Archive for July, 2013

Update August 14, 2013 – the plans discussed below have gone through and will apparently also include pro MMA.  You can click here for details

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As previously discussed,  Canadian federal law designates amateur combat sports  ”in the programme of the International Olympic Committee” legal by default.    These include  Boxing, Wrestling, Judo and Tae Kwon Do.  These amateur combat sports do not require government regulation unless Provinces pass legislation to the contrary.

Other Amateur combat sports, such as MMA, Kickboxing and Karate, remain illegal by default.  However, Bill S-209 allows this to be fixed by permitting Provincial intervention. This is a useful tool given to the Provinces and one that each Province should quickly use to give all Canadians a list of permitted amateur combat sports.  Saskatchewan appears to be the first Province ready to pull the trigger post Bill S-209 to give a legal framework for amateur combat sports in that Province.

I am advised that an Order in Council is being presented at Cabinet on July 31, 2013 and if passed will be effective immediately.   The Order in Council will designate the PSGB Saskatchewan Martial Arts Association as the specified body responsible for the sanctioning and oversight of amateur combative sports, including MMA, kickboxing, modified muay thai, and full contact karate.

This Order is expected to pass and I will update this post once I hear about the final status of the Order in Council.

Earlier this month I discussed the combat sports athletic commission rumored to be coming to Weyburn, Sakatchewan concluding that if Cities in Saskatchewan have the authority to regulate MMA under the Cities Act and there is “no interference from the Provincial legislature” then the path may be clear for municipal commissions.

I have just been informed that the Province will in fact interfere with this development making it clear that in their view the Cities Act will not give Weyburn the authority to regulate MMA.  Melanie Baumann, Senior Policy Analyst for Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport has set out the Province’s position as follows:

Regarding the messaging about the Weyburn event, bylaw and interest in bringing in the Central Commission from Alberta….

 Our legal advice is as follows: “the passing of such a bylaw and establishing such a body would not come within the proposed amendments of the Criminal Code so as to make a professional MMA fight legal under the Code. While the bodies established by municipalities under the existing legislation can be seen to be established “under the authority of the province’s legislature”, they are established pursuant to a general authority and as such would not come within the wording of the section.”

 If the government chooses to sanction professional MMA (regardless of whether provincial or municipal), new legislation or amendments to the three Municipal Acts would need to be done. 

Ms. Bauman’s analysis may prove troubling for Commissions in Alberta if their authority was scrutinized as their powers are derived from a similar legal footing as what Weyburn purported to do.  Although, as previously discussed, section 535 of Alberta’s Municipal Government Act is a strong factor in support of Municipal Commission powers in Alberta and a similar section does not exist in Saskatchewan.  The bottom line is Provincial governments have the trump card in how Combat Sports will be regulated in Canada.  Saskatchewan has played theirs.

Criminal Code Image

When an unlawful combat sports event takes place in Canada typically prosecutions will take one of two forms, either pursuant to Section 83 of the Criminal Code for being unlawful ‘prize fights’ or under various Provincial or Municipal legislation involving unsanctioned combat sport events.

Since section 83 of the Criminal Code was overhauled by Bill S-209 there have not been any prosecutions under the the new section so to get things started I will address historic prosecutions.  These have been few and far between with the two most prominent cases being R v. Jay Chang and R v. M.A.F.A.

In the above cases the Defendants were hosting an MMA contest and a Kickboxing contest respectively.  These were held without regulatory oversight by a Provincial or Municipal Athletic Commission.   In both cases a defense was raised that the events were a form of amateur boxing and therefore exempt from prosecution.  The Courts disagreed noting that a traditional definition of boxing will apply when determining whether a prize fight run afoul of the Criminal Code.  (Note – under the new section 83 there are more amateur sports besides boxing which may be exempted absent Provincial intervention ).  In reaching this decision Judge Brien repeated and adopted the reasoning in R. M.A.F.A. and provided the following reasons:

Both exclusions under s. 83(2) are based upon the definition of ‘boxing contests’.  In M.A.F.A. Inc. supra, Kastner J. reviewed several dictionary definitions of ‘boxing contest’ to find the ordinary meaning of the term, concluding as follows:

[34] “ The dictionary definitions seem to confine ‘boxing’ to a sport practised generally with fists, often gloved, and illustrated primarily with blows above the waist.” 

