Sikhs denied exemption from Ontario’s motorcycle helmet law | Toronto Star

Good decision, not without courage given support in all party caucuses for the exemption, that other provinces have provided and exemption, and the importance of the Sikh vote in a number of ridings (but expect that most Sikh voters are not single issue voters).

Riding a motorcycle is a choice, not a right. While accommodation for turbans and other head (but not face) coverings is appropriate in most settings,  it is not for this one.

Motorcycle-riding Sikhs in Ontario will not be exempted from the province’s helmet law, Premier Kathleen Wynne has decided.The Canadian Sikh Association says it received a letter last week from Wynne stating the Liberal government, for safety reasons, will not allow Sikh motorcycle riders to wear only turbans as British Columbia and Manitoba currently allow.

“After careful deliberation, we have determined that we will not grant this type of exemption as it would pose a road safety risk. Ultimately, the safety of Ontarians is my utmost priority, and I cannot justify setting that concern aside on this issue,” Wynne said in her letter dated Aug. 14.

Wynne said safety trumps religious freedoms in this case.“As you know, the issue of balance between religious accommodation and public safety has been considered by the courts in Ontario which, on this issue, have found that Ontario’s mandatory helmet law does not infringe on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, nor the Ontario Human Rights Code,” she said.

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet. This poses a problem for Sikhs, whose turbans don’t fit under most helmets.

Sikhs denied exemption from Ontario’s motorcycle helmet law | Toronto Star.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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