Archive for the ‘Bill 50’ Category

The Prestige Fight Club found themselves entangled in Canada’s criminal justice system after hosting an unsanctioned MMA event last year in Saskatchewan.

Following the event Criminal Charges were laid against two individuals involved for hosting an illegal prizefight contrary to section 83 of Canada’s Criminal Code.  In response the individuals charged sued the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Martial Arts Association, alleging that the SMAA was abusing its powers of oversight of amateur MMA in the Province.

In a press release issued today by Prestige, both the criminal and civil cases have reached a compromised end.  The Criminal charges ended by way of a conditional discharge (meaning a finding of guilt is made but no conviction is registered so long as the judicially imposed conditions are met.)   The conditions are reportedly to keep the peace for 90 days and further a charitable donation in lieu of a fine for several thousand dollars.  The Civil suit has apparently been dropped as well as part of the plea bargain reached with the Government.

It is also rumoured that the Province will strip the SMAA of their ability to oversee amateur MMA in the Saskatchewan.

The full press release reads as follows:

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Prestige Fight Club MMA is happy to announce that they have reached a deal with the Saskatchewan Government in regards to charges laid in conjunction with Prestige’s September 28th, 2013 event. Charges stemmed from a new law created with the passing of Bill 209. Prestige Fight Club and the Saskatchewan Government have agreed that a conditional discharge would be in the best interest of all parties involved, thus best thing for the advancement of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the Province.
Presiding Judge Kovatch , states he felt at no time did Prestige intentionally or maliciously try to break the law.

“We feel this is a huge victory for Prestige and for MMA” says Cord Crowthers who, along with Derek Daku, is a founding partner in Prestige Fight Club MMA. Crowthers states, “We have always felt that, if outside observers were given a chance to examine the facts, common sense would prevail and it would be obvious that no malicious intent was meant and no laws were premeditatedly broken.”

The discharge opens up the door for all promotors to move forward on a level playing field, and sets the stage for Prestige to apply for their license to host Saskatchewan’s first all Professional MMA event.

“We want to bring the best possible talent to the fans of Saskatchewan” says Daku. “That means from fighters from Saskatchewan, other parts of Canada and from around the World.” Crowthers goes on to say, “The Prestige Brand will be one of the biggest stages in Canadian MMA, and is looking to give the fans more than they could ever expected from an MMA event here at home!”

The second part of the deal is to start fresh and Crowthers & Daku have taken the initiative in doing just that by agreeing to stay their law suit against the Saskatchewan Government and the Saskatchewan Mixed Martial Arts Association(SMAA). With the same intent the Saskatchewan Government has ask for Prestige’s input in regards to helping with policy , while forming the new Pro Commission regulations and structure. Crowthers stated that their lawsuit was set in motion because “…we had no other option and our backs were up against the wall with the way events unfolded. This discharge, from all charges, allows Prestige to focus on what’s important and we have full expectations the Government wants the same. The goal now is to bring the best possible product to a very savvy market here in our Province.”

If the rumours are true, in regards to time frames, Prestige Fight Club MMA is looking to host their first professional show by the fall. Crowthers and Daku plan to keep the City of Weyburn as the home of Prestige and to host the Inaugural Professional event at Crecent Point Place.

“The city has been behind us from day one and we plan to show them our gratitude in a big way,” states Crowthers.

Prestige Fight Club MMA has hinted that they will be looking at new markets in Saskatchewan in the near future, but when pressed on whether or not they will look outside the Province, Daku says, “only time will tell.”

 

The BC Government has just published a press release setting a date for the Athletic Commissioner Act to come into force as of May 30, 2013.  The Regulations still appear to be a work in progress.  The gap for kickboxing referenced at the end of the press release is an unfortunate one and hopefully the act will be expanded to cover other combat sports not to mention the gap which will remain on the amateur side.

The text reads as follows:

VICTORIA – Government has approved a regulation setting May 30, 2013 as the effective date for the Athletic Commissioner Act to come into force and for the BC Athletic Commissioner to begin operations, fulfilling a commitment made by Premier Christy Clark.

This new provincial regulatory regime will enhance the safety of participants in professional boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) through consistent regulation. The BC Athletic Commissioner will be responsible for administering a provincial standard of qualifications and safety protocols for all participants and officials through a uniform licensing and permitting framework, and ensuring compliance with the act and its regulation.

The provincial commissioner will replace local commissions (authorized under the Community Charter and the Vancouver Charter) that currently regulate these sports in their communities, thereby providing a more consistent regulatory approach.

Quotes:

Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Bill Bennett –

“There is no question mixed martial arts has rapidly grown into a tremendously popular sport here in British Columbia and across North America. A key priority for this government is to ensure that these activities take place in the safest possible environment. Regulation at the provincial level will also mean that MMA is regulated in a consistent way in all areas of the province. This benefits both participants and the MMA industry.”

Quick Facts:

  • The act comes into force effective May 30, 2013. Local athletic commissions will retain responsibility for boxing and MMA events authorized before May 30, 2013.
  • A process for hiring a commissioner is underway.
  • BC will join Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia in the regulation of MMA and boxing at the provincial level.
  • Professional kickboxing and Muay Thai kickboxing will not be regulated under the Athletic Commissioner Act. They may be added at a later date.

