Header graphic for print
The Legal Playing Field Everything I needed to know about the law I learned on the softball diamond


Posted in Baseball, Ontario Government

I remember attending Umpires Clinic and studying the various ways under the Rules of the Game for an offensive player to be put “out”. umpire clinic

One of the Rules provided that the baserunner is out “…if, while off a base, the baserunner be touched by the fielder with the ball contained in his glove.”

The Umpire-in-Chief proceeded to amuse and amaze attendees at the Clinic by interpreting the Rule as follows: an “out” would be recorded, under the Rule, he said, by either: (1) the fielder touching the baserunner with his glove hand containing the ball; or, (2) by the fielder touching the baserunner with his bare hand while holding the ball in his glove hand.

Thankfully, all attendees at the Clinic quickly discerned that option (2) was a nonsense because, while perhaps correct on a strict interpretation of the words of the Rule, the interpretation made a mockery of the game we all cherished and respected.

It is indeed regrettable that similar discernment does not seem to apply when it comes to constitutional legal interpretations.

The recent ruling on the alleged constitutional violation occasioned by the use of prayer to open sessions of municipal council is, in my opinion, both narrow and flawed, though perhaps technically, legally, correct.

  • The profound difficulty with the constitutional  legal outcome was driven home recently when a GTA municipal Council, fearing its own constitutional legal battle, voted not to recite or sing our national anthem at the start of its meetings for fear that the anthem’s words “…God keep our land glorious and free…” would lead to a costly and potentially successful constitutional legal challenge.

With respect, everyone needs to collectively give their heads a good shake!

For generations we have recognized that either or both prayer (of whatever denomination or nature) and the national anthem serve to civilize and formalize proceedings.

We once would intone both prayer and the anthem at the start of every school day (and give persons the option of not participating in these activities if they so wished). We still sing the anthem before sporting events…for heaven’s sake.  Pun intended.

  canadian flagBut perish the thought of doing so at Municipal Council Meetings, lest the separation of Church and State be misunderstood.

By who?  Really…this, in my opinion is putting legal form ahead of meaningful substance and leads to perverse decisions like prohibiting the anthem, to the detriment of our societal and constitutionally guaranteed: peace, order and good government.

Laws need to work for the collective good of our society and must be interpreted in context, not in isolation, lest we make a mockery of one of the few well functioning democracies in the world.

Our legal experts and authorities might benefit from attending Umpires Clinic.