[35] The fact that all combatants wore boxing gloves is not determinative….”

After determining that the term was unambiguous in light of the purpose and goals of s. 83, that is to protect the health of the contestants, he stated:

“[42] If Parliament had intended “boxing” to mean

“boxing by fists and other boxing-type maneuvers in the nature of boxing”. s. 83 would be drafted to reflect that.  Defence counsel urges the Court to keep in mind that Muay Thai (Muay meaning “boxing” in the Thai language) is a sport originating in Thailand centuries ago, and that the Court ought not to apply North American standards in interpreting this section of the Criminal Code.  However, the drafters of the Code were undoubtedly familiar with the Greco-Roman origins of the sport, the same root as Canadian boxing, but came to the conclusion that public welfare and order required some limitations to or protections associated with the sport which could best be dealt with by each province.  The title “Fall Brawl” does not immediately bring to mind a sparring match with gloves under Queensbury or similar rules as an exhibition of skill and without any intention to fight until one is incapacitated by injury or exhaustion.

[para43]     The concept of exempting boxing contests between amateur sportsmen where the contestants wear boxing gloves of a certain weight has a clear meaning.  Parliament intended to criminally sanction the actions of every person who promotes a prize fight which is not sanctioned by the regulation of a commission or body appointed by the province, which would ensure reasonable standards of safety for all participants, unless it was an amateur boxing contest, where the boxing gloves of the requisite mass would protect the pugilists from serious harm.

[para44] In sum, “boxing contest” is to be given its ordinary meaning, since the ordinary meaning of the words is consistent with the context in which the words are used and with the object of the Act.  Thus, that is the interpretation, which should govern.”

With this analysis, I am in agreement.  Clearly this subject event was not a ‘boxing contest’ as referred to in s. 83.  Further, while a particular province might, if it wished, proceed to deem it to be such and establish a licencing body, New Brunswick has not.  For these reason, the event does not fall within the exclusions.  

nova scotia mma law

Breaking down the legality of MMA in Canada on a Province by Province basis is an interesting exercise given the strange legislative patchwork various Provinces put together trying to get around the pre Bill S-209 version of the Criminal Code.

Today I address the legality of MMA, both professional and amateur, in Nova Scotia.

As readers of this blog know, the starting point is section 83 of the Criminal Code which makes MMA illegal unless a proper Provincial framework exists.

Section 83(2)(d) gives Provinces the ability to create commissions to regulate MMA and does not appear to be limited to professional MMA.  It specifically gives Provinces the ability to create “an athletic board, commission, or similar body” to regulate MMA so long as the body is “established by or under the authority of the province’s legislature for the control of sport withing the province“.

So what do we have in Nova Scotia?  MMA there, as it presently stands, derives it legal standing under the Boxing Authority Act.  This law created the Nova Scotia Boxing Authority that was tasked to “supervise and regulate boxing in the Province“.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  Boxing is defined as “professional boxing contests or exhibitions, including such entertainment involving the use of fists as is determined to be boxing by the Authority, but does not include amateur boxing unless the context so requires

So, if the sport has “the use of fists” and is determined to be boxing by the NSBA then it is boxing.  The NSBA gets authority under Section 10(L) of the Act to “make regulations determining which entertainment or type of entertainment involving the use of fists is boxing

Digging into the Regulations, the NSBA has adopted “combat sports” as boxing and provided the following definition of what a combat sport is:

(2) In these regulations, “combat sport” means a sport involving full body contact between contestants in which a contestant uses a fist, whether open or closed, or a weapon held in a fist, and includes but is not limited to the following martial arts:

(a) kickboxing;

(b) shootfighting;

(c) karate;

(d) tae kwon do;

(e) jujitsu.

