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The fastest vehicles on the planet…. provided they can get past the red tape

This weekend, I’m off to Montreal for the Formula One Grand Prix. We have dinner reservations at a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try for years, and a great group of friends from all over the country converging on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for an action packed, fun weekend.

Every year at this time, I marvel at the coordination of moving into Canada all those athletes, engineers, managers, and team bosses, not to mention the incredible amount of gear. There are literally thousands of people who descend on Montreal, none of whom are Canadian, and all of whom are there in a professional capacity. How can they work without work permits? Does anyone get stuck at the border? What happens then?

Perhaps my amazement in these particular details isn’t shared by all, but I can still tell you how it works:

The drivers don’t need work permits, because participants in sports activities or events, either as an individual participant or as a member of a foreign-based team are permitted to work in Canada without a work permit [R.186(h) of IRPR].

The stewards and other FIA representative shouldn’t need work permits because judges, referees or similar officials at international amateur sports competitions, or international cultural or artistic events or competitions are permitted to work in Canada without a work permit [R.186(m) of IRPR]. I don’t think you can classify F1 as an amateur sports competition but I’d certainly argue that it is a cultural event.

Drivers’ managers, the team engineers, team bosses and other all other team members shouldn’t need work permits because they are engaging in “international business activities and are not directly entering the Canadian labour market”. This means that they are paid outside of Canada, and that their principal place of business remains outside of Canada. Also, the team’s revenue and profits (even though some teams are hardly profitable!) occur predominantly outside of Canada [R.187 of IRPR]. It’s interesting that in this case, if ever there was a Canadian team on the F1 grid racing in Montreal, and one of their engineers was Italian, then that person would need a work permit for the one weekend in Montreal, even if they lived in Italy, and spent most of the year travelling all over the world.

If any of the drivers, stewards, managers, engineers etc, have a criminal violation in their past, including a DUI, or rather small drug related conviction from years past, then this could certainly impact their ability to enter Canada. Anyone with a criminal conviction is inadmissible to Canada. Actually, the type of criminal conviction is relevant as to whether admissibility is affected, but I won’t go into detail here. Suffice it to say that most of the time, it will be an issue. If inadmissible, the person would need to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit that would allow them to come to Canada despite not being permitted to by law. Depending on the nationality of the individual and the offence committed, this application could take a very, very long time, and there is no guarantee that it would ultimately be approved. Hopefully, the team members have been responsible young lads and lasses, and this isn’t an issue for anyone. How could Massa get through a race if his race engineer wasn’t around to say “Felipe, baby, stay cool”?

When the thousands and thousands of fans descend on Montreal this weekend, we won’t see the bureaucratic processes that go into permitting each individual involved in the race to enter Canada. We will be focused on the speed, the adrenalin, and the superficial quarrels between drivers, as well we should be. I find it incredible that even though immigration legislation can be slow to change and not very adaptable to unconventional circumstances, that we still find a way to ensure that it is sufficiently comprehensive to address the countless individual circumstances of everyone needed to make this weekend run smoothly.

Go Ricciardo!