Volunteer Fired

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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.”


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Recent comments

  • Hmmmm
    November 08, 2010 - 10:53

    Dean, are you Dean MacDonald perchance?

  • Dean
    November 04, 2010 - 19:14

    @WilliMakit It think the number of visits to this page is more a factor of pornographic-like fascination with the fact that the Telegram keeps this space so that its journalists can school Geoff Meeker in journalistic ethics. Maybe Geoff can get course credit based on the schooling he's getting?

  • Willi Makit
    November 03, 2010 - 15:34

    @Peter Jackson, I agree, there are a lot of other things going on that Meeker (and the Telegram) could write about. Government's actions to suppress unflattering views and opinions held by media figures certainly is a topic of interest and directly related to the media. I can imagine that anyone in the industry who knows Ghent's story, along with Westcott's, Cochrane's and others, have been influenced by it. Is the public sick of hearing these stories? With 3500 views of this one alone, I believe that the answer is is a resounding ''no''.

  • Peter Jackson
    November 03, 2010 - 10:46

    Geoff: You just confirmed what I said! You decided a year or two ago that this was the worst premier ever (!) and announced it on your blog. Ever since, you've regularly strayed from media issues to take more pokes at him. It's all there in black and white! Eveyone thinks their bashing (or buttering up) is soundly defensible. Including me. But that's beside the point. You sure ain't the only one with huge gripes about the premier. And I share some of those gripes. But I'm determined not to stick dogmatically to one or another narrative. There's enough else going on not to be obsessing about bully tactics every other day.

  • Shannon Reardon
    November 03, 2010 - 10:38

    Excellently put, Geoff. It's ridiculous all the people coming on here (PC Party hacks? 8th floor lackeys??) calling this a "Liberal rant rag" and calling you a Liberal (as if that is a bad thing). It's not even a partisan thing, questioning and criticizing this Premier, though what odds if it was? When did that become treason here? Oh yeah, since Williams started calling people "traitors" for holding divergent views that run contrary to his "vision". It is speaking out as a concerned citizen, one concerned about how our democracy is seriously eroding here because the climate is such that you say anything unflattering about Williams and you will likely face retribution of some sort, especially if you work for gov't, are on a gov't advisory board, work for the Opposition, or even if you are an ordinary citizen (you may get a phone call!) It is truly disgusting, this climate, and the fact that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians acquiesce time and again is possibly even more so.

  • Geoff Meeker
    November 03, 2010 - 10:13

    To Peter Jackson: At no time have I ever “avowed” myself as a “premier-punter” or “Williams-whacker”. You’ve been sharply critical of the premier from time to time. Does this make you a “Danny-basher”? Several journalists like yourself, plus a few commenters, have suggested something similar – that I am a “Danny-hater”, and the like. But here’s the thing. I was once an ardent supporter of the premier, and wrote glowingly of him as late as 2006. But I also paid attention to what he was saying and doing, and, gradually, he lost my support. I am now convinced, based entirely on dispassionate observation, that he is the worst premier since Joey Smallwood. Yes, he has had a positive impact on some offshore deals, but how are we to know for sure? We aren’t allowed to see them. Don’t get me started on the secrecy! And the bullying. And the incompetence (ie expropriating a multi-million $ liability). He is a master at exploiting historical resentment about Churchill Falls, but has destroyed any chance of getting a deal. And how am I supposed to know if his policies are any good? He won’t debate them! Anyone who asks a tough question gets slapped down as “partisan”, “ignorant”, “not from here” or, worst of all, “traitor”. Actually, he lost me at “traitor”. Maybe you can forgive him that hateful, divisive, oft-repeated slur, but I can’t. Especially when compounded by the rest of his antics. I have lived through eight premiers (not counting Beaton Tulk) and Danny Williams has more warning signs than a highways depot. People have challenged me to say good thing about the premier, but, for me, that would be like finding good things to say about Joey Smallwood – the bad outweighs the good, so it becomes an intellectually dishonest exercise. The vast majority of business people I know – including SMALL business people – think Williams is a disaster, but are afraid to say so in public (apparently, for good reason). I speak all the time with regular folk who have lost faith in the premier, and all have a “here’s when he lost me” story to share. Are the 20 to 30 percent who don’t support him heretics – or ahead of the curve? My opinions of the premier are based on critical observation, and I do not apologize for stating my honestly-held beliefs.

  • edison
    November 03, 2010 - 08:03

    If this site is about media "behaviour," can somone offer a reason why this story would be posted on a CBC website, news service and not be open to comments.

  • Bob Jones
    November 02, 2010 - 21:52

    Why is it that the Telegram don't have a Conservative Blog to give blance to Meekers biased Liberal rant rag, oops I mean blog?

