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Former rodeo contractor now ‘representative complainant’ in human rights complaint

Laura Ballance, owner of Laura Ballance Media Group, announced decision to ‘take on role’ via social media March 3
The office of the Cloverdale Rodeo Association is seen in the Alice McKay building on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds in 2021. Allegations the Association’s board failed to act to protect workers and volunteers from harassment by ex-GM Mike MacSorley were brought to light in 2021 when a complaint was filed with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. Laura Ballance, inset, said on social media she is now the “Representative Complainant.” (Photo: Malin Jordan. Inset: Image via LinkedIn)

A former communications contractor for the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association is taking on the role of “Representative Complainant” in the Human Rights complaint filed against the Association in 2021.

Former contractor Laura Ballance, president of LBMG (Laura Ballance Media Group), posted an appeal on Twitter March 3.

In the Tweet Ballance wrote, “Hardest decision of my professional career but I know in my heart it is the right thing to do,” she wrote. “So many brave women, so many years, so many witnesses.”

Ballance then asks anyone who was impacted by potential harassment to visit the Allevato, Quail, and Roy website.

In another social post, this time to Facebook, Ballance said, “I have made the incredibly difficult decision to take on the role of Representative Complainant in a highly publicized Human Rights case against the @cloverdalerodeo.”

Ballance wrote she couldn’t comment on specifics, but that she looked forward to going to a hearing so “the many, many witnesses can have an opportunity to testify and the full magnitude of the abuses are brought forward and the brave women who have come forward can have their day in court. I look forward to connecting with employees, volunteers, and contractors who have been impacted by the conduct of the Association and the City (of Surrey).”

Ballance then also appealed for people to visit the law firm’s website.

SEE ALSO: Sexism, systemic racism allegations levelled at Cloverdale rodeo

SEE ALSO: Racism allegations hard to believe say three South Asians with ties to Rodeo

SEE ALSO: Cloverdale Rodeo Association addresses Human Rights complaint

The Cloverdale Reporter reached out to Ballance for a comment and she provided a statement via email that was similar to what she wrote on social media.

“Although I can’t comment on the specifics of the Human Rights Tribunal case at this time, I will say it was an incredibly difficult decision to take on the role of representative complainant in this case, but I believe was absolutely the right thing to do.

“I very much look forward to proceeding to the hearing so that the many witnesses can have an opportunity to testify and the full magnitude of the abuses are brought forward and the brave women who have come forward can have their day in court.”

The human rights complaint in question was filed against the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association on behalf of multiple victims with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal on July 12, 2021.

The complaint was filed by a lawyer “on behalf of workers and volunteers who have experienced discrimination contrary to section 13 of the Human Rights Code committed by the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association.”

In the complaint, allegations of eight years of systemic racism, sexism and physical abuse were levelled at Mike MacSorley, former general manager of the Association.

The complaint contends, from 2014 to 2021, the non-profit association employed MacSorley as general manager even though they knew of his “blatantly racist views of South Asian people and ongoing egregious conduct toward female staff and volunteers.”

The complaint also alleges key board members from the Association—at that time, president Shannon Claypool, vice-presidents Dale Saip and Rich Kitos, and treasurer Gerry Spielmacher—were made aware of the allegations but did nothing to fix the situation and that they conspired to cover it up.

The Association addressed the Human Rights complaint in a press release issued July 26, two weeks after the story broke.

In the release, the Association said it takes the allegations against them in very seriously and they are “vigorously working” to gather all the information they can. “The (Association) will respond fully within the process determined by the Human Rights Tribunal.”

The release explained three steps the board had taken—prior to the filing of the Human Rights complaint—after an internal human resources investigation was undertaken in February of 2021 to address concerns at the time.

The release noted, “The general manager responsible was removed in February; a draft for Respectful Workplace Policy has been developed; a process for anonymous reporting of workplace concerns to an independent professional is included in that policy.”

Only Spielmacher is still on the Association’s board (president) as both Claypool and Saip were voted out at the AGM in October, 2021, while Kitos resigned from the board in December, 2021.

The Tribunal has yet to make a decision on whether it will hear the case or not.

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Malin Jordan

About the Author: Malin Jordan

Malin is the editor of the Cloverdale Reporter.
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