Canadian Football Act

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The Canadian Football Act (1974) was a proposed Act by the Parliament of Canada in April 1974 designed to give a government-protected monopoly over professional football in Canada to the Canadian Football League. Although it was never signed into law, the move by the government eventually compelled the World Football League's Toronto Northmen, a team that was originally set to play in Toronto, to move to Memphis, Tennessee in the United States as the Memphis Southmen.

Today, there is speculation that a similar act will develop if the National Football League tries to expand to Toronto and thus threatens the Canadian league's existence.[1] Yet likely it would still allow for an NFL team to play in Canada in an NFL preseason game and the CFL's off season; thus allowing for a Canadian city to host the Super Bowl in the unlikely event that the NFL ever decided to host their premier event in a non-NFL city.

It is also unlikely than any future act will be passed to ever effect American college football, such as the NCAA and NAIA, who have or have had teams based in Canada and bowl games hosted in Canadian cities, with no opposition, in part because the CFL draws part of its players from American College teams as well.

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  • Designated C-22.
  • Introduced by the Minister of Health, Marc Lalonde.
  • Claimed it would try and protect the Canadian Football League, would allow the CFL to grow and develop its own distinct character
  • Of the mayors of the nine CFL cities at the time, only three were against the Canadian Football Act. They were the mayors of Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, also the biggest cities of Canada then and now, with two of them hosting teams from leagues that played a different code of football. Montreal played host to one of the World League of American Football teams, the Montréal Machine, in the early 1990s after their CFL team folded in the late 1980s. Toronto were hosts to an Arena Football League team for two seasons, the Toronto Phantoms.
  • After the bill passed second reading in the Canadian House of Commons, it was given to the Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs, where it effectively died after the Northmen moved to Memphis.
  • Clause 6 in the act stated that no person that owns, operates, or manages a team in a league foreign from the CFL shall play in Canada. Subsection 2 stated that no player or member of the said team shall play in Canada, therefore if the bill passed and became law, it would effectively kill teams like the Northmen.

These facts were gathered from the actual debates held in the House of Commons from April 10 to April 28, 1974.

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