BC Government is “Actively Working” On Legislative Response to Bill S-209

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A further legal change in BC Combat Sports law is expected shortly as a result of Bill S-209 making amateur combat sports illegal in BC.  Similar legislative shifts are likely also in the works throughout other Canadian jurisdictions.  The BC Government confirms, through the BC Athletic Commissioner, that they are “actively working” on a legislative response to the amateur combat sports dillema.  If you are a stakeholder in the Combat Sports/MMA community now is the time to give your feedback to the Government to ensure they choose the most sensible path in addressing this issue.

Below is the latest information released through BC’s Athletic Commissioner.  I should point out that this press release seems to overlook another category of legal amateur combat sports and those are combat sports “on the programme of the International Olympic Committee or the International Paralympic Committee “.  These are expressly exempted from criminality due to section 83(2)(a) of the Criminal Code and don’t require Provincial permission unless “the province’s lieutenant governor in council or any other person or body specified by him or her requires it“.  These include sports such as boxing, wrestling, judo and taekwondo.

Changes to the Criminal Code of Canada affecting Combat Sports in BC
The Federal Government has approved Bill (S-209) to amend the Criminal Code of
Canada and this Bill has now received Royal Assent and is in effect as of June 19,
2013.
This amendment makes professional boxing and mixed martial arts contests legal in
Canada when they have the permission of an athletic board or commission. This
change has cleared the way for professional boxing and mixed martial arts contests to
commence in this province.
In addition, this Bill amends Section 83 of the Criminal Code to permit a “contest
between amateur athletes in a combative sport with fists, hands or feet held in a
province with the permission of the province’s lieutenant governor in council or any
other person or body specified by him or her”.
This means that amateur combat sport events in B.C. will only be permitted if approved
by the Province through one of two possible means:
 The Province can designate, with Cabinet approval, amateur combat sports
where events can take place without regulation and supervision from a
sanctioning body. No license will be required; or,
 The Province can designate, with Cabinet approval, amateur combat sports
where events can take place but only with regulation and supervision from a
sanctioning body designated by the Province. Licenses will be required. In such
cases Cabinet will also need to approve the unique sanctioning body for each
sport.
Until such designation is made, the changes in the Criminal Code of Canada make any
amateur combat sport contest outside of the law.
While decisions about which amateur sports will be designated in which category have
not been made, the Province is actively working on a response to this change in Federal
legislation and will make the results known as soon as possible.

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