Ontario politician once again lobbying for Sikh helmet exemption

An Ontario politician has resumed the fight for a helmet exemption for members of the Sikh faith.

MPP Jagmeet Singh (NDP rep from Bramalea Gore) is backing a bill for Sikhs who regularly wear the turbans (called a Dastaar) required by their religion. The legislation would exempt them from wearing motorcycle helmets. BC and Manitoba already exempt Sikh riders from helmet laws

This isn’t Singh’s first try. Back in 2013, he introduced a similar bill; Premier Kathleen Wynne shot it down in 2014. This time around, the NDP and PC parties are both supporting the move. First reading of the bill has already carried — read it here.

91 thoughts on “Ontario politician once again lobbying for Sikh helmet exemption”

  1. Alot of the states in the US don’t require helmets. As for medical expenses arguement, why do the non smokers, non drinkers, healthy people have to pay for the medical expense of people who practise bad health choices. Why do I have to pay for lung cancer treatment for someone who smoked their whole life? What is there more numbers of? People who smoke and have health issues or people who don’t wear turbans and sustainedmedical injuries from motorcycle accident? Most of you people don’t care about the expenses, it’s more due to your dislike for people who don’t fit your criteria of what a Canadian should look or act like.

    1. Why has not somebody invented the Turban Helmet what has a DOT approved inner liner? It would fill both religious requirements and safety requirements at the same time. A fortune in worldwide sales is awaiting.

    2. You have a very valid point in reference to smokers and alcoholics. However there is no law prohibiting people to smoke or drink. Probably because there almost as many smokers and/or drinkers who do not get lung or liver cancer. If one was to ask the law makers why do we have a helmet law? The answer is “for your safety” …I’m gonna go out on limb here and guess that if you ride a motorcycle you are more likely to get into some kind of accident then someone who smokes contracting lung cancer. So are Sikhs super human? Kevlar turbans? Also I don’t really think you can use the “civil rights or Freedom of Religion” card. No one is stopping them from practising their religion or buying a house in your neighbourhood. As far as I know Sikhs also carry a Kirpan as part of their religion. Should they be allowed to bypass that and be allowed on airplanes with a knife when everyone else (for safety reasons) can’t even bring a toe nail clipper?

  2. Here in India I drive without helmet while wearing a turban. But speed here is much lower than that on foreign highways, so I guess it will be highly risky if someone meets with an accident.

  3. Easy solution, eliminate the helmet law. I will personally wear mine but if you don’t want to… I really don’t care.

    1. “We shouldn’t have to pay for their bigotry…..”

      Not sure I can see your point, here. I can understand “Shouldn’t have to pay for their stupidity” but bigotry?

    2. You know the next thing will happen is the cage drivers will push for a bill to ask for every rider to sign a waiver to pay for any medical bills because “we shouldn’t have to pay for their stupidity”.

  4. Is the government brainless or just idiotic the hospital line ups for service and the exorbitant cost is overwhelming to our country who fished this one out of the bag some joker who needs a job working for a living

  5. If this goes through I’m going to self identify as a Sikh. Then I can ride with no helmet too. And if I get a ticket then I can sue (and win) the police for human rights violation. Yup, finally going to benefit from the madness this world has created

    1. That’s what we all need to do. If the law if going to be ridiculous, we need to push that ridiculousness to its breaking point. I’m going to self-identify as a woman (albeit one who cross-dresses as a man) and start using the women’s change rooms at gyms, pools, etc.

  6. If it’s absolutely necessary for Sikhs to ride a bike without a helmet, then add an additional charge to their insurance. Insurance is like that – extra risk, extra cost.

    1. sounds good- you can fill one out also. Do you eat fast food, smoke, wait… you ride a motorcycle? well a lot of people think thats pretty risky. Kind of like censorship, everyones got there own perspective.

  7. BC brought in these exemptions years ago. Guess what? I’ve seen a Sikh riding with a turban maybe once. The rest of us are still riding with helmets, and the world hasn’t fallen apart.

    Much ado about nothing.

  8. This isn’t a problem, it’s an opportunity. You just have to look back in military history to see helmets and turbans combined into a single piece of headgear.

    Sikhs don’t want head injuries any more than anybody else. Where’s the entrepreneur who will invent a badass turban helmet?

  9. Helmet laws don’t exist to stifle religious beliefs. They exist to save the health care system from paying out for your mushy head, should you survive the initial crash. No helmet, no health care……

  10. Man this is a thorny issue. Our dense minister is a decorated veteran, and he’s Sikh. I was initially on the fence when it came to Rcmp Sikhs wearing turbans, but from what I’ve seen it’s worn tastefully, even on Toronto cops. With motorcycle helmets, its more of an exemption, so that’s different. Everyone has a riht to safety, but the government has legislated seatbelts, helmets among other things. The theory being, that if there are hundreds of yearly head injuries it will be taxing on our health care. Correct?

