Do the SMAA’s Licencing Policies Violate Canadian “Mobility Rights”?

As the Government appointed body tasked with amateur MMA regulation in Saskatchewan the SMAA is an agent of Government and must ensure that they operate with legal protections in mind including those set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Unfortunately one of the SMAA’s policies appear to run afoul of these protections, specifically their policy for event sanctioning.

In order to receive event sanctioning for amateur MMA in the Province, a promoter must be an SMAA member.  Among the various requirements for SMAA membership is a term that “applying clubs must have been (in) operation in one location in Saskatchewan for a minimum of one year prior to application.”.  When held up against “mobility rights” guaranteed in the Canadian Charter this clause is troubling when applied to out of Province promoters.

Section 6(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides Canadian citizens and permanent residents with the following protection:

2) Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right

  • (b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.

Section 6(3) of the Charter provides the following limited exception to this guarantee:

(3) The rights specified in subsection (2) are subject to

  • (a) any laws or practices of general application in force in a province other than those that discriminate among persons primarily on the basis of province of present or previous residence

As has been held by Courts interpreting this provision, section 6(2)(b) protects the right of Canadians to pursue their livelihoods in any province even though they may not be residents.  If a Canadian citizen or permanent resident from out of Province wishes to host an amateur MMA event in Saskatchewan the SMAA will prevent them from being licensed unless they first set up a physical operation in Saskatchewan for a minimum of one year.  This is a requirement that can hardly be met without also setting up residence.  The effective reality is to ban any out of province promoters from hosting amateur MMA events.

While the SMAA’s policies are currently being legally challenged, allegations of “mobility rights” violations have not been plead.  If a Court was to scrutinize the the above SMAA policy with the Canadian Charter in mind there is a good chance the SMAA would be forced to overhaul their licensing criteria.

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