I previously discussed that the BC Government has introduced sensible legislation seeking to create an Athletic Commissioner who will be tasked with regulating professional MMA and other Striking Sports on a Province wide basis.

I am following this matter and today had a chance to review the Government’s comments on the Floor of BC’s Legislature when Bill 50 was first introduced.  For the sake of convenience I reproduce these here:

BILL 50 — ATHLETIC COMMISSIONER ACT

Hon. I. Chong presented a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill entitled Athletic Commissioner Act.

Hon. I. Chong: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill 50 be read for the first time now.

Motion approved.

Mr. Speaker: Continue, Minister.

Hon. I. Chong: This bill would provide for the establishment of a provincial athletic commissioner to regulate and supervise professional boxing, kickboxing and other similar sporting events, including mixed martial arts. Once established, the commissioner’s primary focus would be to ensure consistent application of safety rules for participants in professional contests. This approach will replace local government commissions that currently require and regulate these types of events with a centralized regulatory body ensuring consistency across the province.

This legislation would not apply to amateur sporting contests. The duties of the commissioner would be to ensure a consistent standard of qualifications and safety protocols for all participants and officials through a uniform licensing and permitting framework. It would ensure compliance with the proposed act and its regulations through the use of suspension or cancellation of licences and event permits as well as administrative penalties.

The benefit of having a provincial athletic commissioner would be that every professional boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts or similar event would be subject to the same rules and regulations whether it’s being held in Vancouver, Nanaimo, Vernon or anywhere else in the province.

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Since sports such as kickboxing and mixed martial arts are very popular and are taking place without a consistent regulatory framework, it makes sense to be proactive about creating this position to increase the safety of athletes and officials as well as to provide certainty for communities and the industry.

I move that the Athletic Commissioner Act be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Bill 50, Athletic Commissioner Act, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

I will continue to follow the development of this law and post relevant updates at this blog as they develop.

With Bill 50 expected to become law soon in British Columbia, Professional MMA will benefit from consistent standards Province wide

Once a Provincial Athletic Commissioner is appointed standards will need to be designed that will apply to MMA competitions in BC pursuant to the Commissioner’s obligations under Section 4 of the Athletic Commissioner Act and more specifically pursuant to section 46(2)(m) of the Act.  When setting the standard both fighter safety and industry consistency will need to be taken into account.  Both of these factors point to the adoption of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.

The Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts have been widely utilized over the past decade and have demonstrated good results in protecting fighters.  In perhaps the most comprehensive study into this issue, the 2007 Johns Hopkins Study “INCIDENCE OF INJURY IN PROFESSIONAL MIXED MARTIAL ARTS COMPETITIONS” published in the Journal of Sport Science and Medicine concluded that under the Unified Rules “The injury rate in MMA competitions is compatible with other combat sports involving striking.”. 

Of note, this study highlighted that the vast majority of injuries were of a resolvable nature (with facial lacerations making up nearly 50% of the reported injuries) and that traumatic brain injury rates were far lower than in regulated professional boxing noting the following “As opposed to professional boxing, MMA competitions have a mechanism that enables the participant to stop the competition at any time.  The “tap out” is the second most common means of ending an MMA competition…(which) is thought to help explain a knockout proportion in MMA competitions that is almost half of the reported 11.3% of professional boxing matches in Nevada

Moving on to consistency, there is certainly no greater accepted standard for MMA contests in North America than the Unified Rules.  With the Association of Boxing Commissions unanimously adopting this standard in 2009 BC’s MMA Regulations will have little reason to go outside this standard.

Last but not least, if the purpose of this legislative overhaul is to court the UFC back to British Columbia, giving the UFC the fighting regulations they are most familiar with certainly makes sense.

Leaving aside the fact that professional MMA is currently technically illegal in BC, an additional problem is that professional MMA events in British Columbia are subject to inconsistent regulatory requirements.

The reason being that local municipalities are allowed to form their own Athletic Commissions based on the power given to the them by section 143 of BC’s Community Charter (or in the case of Vancouver by Part XIX of the Vancouver Charter).

Fortunately, the Provincial Government has taken a meaningful step to remedy this with the introduction of Bill 50.  This Bill, introduced earlier this week in the Legislature, seeks to create a Province-wide Athletic Commissioner who will be responsible for the following:

(a) the regulation and supervision of professional contests or exhibitions in accordance with this Act and the regulations;

(b) licensing and permitting under this Act;

(c) the enforcement of this Act and the regulations.

Importantly, section 50 of the Bill specifically speaks to repealing the power of Vancouver and other municipalities to create their own athletic commissions.

In short this will replace the myriad of different regulations local municipalities have created for professional MMA fights.  This will create consistency which will benefit both participants and hosts of these events.

It is worth noting that Vancouver, while being stripped of the ability to create their own Athletic Commission, will still retain the right to veto MMA events if they wish because the Vancouver Council will be given the discretion to “prohibit a professional contest or exhibition, including a professional contest or exhibition for which an event permit is required under the Athletic Commissioner Act.”

I should note that as of today’s date this Bill is just that, a Bill.  It has not formally become law although Third Reading is expected shortly.  I will provide an updated post once this Bill becomes formal law.