The Quebec Association of Military Vehicles (QAMV) was founded in 2019 in the wake of the unilateral change in regulations decided by the S.A.A.Q. concerning the registration of historic military vehicles.

Following an agreement negotiated by the QAMV, military vehicles can once again be registered (and circulate freely) on Quebec roads since May 2020.

Summary from 2019-2020:

In 2019, The S.A.A.Q. has unilaterally chosen to consider as “off-road” vehicles several historic military vehicles that had already been circulating freely on Quebec roads for many years.

Under false pretenses, the S.A.A.Q. targeted owners of certain types of military vehicles and sent them a letter notifying them of an immediate status change to their registration,which suddenly had major restrictions.

Liste SAAQ
The list of “Restricted vehicles” of the S.A.A.Q.

First under the name “Club véhicules militaires du Québec ” (and in connection with the Facebook group of the same name) several owners of military vehicles of Quebec got together to make Minister Bonnardel aware of the monumental error that had been committed !

After officially becoming the “Québec Association of Military Vehicles” (and registered with the Québec Registry of lobbyists) this group of owners engaged in discussions with the Ministry of Transportation of Quebec in order to convince the Minister to correct this injustice.

During our discussions, it became obvious that Minister Bonnardel affixed his signature to the first Ministerial Decree proposed by the S.A.A.Q. in the spring of 2019 without knowing the facts. This is probably the reason why he chose to support us for the next steps.

The S.A.A.Q. claimed that the 1985 Bombardier Iltis which was used by the Canadian army until the beginning of the 2000s was to be limited to roads of 70 km/h or less (and use a “C” plate) as of August 22 2019 because it was not safe; while the 1930 Ford with wooden wheels could continue to benefit from a “Promenade” type registration and circulate without restrictions on the roads of Québec!

Once the Minister was better informed about our vehicles, and once he became aware aware of the regulations in place in other jurisdictions, he asked his representatives to get actively involved to find a satisfactory solution and allow again the safe circulation of military vehicles on Québec roads.

In fact, the representative of the Minister acted as an intermediary for the negotiations between the QAMV and the S.A.A.Q. So after several months of discussions, an agreement was finally reached in January 2020.

Several more weeks (and many more steps) were required to formalize this agreement and transform it into a regulation that would allow us to regain the right to be on the road again without restrictions. The process was finally completed in May 2020 with the publication of a second Ministerial decree.

In the end, military vehicles can once again be registered (and driven without restrictions) on Québec roads.
The process for registering a military vehicle in Quebec can be viewed here

After the summary, the chronology in detail…

Let’s start from the beginning…

The S.A.A.Q. first stated that she was contacted directly by the various manufacturers of military vehicles in the spring of 2019 to inform them that the vehicles they manufactured were intended for “off-road” use only.

This was of course impossible for several reasons. The Bombardier division that manufactured military vehicles no longer exists and we wondered why the manufacturers would have contacted the S.A.A.Q. in Québec but no other jurisdiction in North America ?

On the recommendation of the SAAQ, the Minister of Transport of Quebec at the time, Mr. François Bonnardel, nonetheless signed a Ministerial Decree in July 2019 which had the effect of severely restricting the right to use military vehicles on the roads of Quebec.

These restrictions implied that military vehicles had to use a “C” plate, and could only de driven on roads with a speed limit of 70 km/h or less. These limitations essentially meant that we were now restricted to small roads around our houses. In some cases, owners could not even get out of their driveway !

In addition, this Ministerial Decree included a provision that military vehicles were to be completely banned from the roads of the province of Québec after August 22, 2024 !

The S.A.A.Q. then began sending letters to all affected vehicle owners informing them of the new imposed restrictions. These letters were sent out over several weeks, but the letters all had the same deadline of August 22, 2019.

In the middle of their vacation, some owners then only had a few days to comply with the new requirements of the S.A.A.Q. !

…après vérifications, nous avons reçu la confirmation que le fabricant, ou son importateur, a restreint l’utilisation de celui-ci à un usage hors route.

extrait de la Lettre de la S.A.A.Q. aux 550 propriétaires de véhicules militaires DU QUÉBEC

At the time, Minister Bonnardel was so convinced of the arguments of the S.A.A.Q. that he even made a statement to journalists to this effect when he was questioned at the exit of a cabinet meeting (see below)

What triggered the discussions :

Following several media outings from our group (Newspapers and radio), we were contacted by Minister Bonnardel’s office and invited to a meeting in Quebec in order to try to find a way to resolve this crisis. Some media also contacted us for further interviews. (Please note that most links below are in french)

This meeting of September 5, 2019 in Quebec City was the only “in-person” meeting that took place.

