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Activist fired for criticizing Dwight Ball, secret recording shows

Anti-government activist Adam Pitcher was fired from work he was doing for the kitchen at the Sundara project in Mount Pearl, because Premier Dwight Ball has an ownership stake in the facility.
Anti-government activist Adam Pitcher was fired from work he was doing for the kitchen at the Sundara project in Mount Pearl, because Premier Dwight Ball has an ownership stake in the facility.

MOUNT PEARL, N.L. — A prominent member of the anti-budget protest movement was fired from working at a Mount Pearl assisted-living facility because Premier Dwight Ball owned the building.

Adam Pitcher, who has organized protests and done media interviews about his opposition to the Liberal government, said he is pursuing a human rights complaint, based on the fact he was fired for his political activities.

Pitcher secretly recorded a conversation he had with Carol Ann Mason, the manager with the Sundara project who hired him and then ultimately let him go.

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That recording was provided to The Telegram, and can be heard online here.

“If this was my own company, if this was all mine, and you know, I’d be willing to take the risk on you, because I knew you,” Mason said on the recording. “But this is somebody else’s company, and I guess if. ... (pause) It’s because of the personal slant, I suppose, right? In terms of Dwight, that’s bothersome.”

The recording was made in June, amid a frenzy of controversy surrounding the government.

Ball was fending off criticism after protesters posted signs calling for his resignation along Prince Phillip Drive, and then a government contractor was tasked with tearing them down in the middle of the night.

Separately, earlier this spring Ball was facing questions about his ownership stake in the Sundara project. Sundara was originally supposed to be a condo development, but after units failed to sell, the ownership started moving to convert it to an assisted-living facility for senior citizens.

Around that same time, Pitcher was hired by Mason to do work for the Sundara kitchen — menu preparation and equipment planning for when the facility opened.

But then Pitcher did some media interviews about putting up the posters calling for Ball’s resignation, and when the Sundara management got wind of it, he was let go.

Mason said it was all a very casual employment relationship, and Pitcher was a family friend, which is why she gave him the job.

“I knew he was out of work. I was trying to help the kid out,” she said.

“But in terms of any type of long-term contract or something, no, there was nothing in place.”

Mason said she never asked Pitcher in advance about his political activities, but she felt that he deliberately withheld the information, and that was the problem.

“I thought long and hard about this, and my feeling was that he wasn’t fully honest with me right from the beginning, and I had to wonder what else he wouldn’t disclose,” she said.

“If he had told me all of that, then I would have been making a decision, I guess, with eyes wide open. Would I have hired him? If he was honest with me? Probably I would have still hired him, but I would have known up front.”

On the recording of the conversation when she fired him, Mason says she tried to speak directly with Ball about this situation, but couldn’t get hold of him.

At that point, Pitcher points out that Ball’s assets are supposed to be in a blind trust, so he’s really not directly involved.

“Well, I don’t know, I guess it’s a perceived conflict of interest, because he is an investor,” she replies. “He is a shareholder, and has a longstanding relationship with the owner, you know?”

The Telegram attempted to speak to Ball for this story, but his director of communications did not respond to a request for comment.

Pitcher said he has since been hired elsewhere. He told The Telegram he plans to speak to a lawyer and pursue a human rights complaint against Sundara.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Adam Pitcher, who has organized protests and done media interviews about his opposition to the Liberal government, said he is pursuing a human rights complaint, based on the fact he was fired for his political activities.

Pitcher secretly recorded a conversation he had with Carol Ann Mason, the manager with the Sundara project who hired him and then ultimately let him go.

RELATED STORIES:

Hawkins pleads ignorance in Parkway poster takedown

Ball faces conflict-of-interest accusations over Sundara project

That recording was provided to The Telegram, and can be heard online here.

“If this was my own company, if this was all mine, and you know, I’d be willing to take the risk on you, because I knew you,” Mason said on the recording. “But this is somebody else’s company, and I guess if. ... (pause) It’s because of the personal slant, I suppose, right? In terms of Dwight, that’s bothersome.”

The recording was made in June, amid a frenzy of controversy surrounding the government.

Ball was fending off criticism after protesters posted signs calling for his resignation along Prince Phillip Drive, and then a government contractor was tasked with tearing them down in the middle of the night.

Separately, earlier this spring Ball was facing questions about his ownership stake in the Sundara project. Sundara was originally supposed to be a condo development, but after units failed to sell, the ownership started moving to convert it to an assisted-living facility for senior citizens.

Around that same time, Pitcher was hired by Mason to do work for the Sundara kitchen — menu preparation and equipment planning for when the facility opened.

But then Pitcher did some media interviews about putting up the posters calling for Ball’s resignation, and when the Sundara management got wind of it, he was let go.

Mason said it was all a very casual employment relationship, and Pitcher was a family friend, which is why she gave him the job.

“I knew he was out of work. I was trying to help the kid out,” she said.

“But in terms of any type of long-term contract or something, no, there was nothing in place.”

Mason said she never asked Pitcher in advance about his political activities, but she felt that he deliberately withheld the information, and that was the problem.

“I thought long and hard about this, and my feeling was that he wasn’t fully honest with me right from the beginning, and I had to wonder what else he wouldn’t disclose,” she said.

“If he had told me all of that, then I would have been making a decision, I guess, with eyes wide open. Would I have hired him? If he was honest with me? Probably I would have still hired him, but I would have known up front.”

On the recording of the conversation when she fired him, Mason says she tried to speak directly with Ball about this situation, but couldn’t get hold of him.

At that point, Pitcher points out that Ball’s assets are supposed to be in a blind trust, so he’s really not directly involved.

“Well, I don’t know, I guess it’s a perceived conflict of interest, because he is an investor,” she replies. “He is a shareholder, and has a longstanding relationship with the owner, you know?”

The Telegram attempted to speak to Ball for this story, but his director of communications did not respond to a request for comment.

Pitcher said he has since been hired elsewhere. He told The Telegram he plans to speak to a lawyer and pursue a human rights complaint against Sundara.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

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