Interestingly,while individual martial arts are mentioned MMA is not.  This can be a problem but the argument would be that the list is non-exhaustive and MMA clearly is “a sport involving full body contact between contestants in which a contestant uses a fist“.  That said, there is no reason why MMA should not be specifically designated.

Perhaps most noteworthy, a fight with ‘a weapon held in a fist” is considered boxing in Nova Scotia and apparently legal under the legislation, who knew?

Another problem here is the regulations go on to set out the Rules for legal boxing.  While MMA can technically be considered boxing under Nova Scotia law, all of the regualations addressing the rules of the sport speak to pure boxing such as requirements that the bout take place in a ring with ropes, at least 8 oz gloves are used, counts for downed boxers, fouls such as using knees, holding an opponent and weresling.  So MMA is legal but the rules of actual boxing apply.

Moving on from these problems, and accepting that MMA is a combat sport (despite the lack of regulated rules) we get to the next hurdle.

The distinction between professional versus amateur becomes important.  The Boxing Authority Act authorizes the Commission to regulate “professional boxing contests or exhibitions…but does not included amateur boxing unless the context so requires“.

This means the NSBA clearly has the authority to regulate professional combat sports.  Section 15 of the Act goes on to allow the NSBA to make regulations relating to amateur boxing.  The only section of the regulations dealing with amateur boxing deal with pro-am cards requiring such bouts to be conducted under the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association.  Since CABA does not regulate MMA Amateur MMA is apparently legally out of bounds in Nova Scotia.

So in short, Pro MMA appears to be legal but  the rules of boxing apply, AMMA is not legal but swordfighting and other professional fights with “a weapon held in a fist” seem ok.  Duel anyone?

BC injury law brain mri image

Earlier this month Brian Stann retired from his successful MMA career due to concerns regarding possible long term implications from traumatic brain injury.

Last week, Cole Harbour MMA fighter TJ Grant committed an equally impressive move in deference to head injury.  He stepped down from his UFC lightweight title shot scheduled next month.  This, despite not being guaranteed another shot at the title by UFC brass.  The reason, a concussive injury sustained in practice with lingering post concussive issues.

In the personal injury world I’ve seen my share of post concussive issues and the lingering consequences these injuries can bring.  Listening to TJ Grant’s interview with Ariel Helwani is worth digesting to in full to gain insight into the difficulties one can have recovering from a concussion and the minor exertions that can create significant setbacks.

As previously discussed, it is now well understood that combat athletes often sustain some of the worst trauma through training, not only by being exposed to possible concussions but through the accumulation of multiple sub concussive blows.  TJ Grant should be commended not only for his personal sacrifice in the name of his health but for being an example to all combat sport participants that brain health should not be sacrificed for short term gain.

Saskatchewan MMA law

UPDATE July 30, 2013 – Saskatchewan has apparently played the trump card telling Cities they do not have the authority to regulate MMA. Please click here for details

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Keith Grienke of Top MMA News reports that the City of Weyburn Saskatchewan  “is looking at allowing Alberta’s Central Combative Sports Commission to sanction pro and amateur events in its municipalityy”.  Proposed Bylaw 2013-3275 – Combative Sports Bylaw, which seeks to give MMA a legal framework in Weyburn has passed first reading and is expected to proceed to final reading on August 19.

Assuming this Bill passes into law, is regulating combat sports within the City’s powers or would Provincial legislation be required?  Given that regulating MMA is reportedly not a “top priority” for the Province can cities step up to the plate?

Saskatchewan lacks a formal athletic commission regulating the sport either professionally or on the amateur side.  This makes the sport illegal in the Province given the default position under section 83 of the Criminal Code. However, looking just one Province to the West, Alberta also lacks Province wide regulation and has opted to regulate the sport on a municipal level.

If you look at how municipalities in Alberta have gained the ability to regulate MMA the legal landscape is really no different in Saskatchewan. As previously discussed, cities can derive the authority to regulate MMA and not run afoul of the Criminal Code so long as they get their authority “by or under the authority of the province’s legislature”.  In Alberta cities purport to derive their authority from Alberta’s Municipal Government Act, which allows bylaws to be passed respecting “safety, heath and welfare of people” and also “business activities.

