MLB Seeks Higher Court Ruling in Chief Wahoo Legal Case in Canada

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Update: A filing by Major League Baseball to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice last week argues that the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal doesn't have jurisdiction to consider the case against Chief Wahoo brought by Douglas Cardinal, an activist and member of the Blackfoot Tribe. A judge had ruled earlier this month that Cardinal had standing to have his case heard.

The matter dates back to last fall when the Indians were squaring up against the Toronto Blue Jays. Cardinal sought a ruling that the Tribe's mascot was discriminatory.

MLB argued for a review by the higher court before any tribunal hearings, saying that it was a federal not local matter. The tribunal was expected to hear the case in the coming months but no firm date had been set.

"With this request, it is abundantly clear that Major League Baseball does not want scrutiny of the racist and discriminatory nature of the Cleveland team's name and logo," Cardinal said in a press release, according to Cleveland.com. "If the league wants my complaint to go away, it simply has to make that discriminatory name and logo go away. Otherwise, I'll continue to fight."

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(Original story 6/6/17): The Toronto Star reports that a complaint filed last year in Canada about Chief Wahoo will proceed to a hearing before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

A judge ruled that local activist Douglas Cardinal, who originally brought the challenge during last year's MLB playoffs, had legal standing to do so. Lawyers for the Indians and Major League Baseball, along with lawyers for the Rogers Centre, (where the Blue Jays play) all attempted to have the challenge thrown out.

“If the applicant was either not indigenous, not a baseball fan, and not otherwise interested in attending games at the Rogers Centre, my finding on the issue of standing would have been different,” adjudicator Jo-Anne Pickel ruled on May 23. “In my view, the applicant has asserted a sufficient personal interest to have standing to bring this application.”

There is no date set for the hearing.

Cardinal claims that Chief Wahoo is offensive and discriminatory. The charge was initially considered hours before a playoff game in Toronto last year. At that time, a judge decided that the Indians could wear their uniforms (with the Wahoo logo) only hours before the first pitch.


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