Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Baird was influential in legal, sports communities

  • Print

Lawyer Vaughan Baird’s argument over a speeding ticket in the 1980s persuaded the Supreme Court to rule all of the province’s laws were invalid — but to avoid chaos the high court said all the English-only legislation passed since 1890 was temporarily valid.

Baird, who died on Aug. 17 at his home in Ste. Agathe, also made a splash in the country’s aquatic community. He was 86.

Baird agreed to work on what became a landmark case after the lawyer son of a friend of his got a speeding ticket with only English on it.

Baird’s legal argument was simple: Section 23 of the Manitoba Act required all of the province’s laws to be in both languages (French and English), but the provincial government for decades had passed them only in English.

The ruling didn’t result in more services for the French community in Manitoba, but it did cause the government to finally translate all its laws.

"When I got a ticket he was somebody I consulted right away," Roger Bilodeau, then Baird’s client and now registrar of the Supreme Court, said on Tuesday.

"He offered to work on the case pro bono and he took it from there. He had many causes during his life and he contributed to the community. He was full of passion and many interests.

"This is a sad passing."

Bilodeau said Baird’s last legal battle — suing the city for $2 million over its eviction of the Aquatic Hall of Fame and Museum, which he founded, from the Pan Am Pool in 2006 — will continue.

"He made arrangements it would continue past his own lifetime," Bilodeau said.

Baird was a swimming and diving champion at the University of Manitoba in the 1940s. He graduated with a law degree from Dalhousie University in 1952.

Baird went on to become a nationally and internationally known diving judge, working at Olympic and Pan American Games, four Commonwealth Games and world championships.

Prior to Baird becoming involved, diving, swimming, synchronized swimming and water polo all came under the supervision of the Canadian Amateur Swimming Association. After Baird became founding chairman of the Canadian Amateur Diving Association, he successfully pushed for all four sports to be given autonomy under the Aquatic Federation of Canada.

"We need and rely on people like Vaughan Baird," said David de Vlieger, president of Swimming Canada, in a statement. "He was a tireless supporter of aquatics in Canada. Canadian sport cannot survive without the work and dedication of people like him."

Marcel Aubut, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, said in a statement that Baird’s "contribution, from the grassroots level all the way up to Canada’s Olympic movement, has left a lasting legacy from which Canadian athletes in and out of the pool will benefit for generations to come."

In Winnipeg, Baird pushed successfully for the Pan Am Pool to be built, founded the Aquatic Hall of Fame and Museum of Canada, helped found Sport Manitoba, and created a sports lottery organization that later became the Western Canada Lottery Corporation.

Baird was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1992, for helping found the Aquatic Hall of Fame and his support of amateur sport, and was inductedt into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.

Baird is survived by his sister and several nieces and nephews.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Stuary Murray announces musical RightsFest for CMHR opening weekend

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS June 23, 2011 Local - A Monarch butterfly is perched on a flower  in the newly opened Butterfly Garden in Assiniboine Park Thursday morning.
  • MIKE APORIUS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS BUSINESS - cow on farm owned by cattle farmer Lloyd Buchanan near Argyle Wednesday afternoon -see Larry Kusch's story  January 04/2006

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Winnipeg control growth to deal with climate change?

View Results

Ads by Google