In Saskatchewan, Weyburn gets its legal authority under the Cities Act.  That legislation gives Weyburn similar powers to their municipal neighbours in Alberta including the power to pass bylaws addressing

  • the peace, order and good government of the city;
  • the safety, health and welfare of people and the protection of people and
    property;
  • people, activities and things in, on or near a public place or place that is
    open to the public
  • businesses, business activities and persons engaged in business

If, and the if needs to be stressed, the above framework is sufficient to give cities in Alberta the ability to regulate MMA in compliance with section 83 of the Criminal Code then, as things presently stand, cities in Saskatchewan, including Weyburn, enjoy similar powers.

The only argument I can think of to the contrary is that the Saskatchewan Cities Act does not contain a provision similar to section 535 of Alberta’s Municipal Government Act.  Although this section does not expressly give Alberta municipalities the power to regulate MMA, such a power is strongly implied  under section 535(1)which limits the liability of Municipal Commissions that choose to regulate combat sports in Alberta.  Other than this minor difference Saskatchewan cities are likely on the same legal footing as their neighbors to the West if they choose to pass bylaws regulating MMA.  If this bylaw passes final reading and there is no interference from the Provincial legislature that will be a strong signal Saskatchewan MMA will likely be heading to a local government model of combat sports regulation.

murray rankin image

As recently reported, it is rumored that the BC Government is considering regulating amateur boxing along with other combat sports on the programme of the IOC.   Not all stakeholders are pleased with this development.  Canadian Member of Parliament Murray Rankin is among those.

Murray recently cautioned BC’s Minister of Sport about their rumored plans.  I have been provided with a copy of his e-mail which was sent to BC’s Minister of Sport last week.  It is unknown whether this has influenced any plans the BC Government has for amateur combat sports in the Province.   As previously discussed, now is the time for all stakeholders to let their views be known to the Government.   Just as Mr. Rankin did, it is important to voice concerns now to help influence the future direction of amateur combat sports in BC as there will certainly be some form of legislative change coming soon.  Here is Mr. Rankin’s e-mail

Dear Minister Oakes

I have been advised that the Province is considering the regulation of amateur boxing and amateur wrestling, apparently on the basis of amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada that were passed in Parliament during the last session.

As a Member of Parliament who participated in the debate on this amendment, I can advise that the legislative intent of the amendments was clearly to address the legality of mixed martial arts (MMA) and kickboxing. I cannot recall any reference to amateur boxing or amateur wrestling.
 
I understand that the amateur boxing community is concerned that your ministry may be considering amendments by which amateur boxers and wrestlers would have to first seek and obtain permission from the Lieutenant Governor in Council or a person or body specified by the Lieutenant Governor in Council to grant such permission. To date, this province has not regulated amateur sports: self-regulation appears to have been effective.

Although “prize fighting” had been outlawed in Canada, a boxing contest between amateur sportsmen wearing gloves of a certain size was deemed not to be a prize fight. As MMA and Kickboxing became popular in Canada, it was recognized that the old definition of a “prize fight” would have to be changed if those participating in the sport were to avoid criminal prosecution. It was to accommodate MMA and Kickboxing that the Criminal Code was changed with section 83(2) being replaced.

This amendment changes the definition of “prize fight” to include an encounter or fight with feet in addition to fists or hands so as include MMA and Kickboxing.

In my view, the notion that a contest between amateur athletes in a combative sport would be captured was not something that was contemplated.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Yours truly
 
Murray Rankin,
Member of Parliament (Victoria)

ufc 161 promo image

All tested athletes have reportedly passed their drug tests following UFC 161.  The Manitoba Combative Sports Commissioner has just released the following brief statement:

The Manitoba Combative Sports Commission had random drug testing conducted at UFC 161 in Winnipeg, Manitoba on June 15, 2013. Ten of the twenty two athletes were randomly tested for performance-enhancing drugs and recreational drugs/drugs of abuse. All ten athletes tested passed with negative test results. No therapeutic use exemptions were granted.

