While the Liberal leader appeared to sweep this issue aside, such was not the case for his opposition. Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak stated: “It seems like Premier McGuinty is wrestling with himself.”
He went on to say, “Let’s just get on with it. Forty states allow for mixed martial arts, five other provinces — just direct your minister to make it happen in the province of Ontario. Let’s bring some tourism dollars to our province.”
With an election in the not-too-distant future, can you guess who the coveted demographic of 18-to-35-year-olds may choose to vote for?
McGuinty also stated that, “We have other things on the go right now, and we’ll stay focused on those, whether that’s our tax reforms, stimulating the economy through investments in infrastructure, getting our children better opportunities at the outset.”
Fair enough, but let’s be honest here: the wheels have already been in motion for quite some time to educate his own cabinet, with the vast majority by Zuffa, the owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and the lobbyist firm they hired in 2009, Cassels Brock and Blackwell.
Speaking with Noble Chummar, Zuffa’s legal representation (via Cassels Brock and Blackwell), he assures that all is fine and the efforts to complete the task at hand are moving ahead at a steady pace.
“We are encouraged by the progress we have made thus far,” stated Chummar by telephone.
“We continue to work on ways to educate government officials and those within the cabinet. We fully understand the premier’s recent comments that sanctioning MMA is not at the top of the priority list and nor do we expect it to be.”
While there are those who are deeply entrenched in the MMA universe seeing red right now, McGuinty’s statements were likely a simple reaction to fielding a plethora of questions, none of which had anything to do with MMA in Ontario. By many accounts, the question about the sport in Ontario came out of left field.
And according to Chummar, MMA advocates need to bestow a little more patience on the lobbying process.
“Once the education process shows the economic impact and stability MMA can bring to the Ontario economy, as well as the high standards we recommend for fighter — and consumer — safety at events, I am confident our goal will be achieved.”