First; there are 2 local Forums that are worth mentioning here, that have helped keep the public informed, and fight for our rights, respectively: RHD Quebec and the Import Vehicle Owners Association of Canada. Both have the full story in every detail in their sticky threads, along with links to the PDF for the study etc...
Edit: Since publishing this article GTRCanada has now started an RHD legal sub-forum filled with lots of information as well: GTR-Canada ~ Subforum for RHD Legal Information
As I understand it, in our case, federally we are allowed to import any car that was not originally offered on Canadian soil, only 15 years after the date of manufacture. But now some of the provinces started acting out against federal law, like in B.C. how the ICBC study really made life difficult for people out there.
Anyway, now our own provincial government passed a law practically overnight a few years back, and gave zero prior notice to the public or those it may affect, they put a moratorium on the registration, of un-inspected right hand drive cars. So that specifically meant that if your car had a license plate already, you're fine, if you don't have a plate yet, you'll never ever get one. Pointe Finale, as they say.... or so it would seem.
And what about the people who have cars and may be waiting to get inspected? Even those who had appointments for inspections days after the announcement would not be able to get plated! So their cars make excellent paper weights now.
In Montreal alone there are 16 different "JDM Shops" that sell all kinds of imported vehicles, Supra's, WRX's, Evo's, 300ZX, Silvia's, and of course Skylines. How many of them must have had cars in transit that were already purchased, which they will not be able to sell here. No Warning was given to them, they attempted to band together, they hired a lawyer paid like a $50,000 retainer amongst 8 of the shops, and the lawyer then said, "Ok, we can beat this, but its going to be really expensive, to the tune of $1,000,000" which meant, the lawyer did some research, found out who they would be up against, and thats how much they would fight this he figures.
The reason we couldn't get our cars plated was a technicality that came from the wording of the law, really they were banning the inspection of RHD vehicles, which meant it had nothing to do with safety, or emissions or anything like that from a legal perspective, it must be that their inspectors are not able to properly evaluate a car that has a steering wheel on the right hand side. This meant that this little sticker here, is your go free pass, if you have one on your front window already, you're golden.
|SAAQ Inspection "Vignette"|
Its a hundred something dollars for the initial inspection, and the list is about a hundred points long, they usually fail most cars at least once, if not twice, and they offer to fix up your car for you, at an inflated rate compared to a regular mechanic anywhere else. Then its another $70 something every time for re-inspection. But thats where it gets complicated, if you fail the first time, then you have a limited number of days before your car cannot be registered ever again, and the title must be scrapped. So this forced inspection is serious business, especially for those who have cars that they may not be able to get a part in time to pass inspection! Those driving imported vehicles...
The government initially set a date of one year, at which point they would "Consider" whether to make the law permanent or not, the first year passed and they still didn't decide, (all the while no one can plate their cars... but hey! hold on to them still, because we maaaay allow them soon!). They decided to extend the ban for yet another year and this time conduct a study. They conducted a biased study on RHD cars, comparing them to classes of other cars that were not even close to the same class. They achieved some inflated numbers, and decided "thats it! no more RHD cars will be allowed registered here". Those who had plates are now on "grandfather" status, which is fine for now I guess.
Their only claim for wanting to ban them was because they were cheaper, yet a lot more powerful, younger kids were getting them, and crashing and killing people. That's like saying Motorcycles are dangerous so we're not going to allow them anymore... Oh wait! they essentially did do that when they tripled the registration fee for motorcycle license holders.
What ever happened to the peoples' choice? I thought we were at least smart enough to decide for ourselves if we are capable of driving a certain type of car or not, and if not then at least we could consider a compromise where by we must pass a "driving test" for RHD vehicles? I know I'd pass just fine, as so would everyone else I know who owns one.
So if they weren't banned for safety reasons, then why would somebody, put up a Million dollar barrier on this law, who could be that deeply invested in it? As you suggest as well, some local media were suggesting the car dealerships were getting hurt business-wise.
But this was also just around the time as the economy was slowing down, and we were heading into the recession, and people were not buying cars, so of course it makes sense to pay less and get more for your money by buying an imported vehicle. But the dealer's complained, and pointed at charts with dropping line graphs screaming "it's RHD's fault, they're stealing our business, offering higher quality, better reliability, more performance and power, at a much lower price! We just can't compete with that" But honestly, I doubt thats even the case, the type of people who would buy an RHD car, is not necessarily the same type of person who may have otherwise bought a new car. They're two separate groups.
Anyways, I suppose that stopped new cars from coming in, but what were they to do about all the thousands of us, RHD cars already plated and on the road?...
Well, it wasn't long after that, when the environment minister of Quebec suggested starting emissions testing for cars 15 years or older, funny how that's also the same number of years for the import law. I'm not saying they're definitely related, but that is some sort of coincidence. She was even as harsh as to suggest that failing an emissions test would prove a vehicle unfit to be on the roads. To this day, nothing has been enacted from the environment minister's office, and we keep our fingers crossed.
This is a beautiful province, with a fantastic life style, but man are some of the laws unusual, such as the whole "turning right through a red light "situation. It used to be it was illegal everywhere in Quebec. Then people complained and said that was stupid, so they changed it! Now, you can turn right on a red light, everywhere... Except! - on the island of Montreal. That makes sense... anyways, I digress with the red light thing, but what I'm really trying to say is; I just find it hard to believe that they would go through all this, passing law's in the middle of the night, targeting one specific type of vehicle, costing their own citizens and businesses millions in lost assets and potential sales, and there was no public provocation for this, it's not like there's a group of angry elderly citizens out there saying "stop RHD vehicles". But the pressure is coming from somewhere, we know that for sure!
For now, we stay banded together, and we'll continue to fight, to hold on to our Skylines, our Supras, our Evo's and our WRX's. Hopefully one day, we may live in a more free-market based society.
On that note, I'm left feeling a little nostalgic, and down trodden, so I present for our amusement, one of my favorite Skyline videos, it's short, but sweet:
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