  • Peter Jackson
    November 02, 2010 - 18:56

    Simon: I took logic at MUN, but maybe I'm rusty. Is there some faulty syllogism at play here? I suppose it would be possible for Geoff to admit that he's soured on Williams but still give him a break where it's due. So far, I haven't seen a single incidence. In your case, I would be mightily impressedif I saw you endorse anything the premier or the Conservatives do. That is because you are a Liberal, and no doubt proud of it. You worked in Clyde Wells' sdministration, have run as a Liberal candidate, and now work for the Liberal party. Surely I would not be remiss in assuming you would want the premier to look bad, even if the reasons for it are rather thin. And yes, it is certainly possible to weigh the facts and conclude that Danny is NOT the man, as you put it. I've reached that conclusion myself on occasion. I do npt give him a carte blanche pass on everything, as do his loyal supporters. By the way, you still haven't explained how Craig Westcott is going to raise the tone of politics. Bob: Yes, I've been known to (gasp!) praise the premier. Avowed? Hardly.

  • Bob
    November 02, 2010 - 16:41

    Peter, and aren't you an avowed Premier praiser?

  • Ray
    November 02, 2010 - 16:19

    It surprising that The Telegram gives Meeker this free space to masquerade on its page as anything other than a Liberal booster. I hope someone is charging him or the Liberal Party for this constant ad space.

  • Simon Lono
    November 02, 2010 - 15:58

    Peter, you seem to promote one of those peculiar irregular verbs: I support Danny after weighing all the facts and facets. You don't support Danny because you are a Danny-basher. I wonder if it is possible to weigh all the facts and facets and NOT come to the conclusion that Danny is the man? Or does the exercise of weighing all the facts and facets necessarily require the conclusion that Danny is the man? Is Danny-is-the-man true logically as well as factually? Is Danny-is-the-man actually a syllogistic conclusion? By the way, the site requirement that users remain courteous and may not post insulting, discriminatory or inappropriate content should better adhered to because there are no circumstances under which death threats are acceptable.

    • rbrown
      November 03, 2010 - 03:31

      @ WILLI MAKIT "if you don't like the content of the blog, don't read it." - How will I know if I like or not like it unless I read it? "It's called freedom of choice without repercussion." - Freedom to be make the choice of removing her from the position. "until government finds a way to monitor what you're reading" - I guess the first step would be NOT POSTING IT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.

  • Peter Jackson
    November 02, 2010 - 13:54

    First, I'd like to point out that Geoff is an avowed premier-punter, or Williams-whacker. He has said it before, so it's not covert. Perhaps it would be wise, Geoff, to formally state your opposition now and then so people don't assume you're some kind of covert Liberal plant. Like anyone, I'm a political animal too. But I prefer to weigh all facets of the case rather than search for a way to turn the tables against Williams. In most businesses, someone who wrote this about the boss would be shown the door, not only for the mockery itself but for writing something so immature and unprofessional in an open venue. In this case,however, I'm not sure Ghent deserved to be let go. The government is a big pond, and she was such a tiny fish in it. As well, I agree the thrust of the joke was to highlight how ludicrous Westcott's email was. At least I think that's what it was about. It wasn't the funniest thing I've ever read. In fact, it was about as funny as a limp noodle. The exaggerated disgust from government, umm, members was a bit over the top, but if they decide Ghent's poor attempt at humour shows overall bad judgment, that is their prerogative. It's not a black-and-white matter by any means.

  • Paul
    November 02, 2010 - 09:29

    It was definitely a error of judgment for Ms. Pardy to make the comments she did. Even though she volunteered for the position she made public comments in bad taste. NO ONE should assume what you say on facebook is just between you and your friends. It is a public commentary and any comments have and will be used by anyone for disciplinary action by businesses and government alike. Would Ms. Ghent have made these comments in a public meeting, I am willing to bet not, which should tell you something. It is too bad it cost her the position, but we all lose things based on errors of judgment.

    • Justa Peasant
      November 02, 2010 - 13:47

      To those who believe that people shouldn't be allowed to speak or write or be individuals with thoughts of their own: How are you going to stop them? Take away their jobs and put them on "The List"? Yeah. That'll shut um up for good and bonus - it'll keep others quiet too...How come bullies don't understand that respect is something everyone deserves (not just themselves)?

  • Peter
    November 02, 2010 - 08:47

    She acted in an unprofessional manner and was let go, the end. People seem to forget that Facebook is not just a personal diary between friends, it's a public forum if you broadcast your every thought. Even if it was a joke that was misunderstood, it was childish regardless, and the organization she works for doesn't want to appear like they condone that behavior so she was let go. I don't think it's some sort of conspiracy or a dictatorship, she acted immaturely and unprofessionally, I would think that any company would react in the same way. Even the joke reads like a passive aggressive dig, she knew what she was doing and I'm guessing she is over the moon with all the attention she's getting.

  • Chris
    November 02, 2010 - 06:44

    Mr. Wm. Murphy (or Mr. A.. Roy if you prefer), Ms Party-Ghent's comment was meant as a joke. The only bigger joke is the Danny's pettiness - calling people traitors and insignificant for freely expressing opinions in a supposedly democracy. Holding personal grudges make Williams look like a fool. He has surrounded himself with bobble headed lapdogs and it's really starting to show. His term in office is taking a huge toll.

