Mr. Speaker, thank you for informing me about the time. I will do my best to get the seven minutes in. I will take my remaining time at the next sitting.
I am very proud to stand today to offer my support for Bill S-209, an act to amend the Criminal Code (prize fights). The rules governing prizefights have not been updated since 1934, and the current legislation simply does not represent the reality of what is happening in Canada.
In the Criminal Code as it stands, boxing is the only combative sport permitted, and even then, only in certain circumstances. Having this law that we turn a blind eye to is bad on two fronts. First, it can begin to undermine the legitimacy of other laws, which is bad for our legal system as a whole. Second, it creates uncertainty for people who organize or participate in sports such as mixed martial arts, commonly referred to as MMA. It is therefore timely for the House to address the discrepancy between what is written in statute and how the law is applied.
In my opinion, the bill strikes the right balance by allowing provinces and municipalities or designated regulatory bodies, such as an athletic commission, to allow MMA, as defined by the bill, in their territories without breaching the Criminal Code.
What exactly does the bill do? Prizefights would remain illegal in Canada. The bill goes further in defining a “prize fight” by adding “feet” to the definition. It would include fights in which combatants use their feet as well as their fists and hands. The bill then lists four exceptions to the definition of “prize fight”. These exceptions are not “prize fights” but rather are authorized combative sports.
The first is a contest between amateur athletes participating in sports in a program of the International Olympic Committee or the International Paralympic Committee. This exception covers sports including boxing, fencing, Greco-Roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling and tae kwon do.
The second and third exceptions are for contests between amateur athletes in sports designated by a province or a body appointed by a province. These exemptions cover sports such as karate, kick-boxing and mixed boxing, depending on the province.
The fourth and final exception covers professional contests. The bill states that they are exempt from the prizefight ban only if the fight is “held...with the permission or under the authority of an athletic board, commission or similar body established by or under the authority of the province's legislature for the control of sport within the province”.
A number of provinces, such as Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, as well as municipalities such as Edmonton and Calgary, have already acted and have changed their definition of combat sports to allow MMA. By passing the bill, Parliament would simply be updating our legislation to make it consistent with the laws in these places.
It is important to note that no province or municipality, depending on which level of government regulates combative sports in a province, would be obliged to allow MMA. The ultimate choice would still rest with them.
There is significant growth in the popularity of MMA in Canada. Like many Canadians, I spent last Saturday evening watching UFC 159 on TV. UFC events have filled arenas such as the Bell Centre in Montreal and the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, is the largest mixed martial arts promotion company in the world. Georges St-Pierre, one of the biggest stars in UFC and the current welterweight champion, is from St. Isidore, Quebec. He boasts a 24-2 record in MMA and was named Sportsnet's athlete of the year in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
However, while GSP may be the most renowned Canadian in the UFC, he is not the only one. For example, Mitch Gagnon trains in my own riding in Sudbury. After having an 8-1 record in MMA, he recently joined the UFC. His first contest was in July last year at UFC 149 in Calgary, and he recorded his first win at UFC 152 in Toronto last September.
Mitch trains with Team Shredder, which is housed in the Northern Ontario Multi Discipline Athletic Arts Academy in Sudbury. NOMDAAA, for short, trains students in mixed martial arts, tactical Sambo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai kick-boxing, Russian Systema, wrestling, judo and Yu Shin Do, and it offers cardio circuit training and athletic development as well. It has a proven track record of training champions and of ensuring a positive, motivating and fulfilling experience for all students, including me.
I spoke this week with Yves Charette, the owner/operator. They have over 150 students, both adults and children. He is very focused on providing confidence-building for the young children who are participating in many of these martial arts. I know that this is helping my own daughter with confidence.
We talk a lot about anti-bullying programs. When we provide children with confidence, it actually goes a long way in ensuring that bullying at school will not happen. These are some of the things that are important when we are talking about karate or any type of sport in which children can gain confidence. Whether mixed martial arts, hockey, football, basketball or canoeing, if it provides confidence for children, it is doing something right.
NOMDAAA is a not-for-profit organization that has received funding from the chief of police youth initiative fund, which also takes kids off the streets and provides them with training. It gives them something to do with their time and something to learn, which again builds that confidence. I am very proud of what NOMDAAA is doing in Sudbury.
I will save my final piece for next time, but I want to thank organizations such as NOMDAAA and the other amateur athletic groups that are doing great work from coast to coast to coast in this country.
I think this bill will allow us to see it at the professional level and will hopefully inspire kids to get involved and gain confidence.
Mr. Speaker, we lost a labour legend last Friday.
I first met Homer Seguin in 1969 when he was president of Local 6500. He was one of the driving forces behind a workers' day memorial held every year on April 28 for workers killed on the job, which is now recognized in over 80 countries. It was highly symbolic that his death coincided with this year's day of mourning celebrations.
In 1986, Homer and other labour leaders wrote a workers' manifesto. In northeastern Ontario, the regional cancer centre in Sudbury and five workers' health and safety centres in Ontario were only two of the fruits of that manifesto.
He fought passionately for health and safety in workplaces. Homer helped improve working conditions and living standards. He helped expose and correct many occupational diseases in the mining industry. He contributed to the re-greening and cleaning up of the environment in Sudbury.
Homer received an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Laurentian University for outstanding lifetime achievements in the field of health, safety and the environment.
May my friend Homer rest in peace.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to present these petitions signed by numerous members of my constituency of Sudbury. They ask the government to look at protecting consumers from gas price gouging.
The petitioners maintain that gas prices fluctuate erratically, with prices prone to wide variations between communities and sharp spikes in anticipation of higher demand. They are calling on the Minister of Industry to present legislation on behalf of the government to protect Canadian consumers from the high price gouging we are seeing by some gasoline retailers.
The electoral district of Sudbury (Ontario) has a population of 92,161 with 74,228 registered voters and 212 polling divisions.
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