FIM clash / high drama could mean big changes for Canadian riders and racers
In early 2021, motorcycle magazines across Canada picked up a story that resembles behind-the-scenes motorcycle feuds, at least initially. But if you’re a Canadian pilot, that’s potentially great news; depending on how this issue plays out, it could help Canada get a lot more noticed on the world motorcycle scene. This is especially important for the best runners in the country.
The news: At the end of January, the FIM held a vote on the expulsion of the Canadian Motorcycling Association (CMA) as the country’s national representative. The majority of FIM members supported the vote, but he did not get the percentage required to pass. For this reason, the CMA is still the national branch of the FIM and the competing offer of the Motorcycling Confederation of Canada (MCC) has not been taken into consideration.
Who is who?
First, let’s take a look at all the actors and their roles:
FIM: The FÃ©dÃ©ration Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) is an international motor sports sanctioning body. Basically, the FIM makes and applies the rules for international bikers (MotoGP, World Superbike, Speedway, Super Enduro, etc.). The FIM also establishes guidelines for regional or national motorcycle series that wish to collaborate, through national affiliates. This makes it easier for runners to travel between countries; an American roadracer can go from MotoAmerica to World Superbike without bureaucratic hassle as both are FIM series.
CMA: The CMA is the national branch of the FIM of Canada and has been for many decades. This means that in order for Canadian riders to participate in an FIM series, they must go through the CMA. In addition to sanctioning off-road and road racing competitions at the national level, ensuring that they take place in complete safety and in accordance with FIM guidelines, the CMA also has a role of promoting safety and motorcycle training and motorcycle events at club level.
MCC: The MCC was organized in the mid-2000s when Canadian motorcycle industry insiders became unhappy with the actions and level of activity of the CMA. Currently, an MCC tribunal is mediating grievances for most of Canada’s serious racing series. Currently, MCC members are made up of runners and industry insiders, but MCC plans to introduce a membership plan for average Joe runners.
What really happened in January?
In January, when the FIM held a vote to kick the CMA out of its role, it scheduled a second vote. If the CMA had had the boot, the FIM would then have offered to replace them with the MCC.
It wasn’t a thug attempt by crazy-eyed motorcycle freaks. The representative of the American Motorcyclist Association and other major players in FIM supported him, and he won a majority of 43 to 19 votes. A big loss for the CMA, right? False – FIM rules require a 2/3 majority of all voting members, and 11 members abstained. Therefore, CMA remains the Canadian subsidiary, and the MCC never had a chance.
Why did the vote take place?
Why are FIM insiders and Canadian industry insiders looking to replace CMA with MCC?
This vote is the result of decades of discontent with the CMA. As early as the 1980s, race organizers disagreed with the CMA. The MCC was founded when insiders tried to solve the problems and decided it was easier to start from scratch in the mid-2000s. In recent years, the Canadian Superbike, Triple Crown Motocross and other series began to work with the MCC instead of the CMA. MCC does not exactly sanction races; instead, the series manages its own rules and an MCC tribunal rules on issues that arise between runners and organizers.
The CMA sanctions certain trials competitions and certain ice races, but does not participate in any of the major series in the country. This is a problem if you are a Canadian who wants to run abroad. You might be the fastest MXer in Canada, but you can’t compete in an FIM series without going through the CMA. The red tape is doable, and Canadians are racing internationally, but it is an extra layer of bureaucracy. Also, if you want to race abroad you will need insurance, and FIM insurance is pretty much a given in this case. Again, this is available through CMA in Canada.
The situation also makes it more difficult to organize events like the Motocross of Nations in Canada, if the best riders in the country are not really involved with the CMA. Note that Canada has not had a World Superbike round since 1991. AMA Supercross has not returned to Canada since 2017. To be clear, the AMC does not necessarily bear the blame for these large-scale motorcycle events leaving Canada. But the point is, they are gone, and the National Motorcycle Promotion Organization has not affected their replacement. There is no international motorcycle racing of any kind in Canada. You can’t blame it on a lack of facilities; Mosport might not work for the World Superbike, but the Supercross was racing at the Rogers Center, and Canada certainly has no shortage of hard enduro ground. Rightly or wrongly, insiders say that the CMA is a major reason international racing no longer comes to Canada.
There are other complaints about the CMA. Some say the organization is not doing enough to promote motorcycles locally, or that it is not properly addressing the problems of motorcyclists with rising insurance rates or government restrictions. Again, we have to be fair here: You hear complaints like this about any motorcycle organization or any NGO in general. However, in the case of CMA, these complaints have been around for a very long time.
What happens next?
The MCC was understandably disappointed with the outcome of the January vote, but its organizers quickly released a Press release saying that he would continue his candidacy for FIM affiliation. The organization’s leaders are working to expand the membership of the CMC in the coming months, and the plan is to eventually offer membership to any Canadian rider. This is an important step; if the organization is to represent Canadian motorcyclists, there must be some level of accountability to the motorcyclists themselves.
As for the CMA, she said that things are still going as usual for Canadian riders: âAll services for Canadian riders looking for FIM licensing issues are provided by the CMA as usual, as well as all other FIM tasks. â
The MCC would like to re-emphasize the affiliation issue at the 2021 FIM General Assembly. However, there has been a major change since the January vote.
In March, Marilyn Bastedo retired from her role as CMA; currently, Holly Ralph is the CEO of the organization. Ralph is both a motorcycle owner and rider. She worked with professional Canadian road racing series in the 1980s and is said to own vintage bikes as well. Although I haven’t been able to engage in much of a dialogue with her, she seems to have more respect in the community.
No doubt this change of direction will influence the direction of all this controversy. Over the years, there have been attempts to merge CMA / MCC. With Bastedo gone, will that happen? If so, no one from either side has told me anything about it, but I would expect the FIM to push for it.
But one thing seems certain: thanks to the changes within the MCC and CMA, the current situation will change in the months to come, no matter what. Hopefully, whatever happens next will be a huge improvement for Canadian runners. If MCC follows its plan for a general membership option, everyday runners seem more likely to benefit as well.