Posts Tagged ‘Bill S-209’

Last year I highlighted BC’s position that professional kickboxing and muay thai events are not allowed under the updated Section 83 of the Criminal Code.  The Senator that drafted the law responded disagreeing with the Province’s narrow interpretation of the law.

Senator Runciman has since taken a stronger stance stating that BC’s interpretation of the law he wrote “defies logic“.  The Senator, in a letter written earlier this year to BC’s Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development states that “It defies logic that some martial arts competitions were deemed legal under the previous boxing-only definition, but are now considered illegal under a definition that permits mixed martial arts“.

This is an important development because if a Court is ever asked to interpret s. 83 of the Criminal Code in deciding the scope of provincial powers to regulate professional “mixed martial arts”, the presiding judge can look to the intent of the law.

Ideally this will prompt the BC Government to revisit their position and consider legalizing professional kickboxing in the Province.  Additionally, this should be persuasive in influencing other Provinces in deciding the scope of their powers in legalizing professional combat sports.  Not all Provinces agree with BC’s position and, given the Senator’s views, a broad interpretation of what “mixed martial arts” entails is likely warranted.

I have obtained a full copy of Senator Runciman’s letter to the BC Government which can be found here:

Senator Runciman Letter to David Galbraith

bill s 209 progress update

There was much celebration in the Canadian MMA Community yesterday with the passing of Bill S-209.  Now that MMA has a legal framework in Canada it is time for stakeholders to get to work with Provincial politicians.

As discussed yesterday, Bill S-209 does not in and of itself make MMA legal across Canada, it allows Provinces to make it legal on a Province by Province basis.  The default is the sport remains illegal.  It requires Provincial regulation.  This needs to happen for both professional and amateur contests.  The landscape on the professional side is largely in place.  The amateur side, however, remains a real problem.

For Provinces such as Ontario, BC, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia the work is largely done on the Professional side.  Quebec and any other Provinces that tried to dance around the old language of s. 83 could use some legislative overhaul to get rid of “mixed boxing” and embrace the actual sport of MMA.  Provinces that regulate the sport on the municipal side such as Alberta and New Brunswick ought to consider province wide commissions to bring in consistency in regulation.

Other Provinces, such as Saskatchewan, can now feel safe in passing legislation to regulate professional MMA.

Professional contests are well and good, but few practitioners make it to the bright lights of the big show.  Most MMA is amateur and this is where participants start.  This is also where the most pressing problem lies.

Will Bill S-209 in place there is no more uncertainty about the legal status of amateur MMA.  It can no longer said to be ‘illegal but tolerated’.  Unless the sport is put  “on the programme of the International Olympic Committee” every amateur contest will remain illegal unless Provinces specifically pass laws that permit or designate the legality of amateur MMA.  This framework is largely lacking.

I have written to BC’s minister of sport Bill Bennett who has agreed to discuss this with me.  I am following up with him and keep this site updated with any progress.  I urge other fans and stakeholders of MMA to contact your appropriate Provincial politicians to see that proper legislative frameworks are being put into place.

A brief update for those of you who have been following my concerns regarding Bill S-209 potentially criminalizing currently lawful amateur martial arts contests.

As previously reported, BC’s Minister of Sport has responded to my concerns and is aware that appropriate Provincial legislation will need to be introduced if/when Bill S-209 passes.  I am pleased to report that the Federal Minister of Justice’ s office will also review my concerns.  Below is my exchange with the Honourable Senator Bob Runciman’s office.  I will write a further update once I have the reply of the Federal Minster of Justice’s office.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mr. Raison, thank you for your reply.  I look forward to hearing from you once the Minister of Justice’s office has a chance to review this.

 My concern is that amateur contests (such as Karate and other non-Olympic martial arts) become outlawed with the proposed amendment unless Province’s specifically intervene and designate such contests as being appropriate.  This can leave many martial arts contests behind.  I can appreciate that this is not the goal of the Bill but such an interpretation appears correct.  As Minister Chong’s letter indicates, there would be a gap on the Provincial side in BC which would need intervention if Bill S-209 passes in its current form and I imagine the same would be true for other Provinces.

 Thanks again for looking at this concern.

 Yours truly,

Erik Magraken

 _______________________________________________________________________________________________

From: Raison, Barry [mailto:raisob@SEN.PARL.GC.CA]
Sent: August-20-12 6:55 AM
To: Erik Magraken
Subject: RE: Bill S-209 and Provincial Implications

 

Mr. Magraken,

 

It is not our view that the bill does what you believe it does. The province can delegate the authority for oversight under the bill, as they do now. You should also note that this bill, although not a government bill, is nearly identical to the former Bill C-31, a government bill from the 2nd session of the 40th Parliament.

 

Nonetheless, I am forwarding your concerns to our contact in the Minister of Justice’s office.

 Barry Raison, Policy Advisor,

Office of the Honourable Senator Bob Runciman,

351 East Block, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A4

613-943-4020 (phone)

613-943-4022 (fax)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

 From: Erik Magraken 

Sent: Friday, August 17, 2012 5:15 PM

To: Raison, Barry
Subject: Bill S-209 and Provincial Implications

 Senator I wrote last month but have not had a reply, I thought it would be prudent to follow up.

 First off, thank you for your work on Bill S-209.  I welcome this legislation.

