I have uploaded all correspondence relating to this issue:
- Several emails to the Government of Alberta (with relatively uninformative replies)
- Letter sent to the Ambassador of Canada to France in Paris via post
- Letter sent to the Ambassador of France to Canada in Ottawa via post
While these types of agreements undoubtedly require the cooperation of the licence-issuing institutions (in this case, the French government and Alberta’s Ministry of Transportation), I lack the knowledge and linguistic skills to contact the French government directly in a way that will be likely to produce a response. Instead, I have contacted the offices of the ambassadors of the two countries to each other. These positions likely play no role in the actual negotiation of exchange agreements (especially in Canada, as the governments of Alberta and Canada are not the same), but they may have some involvement in pushing to initiate the process of drafting the agreements. In a News Release from the Ontario web site discussing an exchange agreement between Ontario and Australia, quotes are included from the Minister of Transportation of Ontario, as well as the Australian High Commissioner (the title used for ambassadors between Commonwealth countries) to Canada, meaning that these parties have some level of involvement in the issue.
I suppose that Alberta’s Minister of Transportation is the only person I whom I have yet to contact.
This is a perfect time to bring up an interesting part of Australia’s issuance of licences. Australia is one of the few places in the world, along with Canada, the United States, and the UK (sort of), where driving licences are issued by subnational governments, meaning that there is no such thing as a United States or Canada driving licence (that would be way too simple!), just licences issued by the subnational jurisdiction in which you live (e.g. Alberta, New York, Colorado, Ontario, etc.). In most cases, especially in relation to exchange agreements with other countries, this means that each jurisdiction must come up with its own agreements for licence exchanges with jurisdictions abroad, as can be seen on the pages showing Reciprocal Licencing agreements for Alberta and France. However, while Australian licences are issued by subnational authorities, all licence agreements I have seen regarding Australia (involving Canadian provinces and European countries such as France and Germany) list Australia as a single jurisdiction, with no discrimination based on the jurisdiction that issued of the licence. Why is this the case? Are the jurisdictions’ standards so closely aligned that foreign jurisdictions will simply accept all of them or none of them, or does the Australian government simply insist, when creating exchange agreements, that all areas’ licences be included?
The silliness of the situation in Canada is exacerbated when looking at the fact that all Canadian jurisdictions allow for testing- and hassle-free exchange of licences from each other and from all American states. This means that although I may not be able to exchange my Alberta motorcycle with France, I can visit my brother in New Brunswick (or any other province that exchanges motorcycle licences with France), immediately exchange my licence for a New Brunswick licence by showing proof that I am in the province, and then take that licence with me to France when it shows up a week later. For the cost of the licence exchange in Canada, I would have effectively circumvented the system to exchange my Alberta motorcycle licence, for a tiny fraction of the cost of going through the licence testing in France.