 Thank you

 Joel Fingard

Executive Director

Manitoba Combative Sports Commission

UPDATE – July 18, 2013 – Today Bloody Elbow reports that Dan Henderson did not even apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption for Testosterone Replacement Therapy due to the Manitoba Commission’s requirements for this.  You can click here to access my previous article discussing these strict and sensible requirements.

red tape image

As previously discussed, amateur Boxing, Judo, Wrestling and Tae Kwon Do are presently legal in BC however there is concern that the government is about to get involved in regulating these previously self regulated combat sports due to the powers given to the Provinces by the new section 83 of the Criminal Code.

Andrew Schuck, the former President of Boxing BC, has raised concerns that the Government is going to create legislation which will change the landscape of these sports from self regulating to Provincially regulated sports.   He has shared his submissions to the BC Government with me and I reproduce these in part below.  Whether you share Andrew’s views or not, if you are stakeholder in amateur combat sports in BC now is the the time to let your views be known to the Government to influence any legislative changes which are contemplated.  Here are Andrew’s submissions:

REGULATION OF AMATEUR SPORT – A NECESSITY?

 This submission deals with the concern that the British Columbia Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development  is about to recommend to the Lieutenant Governor in Council that amateur sport in the Province, including amateur boxing, wrestling, judo and taekwando, be regulated. Specifically, many members of the amateur boxing community are fearful that they will be unable to participate in their sport unless they first seek and obtain permission from the Lieutenant Governor in Council or a person or body specified by the Lieutenant Governor in Council to grant such permission. This regulator could be a civil servant, a government commission or a sporting body which, in the case of the latter, would result in the establishment of a sport monopoly.    

This submission sets forth opposition to such a policy and is based on three premises:

Traditionally, British Columbia has not regulated amateur sports preferring to leave it to private associations to govern themselves.

In a democracy government intrusion into the lives of its citizens or their activities is only justified when necessary to serve an important societal interest. Otherwise, British Columbia citizens should be free to pursue their interest in amateur athletics free from government interference or regulation.

Freedom of choice is the bedrock upon which our democracy has been built and it should not be curtailed unless absolutely necessary. Government established monopolies in any field of endeavor should be viewed with suspicion as limiting a citizen’s freedom of choice. This is as true in amateur sport as in any other area of activity.  British Columbians should be able to participate in competing amateur sporting associations free from the compulsion of government appointed monopolies. To do otherwise is to restrict the citizen in his or her association with their fellow citizens. 

Background

The suggestion that British Columbia should abandon its traditional policy of non regulation of amateur sport including amateur boxing has arisen because of recent changes to the Criminal Code of Canada. In turn, these Criminal Code changes have arisen because of the increased popularity of certain non traditional combat sports such as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Kickboxing.

For decades “prize fighting,” (defined as an encounter or fight with fists or hands between two persons) had been outlawed in Canada. However, a boxing contest between amateur sportsmen wearing gloves of a certain size was deemed not to be a prize fight.

The Criminal Code also dealt with professional boxing by extending the exemption to or “any boxing contest held with the permission or under the authority of an athletic board or commission or similar body established by or under the authority of the legislature of a province for the control of sport within the province.”

The old section of the Criminal Code:

83. (1) Everyone who

(a)       engages as a principal in a prize fight,

(b)       advises, encourages or promotes a prize fight, or

(c)        is present at a prize fight as an aid, second, surgeon, umpire, backer or reporter,

 is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

(2) In this section, “prize fight” means an encounter or fight with fists or hands between two persons who have met for that purpose by previous arrangement made by or for them, but a boxing contest between amateur sportsmen, where the contestants wear boxing gloves of not less than one hundred and forty grams each in mass, or any boxing contest held with the permission or under the authority of an athletic board or commission or similar body established by or under the authority of the legislature of a province for the control of sport within the province, shall be deemed not to be a prize fight.

As MMA and Kickboxing were introduced into Canada  it became obvious that the old definition of a “prize fight” would have to be changed if those participating in the sport were to avoid criminal prosecution. It was to accommodate MMA and Kickboxing that the Criminal Code was changed with section 83(2) being replaced.

