Dressage Canada Board Crisis After Three Resignations

Fri, 09/02/2011 - 12:09
Canadian Dressage News

Less than 24 hours after Dressage Canada's announcement of the Pan Team, the Dressage Canada Board has fallen following the resignation of its chair Lorraine Stubbs and two more key members. In the wake of Stubbs' forced resignation by the DC board, two further board members resigned on 26 August 2011: W.J. Hartvikson and Margaret Murdoch.

While Dressage Canada only issues a statement on Stubss' departure, a bigger crisis has been exposed within the organisation.

Dressage Canada Statement on Stubbs' Resignation

The Dressage Canada Board would like to announce the regretful resignation of Lorraine Stubbs as chair of the Dressage Canada High Performance Committee, for reasons unrelated to team selection for the Pan American Games.  The Board further announces that Liz Steacie has been named the interim chair of the High Performance Committee until a formal election for the position can be held following the Pan American Games.

The Dressage Canada Board along with the members of the 2011 Pan American Games team are very motivated and positive moving towards to the Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. The team training camp will begin September 25th in Gardiner, NY, with the team horses flying to Mexico from Newburgh, NY on October 11, 2011 with the United States Dressage Team.

Dressage Canada would encourage all members to offer their support to the team as they head to these very important games for Canada.

Stubbs' Response to News Release from Equine Canada

I have received a copy of the News Release issued by Equine Canada on August 29, 2011. The News Release refers to my “regrettable resignation” as Chair of the Dressage Canada High Performance Committee.

I understand that a decision to remove me was made during an in camera session of the Board on August 25, 2011. I was contacted during that session and told I was required to either resign or be removed. This was sudden and surprising. I do not know the reasons for the decision and I disagree with it.

Regrettably, the August 29, 2011 News Release omitted the fact that I filed a complaint with Equine Canada earlier that day regarding the fact of my removal and the procedure undertaken to do so.

I decline further comment until Equine Canada has responded to my complaint.

W.J. Hartvikson's Letter of Resignation

In reference to  the Dressage Canada Board process on Aug 25 resulting in a vote to remove the Chair of the High Performance Committee:

Yesterday, subsequent to learning that a significant, undisclosed, in-camera agenda item concerning the High Performance committee would be discussed at the evening meeting, I appealed to the Board Chair to release to board members the details regarding the issue so that due consideration and a reasoned response could be given.  I was told that there was "no time".

We are now left with a situation wherein a prominent board member of international status has been removed from a significant position by a process that was unnecessarily hurried and which has denied the board any opportunity for thought, reflection and consideration of the options or outcome. 

This unnecessary and precipitous process goes against everything that I have learned in a career which includes significant senior management and board experience.

Canada has very few international Dressage figures.  It needs them far more than a dysfunctional Dressage Canada Board lacking experienced leadership. In light of this process, I am unwilling to continue as a member of this board.

Margaret Murdoch's Motivation for Resignation

My resignation from Dressage Canada Board was prompted by an unacceptable process resulting in the removal of a respected international figure from an important position within Dressage Canada.

In my opinion as an international official and Steward General for Dressage Canada, the fallout of this hasty and ill-thought out board action has damaged the professional reputation of Lorraine Stubbs.

What's  done is done and cannot be undone. My question to Equine Canada is whether they are now prepared to consider action which would indicate their support of Lorraine's credibility.

A person in my position does not resign from a board, which is an important part my life, without careful consideration. One hopes that Equine Canada will extend the same thought and consideration to a satisfactory outcome to this unfortunate situation.        

Equine Canada President Akaash Maharaj Reacts

In lieu of EC president Akaash Maharaj, EC's dressage director Christine Peters sent us the following statement concerning the resignation of Lorraine Stubbs:

"The release was issued because we were concerned that there was misinformation circulating regarding the departure of the Dressage high performance committee chair.  Policy prohibits members from discussing the reasons behind the resignation of any member of the board which is why we restricted the content of the release to mention only that the matter was not at all related to Pan American Games team selection.  We can confirm also that there is no connection between the departure and the recently announced accord between Equine Canada and our provincial sport organizations."

Related Links
Karen Robinson's Blog: Regretfully Yours
Dressage Canada Announces 2009 Dressage Canada Board
Kim Goodyear, Canadian Dressage Chef d'Equipe, Resigns