The meeting was cordial and the representative of the Cabinet showed attentive listening and kept an open mind towards the situation.

Right off the bat, we gave the Minister’s representative a petition of nearly 5,000 names in support of our cause.

The meeting allowed us to tackle several subjects, in particular the federal regulation concerning the vehicles known as “antique”, as well as the various laws affecting similar vehicles in force under various jurisdictions.

We thus noted that the Minister and his cabinet were not aware of several important points in connection with regulations in general and military vehicles in particular.

We also submitted a brief detailing the issues and raising several questions that had obviously never been addressed by the S.A.A.Q. in their interactions with the Minister. The brief informed the Minister’s representative about the real issues and confronted the unfounded fears related to military vehicles.

Since this first meeting had been cordial and productive, we agreed to continue discussions “remotely” to find a mutually satisfactory solution as soon as possible.

To reassure the Minister following the meeting of September 5, we proposed as of September 8, 2019 a periodic inspection (every 5 years) of military vehicles by the network of agents of the S.A.A.Q. in order to confirm its good mechanical & security condition. (Letter to the Minister)

Unfortunately this proposal was rejected immediately. The S.A.A.Q. instead proposed to carry out a single inspection of our vehicles but according to a protocol of their own (Not yet determined at the time) and specific to military vehicles.

The owners tried things on their own :

In the wake of the events, and as time passed, several organizations wanting to support us sent documents to offer information, assistance and advice to the Minister for the development of adequate regulations.

Several owners have also filed complaints with the Protecteur du Citoyen du Québec, while others have sent formal notices to the S.A.A.Q. demanding their case be reviewed. Some owners have even made official access to information requests in an attempt to obtain documents supporting the arguments of the S.A.A.Q.

Several owners also contacted their local elected legislative assembly member to ask for help.

Sadly, ALL of these attempts failed

The letters from the organizations offering assistance to the Minister received no response from him.

Similarly, the S.A.A.Q. did not acknowledge any of the formal notices sent by the owners.

And formal access to information requests have only received letters advising that the requested information could not be made public.

Finally, no provincial elected legislative assembly member agreed to support the owners of military vehicles in this matter.

The Association was in contact with a representative of the Protecteur du Citoyen du Québec. but in the end it was not possible to confirm whether the organization actually intervened with the government and / or whether this may have contributed to the solution.

The S.A.A.Q. goes fishing :

In the weeks that followed, the S.A.A.Q. maintained that our vehicles were “off-road vehicles” and that they should be subjected to a particular inspection protocol which could take into account certain points that their mechanical inspection agents could not correctly assess.

Except that over the following months, we obtained copies of communications that proved that the S.A.A.Q. was attempting to contact certain vehicle manufacturers AFTER the signing of the July 2019 Ministerial Order. The S.A.A.Q. even offered to disclose the VINs of some of the “suspicious” vehicles already registered in Quebec ! SAAQ / Pinzgauer email of August 21, 2019

It was therefore obvious that the S.A.A.Q. was trying by all means to oppose the minister by trying to go fishing to obtain arguments in support of their attempt to get our vehicles off the road for good in 2024.

According to the Minister’s representative, the S.A.A.Q. wanted to involve us in the process of developing the particular inspection protocol. Their only goal was apparently to ensure that our vehicles are safe, and not to prevent us from registering and driving them in Québec.

We refused the first version of the proposed protocol because it was modeled on the certification protocol of the S.A.A.Q. for craft vehicles and was far too restrictive.

We have argued that our vehicles were designed by engineers. That they have been manufactured in several thousand copies and they were designed to transport men and equipment in a safe manner while respecting the safety standards at the time they were manufactured.

The arguments during the discussions :

In addition, they have data plates and specifications that prove that they have been designed to be used on all types of roads, including highways!

We have also insisted on the fact that vehicles already registered must necessarily benefit from an acquired right (Grandfather clause) for the benefit of the vehicle itself and not of the owner. This is essential for future transactions !

Finally, as accident statistics involving historical military vehicles are non-existent, there can be no question of invoking a high number of accidents to consider our vehicles as unsafe and prevent us from registering them.

-> In fact there is only one known and documented incident involving a military vehicle: (Future link)

The S.A.A.Q. then spent several weeks developing a second version of their specific inspection protocol for our vehicles.

An short interlude with the S.A.A.Q. :

It was during this period that the minister’s office (which was too busy managing the taxi bill) transferred the responsibility for our discussions to the S.A.A.Q.

This episode with the S.A.A.Q. was only an interlude because, after only a few exchanges, it was obvious that we could not move ahead because the people at the S.A.A.Q. simply were not interested in any productive discussion. They even declared that they had mistakenly (and illegally) allowed our vehicles to be registered for road use in the past. Fortunately, once the taxi bill was settled, we were able to resume discussions directly with the minister’s office.

