Are the Canadian Amateur MMA Championships on a Collision Course With the Criminal Code?

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The Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Championship Series #3 is advertised to take place on February 22 and 23 at Adrenaline MMA Training & Fitness London Ontario.

This amateur Mixed Martial Arts event has ties to the International Mixed Martial Art Federation’s Canadian “Observation Member” (the CNMMAF) with the event promoter stating that “After Ammacs 3, the Advanced League Champions will receive a FREE ride to the CNMMAF Nationals this April“.  As laudable as it is to crown a national champion in AMMA with a goal of growing the sport and competing on a world stage, an important question is can such an event take place in Ontario without breaching the Criminal Code?

Under AMMACS Rules the tournament will be sanctioned by the Ontario Grappling Alliance.  There is one glaring problem with this;  OGA sanctioning does nothing to make an AMMA event comply with section 83 of the Criminal Code.

As readers of this site know, section 83 makes amateur MMA illegal.  Provinces can pass legislation or an Order in Council overturning this ban and setting out how events can be legally hosted.  As of today Ontario still has not passed such a law.  Absent such a law the only way an AMMA event can comply with the Criminal Code is if it is held “with the permission of the province’s lieutenant governor in council or any other person or body specified by him or her“.

If you don’t want to take my word for the OGA’s lack of regulatory power you need look no further than OGA’s own petition asking the Ontario Government to give them the power to regulate AMMA.  In other words, OGA cannot oversee AMMA events in compliance with the Criminal Code and they themselves acknowledge this and are lobbying the government for change.

I have reached out to the Ontario Government on numerous occasions asking for them to overturn their AMMA ban but they have yet to act.  Until Ontario uses their Section 83 powers to legalize AMMA amateur combatants should be weary of a potential criminal prosecution looming in the background (whether the Government chooses to selectively enforce the law is another matter).  I applaud efforts to grow the sport of MMA however this needs to be done within the legal framework that Bill S-209 has provided.  People seeking more opportunities to compete in Ontario would do well to pressure their MLA to pass appropriate legislation.  Participating in AMMA events in the meantime is risky and can trigger the Criminal Code.

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6 thoughts on “Are the Canadian Amateur MMA Championships on a Collision Course With the Criminal Code?

  1. Dear Sir,

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, or if my information is out dated (Ive come across this article a bit late, and I havent been following this topic for years). I used to be involved with the OGA many years ago. Ive had conversations with the police, the OGA, CASK, international representatives, the ministry, the minister, Mr Hiyashi, and everyone in between when s209 was the big headline on the house floor. Bill s-209 passes regulatory powers from the federal to the provincial government, specifically “the lieutenant governor and his appointees” (or similar wording). It does not imply legality or illegality of amateur sports. It redefines prize fighting to be illegal unless blessed by the province. That blessing is NOT recognition as a PSO. PSO status is an approval for funding and only for funding. It is a financial audit. PSO status is definitively NOT a regulatory mandate. These words I heard directly from multiple levels of government.

    These same representatives though it unfortunate that PSO’s were falsely claiming ‘mandate’ from the government to regulate amateur sports in an attempt to bully the public into siding with them out of fear of doing something “criminal”. However, the ministry – as a non regulatory entity – did not want to get involved in policing what the PSO’s were saying. The ministry’s only role is funding.

    What this means is that bill s-209 passed regulatory power to the [ministry of sport]. The ministry refuses to be a regulatory body and has instead acted as a funding body; leaving a legal void of responsibility.

    I have not followed up with my friends at the ministry in almost a year to see if their position has evolved. This article has convinced me to reach out and become re educated.

    If the amateur world championships were illegal (and I think they went off without a hitch), every local karate tournament would be just as criminal – Karate is not an Olympic sport, nor does it have a recognized NSO.

    What are your thoughts?

    Also, as the person that handled much correspondence used to come to, I don’t recognize your name or your questions. I would have gladly had this discussion for hours. I apologize if myself or my successors missed those emails or phone calls or doorbells. We had a lot of work on our plates.

    I like your website. I’ve only gone through a couple pages but it seems well written.

    Best Regards,
    Tarun

  2. Tarun, thank you for your comment. I agree with your observations.

    Ontario’s PSO funding model is far from what s. 83 requires for legal amateur martial arts / MMA. I further agree with your observation about Karate and other non-Olympic martial arts. Ontario needs to craft a statutory response to s.83 to let all residents know which amateur martial arts are legal and if/how they are regulated.

    I have no reason to believe that OGA does a poor job overseeing their competitions. They may do a great job. That is not the issue. The issue is that, as with any contact sport, MMA has inherent risks. If one of these was to manifest at an Ontario amateur contest the technical illegallity would cause a lot of trouble for a lot of people. The Government owes its citizens a legislative response.

    The latest I heard is Ontario is considering this but no concrete steps have been shared with me. Should you follow up with your contacts I would appreciate any details you can share. https://combatsportslaw.com/2014/10/24/ontario-proposes-to-legalize-amateur-mma/

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment and for visiting this site.

    Cheers!

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