The new subsection defines “prize fight” as follows:

(2) In this section, “prize fight” means an encounter or fight with fists, hands or feet between two persons who have met for that purpose by previous arrangement made by or for them, but does not include

(a)    a contest between amateur athletes in a combative sport with fists, hands or feet held in a province if the sport is on the programme of the International Olympic Committee or the International Paralympic Committee and, in the case where the province’s lieutenant governor in council or any other person or body specified by him or her requires it, the contest is held with their permission;

(b)   a contest between amateur athletes in a combative sport with fists, hands or feet held in a province if the sport has been designated by the province’s lieutenant governor in council or by any other person or body specified by him or her and, in the case where the lieutenant governor in council or other specified person or body requires it, the    contest is held with their permission;

(c)    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; and

(d)   a boxing contest or mixed martial arts contest held in a province with the permission or under the authority of an athletic board, commission or similar body established by or under the authority of the province’s legislature for the control of sport within the province.

This amendment changes the definition of “prize fight” to include an encounter or fight with feet in addition to fists or hands so as include MMA and Kickboxing. However, it does not include a contest between amateur athletes in a combative sport if the sport is on the programme of the International Olympic Committee and in the case where the province’s lieutenant governor in council or any other person or body specified by him or her requires it, the contest is held with their permission. Non IOC combative sports are exempt from the prohibition against prize fighting only if they are designated or permitted by a provincial Cabinet and permission has been obtained for a contest.  British Columbia’s Lieutenant Governor in Council has not stipulated, by an Order in Council or otherwise, that any amateur sporting event needs its permission. It has not specified that the permission of any other body is required.  

TRADITIONAL AMATEUR SPORTS

Amateur boxing, and certain other combat sports such as wrestling, judo and taekwondo are included in the Olympics and, as British Columbia does not yet require an IOC sport to seek its permission, these sports are perfectly legal and comply with the amended S. 83(2) of the Criminal code.  At present their athletes require no permission from any government or governmental appointed body to participate in amateur contests. The province is not obliged to take any action in regard to these IOC sports and can simply allow the status quo to continue. There is no compelling reason to do otherwise. None of these sports gave rise to the concerns which led to the federal amendments.

 However, amateur MMA and Kickboxing are not part of the IOC program and are caught by the Criminal Code amendment. MMA and Kickboxing are not and will not be legal until British Columbia passes an Order in Council designating these amateur sports and they obtain permission to engage in contests from the cabinet or some person or body authorized by it to grant this permission. Accordingly the Province could so designate MMA making the sport legal and requiring it to seek permission for its contests. The danger is that the Province could so designate amateur boxing subjecting it to government control when none is needed.

The Criminal Code Amendments were created to deal with non traditional sports such as amateur MMA and Kickboxing. Other amateur sports such as boxing, judo, wrestling and taekwondo are participants in the IOC programme, were not the object of the Amendments and are perfectly legal. British Columbia can and should leave these sports to govern themselves.

Regulation of amateur sport, save for MMA and Kickboxing either directly or through an appointed agency is unnecessary and serves no social need. Other traditional amateur sports in the Province including hockey, swimming, football, hockey and fencing remain self-governing. Amateur boxing and other OIC sports should remain self-governing as well. Nothing in the recent amendment to the Criminal Code requires a change.

There are good grounds to believe that the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development will recommend to the B.C. Cabinet a change in British Columbia’s traditional policy of non interference in amateur sport. The Ministry will invite the Cabinet to require that all amateur combat sport, regardless of whether it is part of the OIC programme, to obtain the permission of the Cabinet or a person or body specified by the Cabinet before it can hold an amateur contest. This will apply to the traditional OIC sports of boxing, wrestling, judo and taekwondo.   

