Drafter of Bill S-209 Disagrees With BC’s Narrow Interpretation of the Law

Senator Runciman Image

Earlier this month I highlighted BC’s stance that professional kickboxing and muay thai events are not allowed under the updated Section 83 of the Criminal Code.

BC interprets the ability of the Province to regulate pro MMA as excluding the sport’s component parts.  If this interpretation is correct than all of the competent sports that make up MMA (except for boxing) such as Brazilain Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Wrestling are illegal professionally across Canada.  This restrictive interpretation seems inconsistent with Bill S-209’s intent.   The purpose of Bill S-209 was to allow individual Provinces to decide which combat sports would be legal within their respective borders.

If BC’s interpretation is ever challenged in Court the presiding judge will need to look into the ‘legislative intent‘ behind Bill S-209.  What better way to find this out than to ask the man who wrote the law? I reached out to Senator Bob Runciman, the individual who drafted Bill S-209, and asked him if BC’s interpretation is consistent with the law’s intent.  Here is the exchange:


Senator I am a lawyer in BC and keep track of regulatory developments in Canadian combat sports at my Canadian MMALaw Blog.

As you may be aware, BC has taken the position that while Bill S-209 has allowed Provinces to legalize pro MMA and Boxing, they take the position that no other combat sports can be regulated on the Pro level.  You can click here for more on this:


An equally plausible interpretation is that if Bill S-209 allows pro MMA to be regulated all of its component sports can also be regulated (such as kickboxing).

I have read through the Hansard transcripts and can’t find any comments that clearly address this issue.

As the man who drafted the Bill, can you comment on its legislative intent.  Was it designed to allow Provinces to choose which professional combat sports they wish to regulate (ie not just Boxing and MMA, but all the individual martial arts that make up MMA) or was the intent as narrow as BC interprets it.

Your comments will be much appreciated.

Senator Runciman responded as follows:

“Mr. Magraken,

Thank you for your inquiry concerning the legislative intent of Bill S-209 and its consequences for combative sport in Canada. My intent when introducing this bill was to broaden the definition of combative sport to reflect modern realities. I neither intended nor expected that professional sports previously deemed legal by provincial regulators should now be regarded as illegal. Bill S-209 was designed to broaden, not narrow, the scope of legal combative sports.


Senator Robert W. Runciman


Given Senator Runciman’s views it will be interesting to see if BC softens their interpretation and if this will help guide other Provinces in determining the scope of their powers to regulate professional combat sports under S. 83 of the Criminal Code.

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