FOIP request comes through – Alberta spills the beans on other agreements!

So, after submitting a request as specified under Alberta’s  Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (commonly known as FOIP), I have received a package containing the actual agreements signed with France, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, and Australia.  The individual agreements are available on the page about Alberta’s agreements, or you can read the entire package (PDF, including some discussion with the relevant authorities outside of the actual agreements).

It should be noted that the agreements with Switzerland (signed in 2001) and Northern Ireland (signed in 2012) both specifically address the extra classes present in the European motorcycle licensing system (classes A1, A2, and A).

The agreement with Northern Ireland states that a holder of any Northern Ireland licence who has had that licence for less than 24 months will be placed in the Graduated Driver Licensing program, while a holder of either A1 or A licences who had held that licence for more than 24 months will receive a full Class 6 motorcycle licence in Alberta.

The agreement with Switzerland similarly specifies that any driver who has held a class A1 or A licence for more than two years will receive a full Class 6 motorcycle licence in Alberta.

So, I’ll be sending another correspondence to Alberta Transportation tonight!

Updated list of jurisdictions with which France exchanges licences!

The French government has posted an updated list of jurisdictions with which there are reciprocal agreements in place.  There are a few additions (e.g. Turkey and Swaziland in the all classes category) and modifications to existing agreements (e.g. Senegal has changed from exchanging all classes to just A1 & B) that indicate that the French government seems committed to continuously evaluating the driving standards in the jurisdictions that are included in reciprocal agreements.  See the updated list here.

Uploaded correspondence relating to the issue, and other thoughts

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.

Statistics, oh my!

I went a little bit overboard when finding Immigration Statistics to support the benefits of this request.  Statistics Canada has so much neat information!  It would have been better if they had a chart of immigration by nationality into each province.  Perhaps this is available by contacting Statistics Canada directly!

Previously, I had referenced an article from Ontario stating how the province expects that 375 residents from Australia will exchange their licences in Ontario every year as a result of a new agreement, but then I found the immigration statistics from Statistics Canada.  It’s worth noting that in the year that Ontario signed their exchange agreement with Australia (2010) that predicted 375 licence exchanges, there were under one thousand Australians who settled as permanent residents in Canada.  This figure is absolutely dwarfed by French settlement in Canada as permanent residents, with over 6,200 in 2012, and over 5,800 in 2015.  (Looking at the years from 2006-2015, French immigration into Canada is an increasing trend – links can be found on the statistics page.)

The statistics on the French side of things were much more general, and were only detailed in regards to the countries with the most nationals living in France.  I might be able to get in contact to ask for specifics regarding Canadian immigration.

Until I receive feedback, that’s all for now!

Lots of new content and formatting changes!

  • Changed formatting of Alberta’s reciprocal licence agreements page.
  • Updated France’s reciprocal licence agreements page to include information regarding some Canadian and US provinces that seems to be newer than the French document regarding exchanges.
  • Added a whole new section, “The Case of Alberta and France,” that discusses not the general attitudes of each jurisdiction to reciprocal licensing, but the specific factors that come into play in regards to these two licensing jurisdictions.
    • Subsections include one discussing how the agreements can benefit both jurisdictions, and one discussing the reasons why this exchange agreement might not have included motorcycle licences when it was signed in 2008, and how reasons presented to me by the GoA don’t make sense as they don’t seem to apply to other jurisdictions with motorcycle exchange agreements (mainly, some US jurisdictions).
  • Added a new section to document my communication with governments.  So far, includes queries sent to GoA (and their answers) on December 1 and 5, 2016.
    • Will include letter being sent to the Embassy in Ottawa.  Because all matters with France seem to be federal, and the (seemingly out-dated) exchange list is prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, they seem to be a good contact point for the French side of things… but the French MFA site says that if I’m abroad, I should contact my diplomatic mission.  As I have no idea who would handle this query, as it is a matter between provincial governments and the French public service, the letter shall be addressed to the Ambassador, politely asking to forward it to the relevant entity.

Gosh, this is why I have so little free time… but it is interesting!

Introduction to the blog.

Today, the site has gone live!  As I gather information and update the other pages of the site, the blog page will provide a summary of progress in regards to this project, and will contain some information that does not fit into the other pages.