LAMPMAN, Saskatchewan, May 22, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A large family in Saskatchewan is crying foul after government officials at the Canadian border impounded their Canadian purchased vehicle after it had been modified in the U.S. so that it could safely accommodate their entire family of ten.
Owners Edwin and Alison Morris say that despite the legal entanglement they are facing with Customs and the Ministry of Transportation, the situation for them is very clear: “They are discriminating against large families, plain and simple.”
Last year, the Morris family grappled with the problem of how to travel safely with their three boys and five girls on the back roads in their rural area. They looked into all the options, from traveling in two cars to using a 12 or 15 passenger vehicle. Two cars meant that they could not travel together as a family, and they felt compelled to rule out a large passenger van because of safety issues.
“If you do your research on those vans, they are not safe,” said Mrs. Morris who spoke by phone from her home to LifeSiteNews.
After much research, the Morris family believed they had finally hit upon a promising solution to their transportation conundrum. They discovered Tim Huskey, owner of Custom Autos by Tim in Oklahoma, who custom-builds stretch SUVs for large families. Huskey converts two SUVs into a single vehicle by welding the frames together according to recognized industry standards.
“We went to the USA because the only qualified business we could find in Canada was not willing to invest the time into the process,” the parents said. “We could have done it ourselves but thought it was more prudent to have someone with many years of experience doing the work.”
Before Edwin and Alison took another step, however, they consulted an official with the Canada Border Services Agency, who they say told the parents that a Canadian purchased vehicle that had been modified in the U.S. would still be considered certified in Canada and that they would have no difficulties bringing their vehicle back home.
But six months later when the family arrived at the Canadian border to bring their custom-built stretch SUV home, they were horrified to learn that their vehicle would not be allowed to enter the country.
Transport Canada told LifeSiteNews in an emailed statement that “bringing back a Canadian certified vehicle after having it altered in another country constitutes importation.”
“If a vehicle is subsequently modified after the manufacturer has certified it, the secondary manufacturer or company that performed the modifications, must demonstrate, by way of re-certification, that the vehicle still complies with the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards,” the department said.
“In general, in a case where an individual imports an inadmissible modified vehicle, Transport Canada will review the U.S. modifier’s certification documents (if such documents are made available to us) on the private importer’s behalf and will correspond with the U.S. modifier about certification questions if necessary.”
But the Morris family says that in Canada it is legal for individuals to modify their vehicles and that Transport Canada has no jurisdiction after a vehicle has been sold at the first point of retail sale. The Morris family pointed out that if they had paid a contractor in Canada to do their custom work, their vehicle would be licensable anywhere in Canada.
Edwin and Alison are now exasperated, arguing that the government policies that are working against them in this case have “nothing to do with safety.”
“Modified vehicles exist across the country,” Mrs. Morris pointed out, arguing that many of the “hotrods” displayed at car shows are licensed even though they have never met the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
“We live in a country where standards can be avoided and ignored if it’s for pleasure and luxury but not if it’s for practical use for a family,” she said.
The Morris family is hoping that media attention will help the appropriate federal officials fight for the safety of their family by allowing them to take possession of their modified vehicle. CTVNews in Regina aired a video report about the family’s predicament last week, but Mrs. Morris said that the legal doors to their vehicle still remain tightly closed.
“I totally believe we are going to get our vehicle back, but its not going to come easily, and they are not going to bend easily unless they have public pressure on them,” said Mrs. Morris.
“Everyone has the right to security, but we don’t,” she continued. “We are being forced to endanger our kids’ lives because of governmental bureaucratic rules. They are compromising our right as parents to keep our own children safe.”
Hon. Denis Lebel, P.C., M.P., Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Ph: (613) 996-6236, (418) 275-2768 (Constituency Office)
Hon. Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Justice, Attorney General of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Ph: (613) 995-1547, (905) 353-9590 (Constituency Office)