    • Rob
      November 03, 2010 - 08:55

      So... when Pam Pardy does it its "a joke" but when The Premier does it he's a "fool"? How is this consistent?

  • Wm. Murphy
    November 02, 2010 - 06:13

    I noticed on CBC last night during the feedback section, that Mr. Meeker commented on thsi story. He didin't have nice things to say about Minister Skinner making this story public. He blamed the Minister for the national media picking up the item. Isn't that amazing? How could any sensible person blame or deflect the fact that Ms Pardy Ghenet was a moron for posting this garbage. How can any sensible person deflect those actions to the Minister and the gov;t. This is unbelieavable!! Mr. Meeker's public and consistent distain for the Premier is evident but to somehow "shift" the table on this story towards the gov't is quite telling. The mere fact that anyone could shift blame on this facebook discretion, can only be an indication of how slanted Mr. Meekers' future posts will be.

  • Ronnie Biggs
    November 01, 2010 - 21:33

    "but I have to tell you that there’s been people writing letters to the editor and that kind of thing.” Imagine! "That kind of thing"! Someone with a view point that may write to the Telegram! Oh no. Where are we? A revisit to East Berlin or what? So the joke was tasteless ok sure but just call and say take it down but getting rid of a good volunteer over that? Anyway one thing I'd like the Tely to do is take a giant can opener and expose exactly what those high payed officials do in the rural secretariat office???

  • Annmarie
    November 01, 2010 - 14:56

    If Westcott and Ghent are an example of the state of our journalism and that's the only writings they can come up with, what does that say about them? Whatever Danny is or isn't, this type of bathroom humor is uncalled for. Obviously both didn't think before they wrote or they wouldn't have gotten themselves into this mess. It makes both of them look not too smart. If I were an employer I would not want either of them working for me. The comments of those two clowns should only reflect badly on both of them and no one else. I guess they are having great difficulty eating their own words and are trying to blame anyone and everyone else for embarrassment they have brought upon themselves. Nothing but gutter comments from people who you would expect to know better, but obviously they don't! Very unprofessional and very childish to say the least.

  • PIerre Neary
    November 01, 2010 - 13:50

    Whats next ?? Guys in black trench coats driving a black van showing up on your doorstep and taking you away ??

  • W McLean
    November 01, 2010 - 11:54

    "but I have to tell you that there’s been people writing letters to the editor and that kind of thing.” — He almost says that like it's a bad thing.

  • David W
    November 01, 2010 - 09:48

    Just wondering Geoff if there is anything else going on in the "media' world to write about in your "media" column. Whether you love Danny Williams, hate him, or try to be objective on what he says/does (and we know where you fall), my blessed, there must be some media related stories to write about that doesn't include Danny Williams.

  • Wm. Murphy
    November 01, 2010 - 09:47

    Interesting article. I do find the tone of the story somewhat bewildering as well as the comments by the Pam Pardy on today's Open Line. While we will probally never know the real reason why she was not considered for extension on the committee...I do find it completely relevant that her comment on Facebook is reason enough. Facebook is "open" for public consumption and by extension, comments are important. In this case Ms. Pardy's comments crossed the line and are completely inappropriate for someone sitting on a government cttee. Actually, they are inappropriate if she wasn't sitting on a government committee! To even come across as incredulous that the comment may be the reason for dismissal...is incredulous itself. This has nothing to do with peceived intimidation by government. It has to do with comments that are unbecomming and stupid

    • willi makit
      November 01, 2010 - 16:07

      Actually Wm. Murphy, Shawn Skinner said on open line that Ms. Pardy was dismissed for exactly the reason that she claimed. Volunteers, apparently, are not allowed to make jokes on their personal social networking page that may offend the leadership. @David W - if you don't like the content of the blog, don't read it. It's called freedom of choice without repercussion. We still have that freedom here in NL - that is, until government finds a way to monitor what you're reading. I bet you'd like it if that happened, wouldn't you?

  • Shannon Reardon
    November 01, 2010 - 08:39

    If you are on Williams' good side and a (blind) sycophant, you are treated very well. Piss Him off, and this is what results if you are on any kind of board, etc. affiliated with this "government". It is absolutely appalling. Totally antidemocratic. People should be ashamed of this Premier/Dictator. What does he have to do that finally crosses the line for the citizenry?? Another outrageous example of vindictive, punitive control over all. I'd like to remind the Premier that he is the head of a democratic government, not of his own company here. But that doesn't matter to him, or to us as a collective, does it? My guts are turned everyday reading this stuff.

    • Catherine
      November 02, 2010 - 14:15

      I wonder how Ms. Ghent would feel if Danny posted a simular comment about her. We are trying to teach our children about cyber bullying. Good example . My mother always told me "if you can't say something nice don't say anthing at all". And my father always said " do not put anything on paper because it will always come back to haunt you" Good advice don't you think.