 I write to raise a concern with respect to Provincial implications on the amateur level.  The legislation, in its present wording, will work to criminalize amateur provincial contests by default unless each Province enacts an appropriate regulatory body.  Many Provinces, including my home Province of BC, don’t have such a body.

 I have raised this concern with BC’s Ministry of Sport and they advise they are aware of the issue.  You can see the Minster’s response here:

 http://canadianmmalawblog.com/2012/07/20/provinces-must-make-sure-your-karate-kid-does-not-become-a-criminal-under-bill-s-209/

 I write to suggest that other Provinces be made aware of this issue so they can take appropriate steps to regulate Amateur contests given that your Bill appears well on its way to becoming law.  Any steps your office can take to achieve this would be appreciated.

 Yours truly,

Erik Magraken 

 

 

 

Following Bill S-209

Posted: July 18, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags:

I’ve previously discussed Canadian Bill S-209 which will lay the groundwork to legalize MMA in Canada.

For those of you who wish to track the progress of this Bill you can do so by clicking here.

I have been tracking the progress of Senate bill S-209 which will formally legalize regulated MMA in Canada.  It has now passed the Committee Stage and passed Third Reading on June 22, 2012 making the Bill very close to becoming law.

The Bill has remained intact in its initial form with only one minor variation changing line 14 of its text to decriminalize amateur contests that are on the Programme of the IOC and also adding contests on the Programme of the “International Paralympic Committee”.  A list of these can be found here.

The changes do not fix the concerns I previously raised about Bill S-209 potentially criminalizing various amateur contests.  Provinces will need to address this on a Province by Province basis.  I am advised that appropriate measures are in the works in BC and that details of these will be provided to me shortly.  I will write further on this topic once I have further details.

I’ve recently written about the Federal Government’s effort to modernize the Criminal Code to permit MMA and other Striking Sports to become lawful.

While this amendment will allow the sport to be properly regulated on a Professional level, review of the legislation appears to create a potential gap on the amateur side. The reason being that “prize fights”, including MMA and other martial arts contests, will become illegal on the amateur side unless one of the following 3 exceptions apply:

(a) if the sport is on the programme of the International Olympic Committee (Note many martial arts, including MMA, are not)

(b) if the sport has been designated by the Province’s lieutenant governor in council or by any other person or body specified by him or her, or

(c) if the contest is held “in a province with the permission of the Province’s lieutenant governor in council or any other person or body specified by him or her.

Currently I am not aware of any BC legislation setting out a list of designated or permitted amateur contests.  Under the current Criminal Code language this is not needed as amateur contests are exempt from criminalization where “the contestants wear boxing gloves of not less than one hundred and forty grams each in mass”.  However, given the proposed re-wording it appears amateur bouts without a specific designation may unintentionally become outlawed.

The passage of the proposed federal legislation may unintentionally criminalize otherwise lawful amateur contests on a Province by Province basis.  The solution will be for the various Provinces to be aware of this and make appropriate designations on the Provincial level.

Despite a relatively long history of hosting professional MMA bouts, inlcuding several high profile UFC contests, professional MMA bouts presently are illegal in Canada.  This is so due to the outdated language of section 83 of Canada’s Criminal Code which makes it an offence to engage in a “prize fight” except in limited circumstances.

Currently Section 83 of the Criminal Code reads as follows:

Engaging in prize fight
  • 83. (1) Every one who
    • (a) engages as a principal in a prize fight,
    • (b) advises, encourages or promotes a prize fight, or
    • (c) is present at a prize fight as an aid, second, surgeon, umpire, backer or reporter,

    is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

  • Definition of “prize fight”(2) In this section, “prize fight” means an encounter or fight with fists or hands between two persons who have met for that purpose by previous arrangement made by or for them, but a boxing contest between amateur sportsmen, where the contestants wear boxing gloves of not less than one hundred and forty grams each in mass, or any boxing contest held with the permission or under the authority of an athletic board or commission or similar body established by or under the authority of the legislature of a province for the control of sport within the province, shall be deemed not to be a prize fight.

The Government of Canada has introduced legislation to modernize the definition of exempt “prize fights” to include properly sanctioned MMA events.  Specifically Bill S-209 seeks to make the following changes:

2) In this section, “prize fight” means an encounter or fight with fists, hands or feet between two persons who have met for that purpose by previous arrangement made by or for them, but does not include
 
 
(a) a contest between amateur athletes in a combative sport with fists, hands or feet held in a province if the sport is on the programme of the International Olympic Committee and, in the case where the province’s lieutenant governor in council or any other person or body specified by him or her requires it, the contest is held with their permission;
 
 
(b) a contest between amateur athletes in a combative sport with fists, hands or feet held in a province if the sport has been designated by the province’s lieutenant governor in council or by any other person or body specified by him or her and, in the case where the lieutenant governor in council or other specified person or body requires it, the contest is held with their permission;
 
 
(c) a contest between amateur athletes in a combative sport with fists, hands or feet held in a province with the permission of the province’s lieutenant governor in council or any other person or body specified by him or her; and
 
 
(d) a boxing contest or mixed martial arts contest heldin a province with the permission or under the authority of an athletic board, commission or similar body established by or under the authority of theprovince’s legislature for the control of sport within the province

In short this proposed legislation will allow Provinces to regulate both professional and amateur “Prize Fights” which will specifically include MMA.  Currently the Bill is being debated before the Senate.  You can click here to read the Senate’s news release over these hearings.  You can access webcasts of these meetings here and here.