Aha – you’re talking Facebook.’ He said, ‘Well, you’re not on my Facebook.’ And I said, ‘You’re telling me that something I put on Facebook has made this an urgent matter.’ He asked what I had put on there and I told him. He said ‘I... Don’t… Know...’ And the way it was said, made me go ‘That’s what it is!’”
Ghent said her remark was a joke, and could not be construed in any other way.
The notion of being removed from a volunteer board for writing letters to the editor is also ridiculous, Ghent added. “We weren’t supposed to be political. We weren’t brought in because of the way we voted, or because we supported government. That’s not why I was brought on there, anyway.”
“I almost feel like I’ve been sent to my room,” Ghent added.
Ghent said she was surprised by this development because she has always been a big supporter of the premier. In recent weeks, however, she has started chastising Williams in her Facebook updates, for his outburst against Marystown Mayor Sam Synard.
“A lot of people have the feeling that the ABC campaign hurt the JSS (Joint Support Ships) project, which was going to potentially come to Marystown. But we got behind the ABC campaign and supported our premier, supported our province. That was how we saw it.”
Ghent says many people in the area feel strongly that the ABC campaign killed any chance of winning the JSS contract. “But nobody really complained because we figured, that was the price for standing up for what was right. And everyone kind of felt that it was the right thing to do. I talk to a lot of people, and that was the feedback that I got – people knew there were going to be consequences, but in the long term it would be okay because Danny was going to take care of us. But now, with the Sam Synard thing, people are pissed! People who I have never heard say anything against Williams and his Conservatives were not impressed.”
Her dismissal for the secretariat is doubling insulting, Ghent says, given that her input helped give birth to the Rural Secretariat in the first place. “I essentially started the idea of this advisory secretariat when Allison Earle, one of Danny’s right hand ladies, happened into Harbour Mille Grocery on a drive back, in the summer of 2004, and I gave her an earful about how living in rural Newfoundland was a choice. You gain some, and you loose some by making such a choice… A year later, she told me that the conversation I had with her was eye-opening and they formed the regional and provincial council based largely on that. She said, ‘You kind of started this.’”
Ghent sighs when asked what she will do next. “Well, I am not going to (formally) protest being let go from a volunteer position… But I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet and I’m going to be pretty vocal with whoever I talk to.”