Following the legal shake up caused by Bill S-209 which had the practical effect of shutting down MMA and Kickboxing in Moncton, the Province of New Brunswick has now introduced legislation to create a Province wide athletic commission which will legalize and regulate these sports throughout the Province.
Bill 72, the “Combat Sport Act” was read for the first time on April 22, 2014 in New Brunswick’s legislature.
The full text of the bill can be found here: New Brunswick Bill 72
Bill 72 deviates somewhat from the paths other Provinces have taken. I have had a chance to review the legislation and here are some of the highlights:
The Bill seeks to regulate both amateur and professional combat sports.
On the amateur side boxing, judo, karate, tae kwon do and wrestling are ‘prescribed’ combat sports. The list does not include amateur MMA although section 2 allows the government to add MMA and other sports to the list by regulation. The act allows the Government to authorize Provincial Sport Organizations to “approve and regulate” amateur combat sports. Once done these PSO’s will have monopoly powers to oversee their respective sports. Realistically, if a PSO can be formed for amateur MMA in the Province a case can be made to add the sport to the Province’s prescribed list.
The Act carves out one exception to the need for PSO oversight of amateur combat sports, namely the ‘educational institution’ exception. Amateur combat sports can be held without PSO approval in “a school, university or community college…if the event is being held as a part of the institution’s curriculum or extra-curriculum programming“.
On the Professional side, the Act creates a Province wide Combat Sports Commission which will be tasked to approve and regulate events in professional combat sports (with the exception of professional wrestling). Here the act largely mirrors other jurisdictions with a Province wide commission tasked with overseeing “combat sports” which are defined as “a sport in which fighters use striking, throwing, grappling or submission techniques, or a combination of those techniques”. This broad definition clearly captures MMA. The commission enjoys the typical powers such as issuing licenses for events and event participants, and a host of administrative and investigative powers to ensure compliance.
Lastly, section 42 of the Act strips municipal commissions of their powers bringing a Province wide model to the oversight of combat sports in New Brunswick.