The aborted strategy of the S.A.A.Q. :

Despite our arguments, the Minister’s cabinet remained the same: To regain the right to drive with a “promenade” type registration (To regain access to highways), a historic military vehicle had to pass an inspection according to the specific inspection protocol imposed by the SAAQ

Furthermore, an engineer also had to confirm that each vehicle complied with this particular protocol. It was therefore not a question of certifying each “model/type” of vehicle but rather that each vehicle be “certified” individually.

Following an agreement on the inspection protocol, the Minister was considering allowing a 3-year grace period for all vehicles that were already registered before August 22, 2019 before having to submit them to the special inspection, and grace us with a “promenade” type registration during this 3-year period.

We were then contacted to see if we were willing to lend two vehicles (an Iltis and a HUMVEE) available for the S.A.A.Q. to validate the application of this second particular protocol.

We agreed to lend the vehicles and made arrangements to have them transported so that the validation could take place during the first week of December 2019.

During the last week of November 2019, we were contacted again to inform us that the S.A.A.Q. had changed their mind and that they no longer needed our vehicles to test their protocol because the administrative and logistical constraints implied, according to them, too much expenses.

They were now looking at the possibility of simplifying the process and completely dropping the particular inspection protocol. Now they just wanted a letter from an engineer confirming that our vehicles were safe.

All that for this :

So the Minister of Transport was finally going to settle for a simple letter signed by an engineer to be reassured that our vehicles were safe before allowing us to return on the highways of Quebec.

After 5 months of discussions with the representatives of the Quebec Ministry of Transportation, an agreement was finally reached in January 2020.

Several more weeks (and many steps) would be necessary to formalize this agreement and transform it into law. The process was finally completed in May 2020 with the publication of a second Ministerial decree.

In the end, military vehicles can once again be registered to be driven without restrictions on the roads of Quebec.
The process to register a military vehicle in Quebec can be viewed here

Rumor or truth ?

Rumor has it that this whole story has its source with an owner from the south shore of Montreal who tried to register a HUMVEE imported from the USA in the spring of 2019.

There was some been confusion with the wording / description of the vehicle on the import papers and the serial number of said HUMVEE which was obviously not a 17 character VIN !

Any well-meaning person would have done what was necessary to simply fix the problem.

But this same rumor sais that the engineer from the S.A.A.Q. who got involved seized the opportunity to reactivate a plan that comes up periodically, namely that of withdrawing military vehicles from circulation in Quebec.

To further fuel the rumor, we were able to get in touch with the owner from the south shore of Montreal who wanted to register his imported HUMVEE in the spring of 2019.

He confirmed several details of the case, the accuracy of which we were then able to verify through our contacts with the S.A.A.Q.

Faced with the impossibility of registering the vehicle in Quebec, he resold his HUMVEE in Ontario, and the vehicle was easily registered in the fall of 2019 without any problem while our discussions with the S.A.A.Q. were just beginning !

If you come across a HUMVEE with registration BC25599 in Ontario, say hello to the owner for us !

Obviously there were a lot more communication / discussion and emails than what is listed above.

The numerous exchanges (and certain documentary evidence) tend to show that, once Minister Bonnardel’s entourage was aware of the precise facts (and of the sequence of events) they did everything to protect the Minister (who had signed the first ministerial decree without asking any questions) and find a compromise to allow us to regain the right to move without losing face. This same rumor asserts that this is the reason why we have never been able to meet the Minister in person in all this time …

Does the past guarantee the future?

It is important to know that the 2019 episode was preceded by a similar incident in the early 2000s when the first Bombardier Iltis were sold by GC Surplus (The federal surplus service)

The S.A.A.Q. also attempted to prevent these vehicles from circulating on Quebec roads at the time.
A lawyer appointed by a few owners was able to save the day but, as we know today, the S.A.A.Q. relapsed in 2019.

Knowing that we learned on December 7, 2021 that British Columbia has also just attempted to restrict the right to circulate military vehicles on its territory, we must remain vigilant and consider that the S.A.A.Q. may still try again with similar attempts in the future.

In light of the above, there is no doubt that the QAMV constitutes the core around which owners of military vehicles must organize themselves to oppose any new provincial regulations that could restrict the right to operate our military vehicles on Québec roads.

Knowing that legal procedures are expensive, the primary mission of the QAMV is to build a large enough defense funds to give us the means to effectively challenge in court any new provincial regulations that could restrict the right to use our military vehicles on Québec roads.

We are counting on you to achieve our goal !