We have been advised by the ADM of Sport that the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development will recommend to the Cabinet that it pass an Order in Council that existing Provincial Sports Organizations (PSO’s) be specified as the body from whom permission must be obtained before an amateur combat contest can be held. If this recommendation is adopted, the effect will be to establish a monopoly in those traditional self-governing sports. While PSO’s are common for funding purposes they do not control or regulate an entire sport in the province. Soccer BC exists but it does not control soccer be3yond its own members so people in a neighbourhood can organize their own soccer team and play against another team without any involvement of the PSO. This is true of all amateur sports in BC. Government appointed monopolies will be bad for all amateur sport and serve no societal need. This fanciful concept has arisen from the minds of a few civil servants in the Ministry of Sport with no request from either the Federal Government or the amateur sporting community.

In British Columbia there are two amateur boxing associations – Boxing BC and Combsport. The existing PSO is Boxing B.C. The two organizations are both incorporated not for profit societies, have their own boards of directors, follow the rules of Boxing Canada and put on their own shows. They exist side by side which allows athletes, coaches and officials the choice of which organization to which they want to belong. Nothing in the recent Criminal Code amendment requires a change.

Not only is the creation of a monopoly offensive as restricting a citizen’s right to free association but it can lead to incongruous results. Combsport has more members than Boxing BC, more trained and qualified referees and officials, more clubs, more boxers, more coaches and puts on each year more contests. Combsport neither asks for nor receives any money from the BC Government or the tax payer. Combsport was formed because many members of Boxing B.C., official, coaches and athletes, were dissatisfied with the manner in which the PSO operated. Should British Columbia now adopt a policy which will leave these dedicated sports people with no alternative but to give up their sport or return to the organization which they, for their own reasons, left? Such a result cannot be then intention.

The existence of two amateur boxing organizations can only benefit the sport. Different organizations will have different approaches broadening the choices available to those who wish to participate in boxing and from which athletes, coaches and officials will benefit. Such diversity will produce innovation an example of which is the East Side Boxing Club. This club has adopted an approach unique to Canada.

Its purpose is to establish and operate a boxing club and social services center to train and work with deprived children and youth, particularly urban aboriginal youth and with women who have been the victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. As the Club states, “Our objective is not to produce competitive boxers but to help these young people become confident, law abiding, productive citizens. Our coaches review the school report cards of children and youth, meet with their parents and if necessary bring in counselors. We will provide private office space at the gym for study. First, they study and then they box. In addition to teaching boxing skills our coaches emphasize civic values and a sense of community. Boxing is simply a tool to achieve a much broader objective.” The East Side Boxing Club determined that it could best achieve its objectives through Combsport. Another club might find it can achieve its very different objectives through Boxing BC. The entire sport benefits by having freedom of choice.  

Lastly, before such a policy recommendation is made into law there should be extensive consultation with the stakeholders. This has not happened.

Yours truly,

 Andrew P. Schuck

Former President of Boxing B.C., coach and a boxing aficionado.

grande prairie city logo

As previously discussed, the now overhauled section 83 of the Criminal Code does not in and of itself make MMA legal across Canada, it allows Provinces to make it legal on a Province by Province basis.  The default is the sport remains illegal.  It requires Provincial regulation.  This needs to happen for both professional and amateur contests.  The landscape on the professional side is more mature.  The amateur side, however, remains the biggest problem.

I previously highlighted issues on the amateur side in British Columbia, Calgary and Ontario.  The latest fallout on the amateur side comes from the City of Grande Prairie.

Top MMA News reports thatall ammy fights have been cancelled for Xcessive Fighting Championship on September 3rd due to Bill S-209“.

This is not surprising since the Grand Prairie Combative Sports Bylaw falls short of the legislative mark to allow amateur MMA to be legal in the City.  The legal breakdown is similar to the drilldown I provided for Calgary AMMA which you can find here.

The Bylaw does not give the commission the authority to regulate “Amateur Combative Sports Events“.  Since Alberta presently chooses to regulate MMA, both professional and amateur, on a municipal level, local governments must pass clear legislation addressing the legality of each otherwise the sport remains illegal by default due to section 83 of the Criminal Code.

I’ve reached out to the Grande Prairie Combative Sports Commission for commentary on AMMA in their City and any plans to overhaul their bylaw to address this legal gap.  I will update this post once they reply.