The province of Alberta has joined British Columbia and Manitoba and passed a traffic exemption to allow turban-wearing Sikhs to ride motorcycles without a helmet. In Ontario, similar legislation has twice been stalled at Queen’s Park, where Premier Kathleen Wynne has said exemptions to the mandatory helmet law are not safe.
“It’s a social statement, there’s a value statement behind the turban, it’s reflective of that. It’s evolved over hundreds of years to actually become part of a uniform. We just consider ourselves incomplete, it would almost be like going out without clothes.” Jagdeep Singh, Sikh motorcycle club of Ontario.
Singh knows six Sikh families in Alberta who are excited to finally buy motorcycles. He says the Ontario club gets daily inquiries from the Sikh community about when the law will change here.
Three Canadian provinces now allow Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets, but the club says Ontario Sikhs have been fighting for this right for much longer. In 2008 a Brampton man lost a court battle against the Ontario motorcycle helmet law. A judge found that overturning the law would abandon a reasonable safety standard.
In 2014 and 2016 motions were introduced to amend the law in Ontario. The most recent stalled after its first reading. The motorcycle club says there is no safety issue and the proof is in British Columbia, where Sikhs have been riding helmet free since 2009.