  11. As vice-chief of the surrey-newton Sith Brotherhood I claim the right to wear my Darth Vader mask through airport security. Feel the force!

  12. No helmet no insurance for a brain injury which would force all are rates to go up. I’m so tried of groups trying to rewrite laws under there religion. We can’t go there countries and change there laws. Bull shit I say

  13. If you don’t like Canadian laws, religion and culture, why the FUCK?! Do you migrate here for? Except our culture and way of life or buy your self a one way plane ticket…….., there are hundreds of other countries!

      1. I believe he’s referring to Canadian culture. And Rafal, learn a little about spelling and sentence structure, willya?

  14. no one is asking the Sikh to take their turban off. An enterprising company could make helmets especially for them. It’s not reasonable to use religion to be exempt from safety.. Ashphalt doesn’t care if your black brown white asian male female you will split your noggin like a watermelon if you hit it with out protection.

  15. The LAW is the LAW wear it or your not riding,I had a 10 speed in the younger years and was forced off the road and hit my head on a fender of a half ton my grandmother was a doctors assistant and she showed me the bill what it would of cost it was not good and at the time we were paying OHIP every so often and what we paid in OHIP was not near enough, So wear it and like others say why should we pay out of our tax money for not wearing one,I’m a bike rider and will never think of not wearing one,

  16. Wow, never seen the comments pile up so fast on here, chill out! How the hell does it change anything of significance for us motorcyclists? Geez, maybe if we got more excited about use of the HOV lanes or ins. rates or the may other ways we get dicked around in this province we’d actually see some positive change!

  17. So if this is passed, the legislation should also require any Sikh who chooses to not wear a helmet to disclose this to their insurance company. The legislation should also ban insurance companies from passing on any costs associated with this increased risk, to riders who do obey the law. Once they receive their next insurance bill, or are refused coverage, we’ll see which is more important, their wallet, their riding or their faith.

    1. Right on! Insurance rates for bikes are already at stupid levels. I don’t need them going higher in order to cover this too.

  18. I think the decision should be made solely on the basis of public safety. e.g., What’s the likelihood of someone getting hit with road debris without a helmet swerving into the packed bus shelter vs. someone who is wearing a helmet in the same situation.

    If there is a possibility that not wearing a helmet could cause the rider to be more likely to lose control or in some way potentially injure someone else then there should be no exceptions.

    If that’s the case then Sikhs should accept that the safety of the majority outweighs their desires. I say desire and not right. Wearing their headdress is a right. Riding is a privilege. Many people make sacrifices in order to follow a religion. In this case not being able to ride a motorcycle would be one of those sacrifices. Choosing to follow a religion is a choice so is prioritizing that over riding.

    If there is no impact to overall public safety then make the exception. And the rest of us will all still have to wear helmets. Well, sometimes the government does need to protect us from ourselves.

    1. Seat belts keep you in your place and may help you stay there and regain control thereby not harming others. That’s the thought process anyway.

      Helmets save on your hospital bill.

    2. I can kind of agree with the seatbelt thing. But not wearing a helmet probably has a better chance saving a hospital bill. Funeral expenses on the other hand.. But that’s not really your problem anymore

  19. Frigging vote sucking assholes. Anything for a vote. I would never ride without a lid but why is there an exemption for anyone? They don’t have to wear one then nobody should be required by law to wear one. Toss the law.

  20. OK, I get it. The NDP never saw a case of special privileges for special identities that they didn’t like. And the PCs are just trying to get the Sikh vote.

    A so-called religious requirement is not binding on anyone – it is an individual choice (in this country, anyway – there are no religious police coming for you if you fail to adhere to the tenants of your religion). As such I don’t see why there should be exceptions to laws based on supposed religious requirements. If something is important enough to have a law for most people, it’s important enough to apply to everyone equally. Or it shouldn’t be a law at all.

    Otherwise we get into the government deciding what is a “legitimate” religious requirement of a “recognized” faith group. I personally don’t think the government should be in the business of deciding what is or isn’t a legitimate religion. If someone can claim that their religion “requires” them to wear some sort of headgear, I should be equally able to claim (for example), without having to justify it to anyone, that my belief system bars me from wearing anything on my head. Surely faith or belief systems are personal. I mean, not everyone who is a Sikh believes they must wear a turban. Not all Muslims believe that women must wear the hijab (or worse).

    Of course, I also believe that the government should stay out of the business of protecting people from themselves. Want to drive without a seatbelt or ride without a helmet? Fine with me, have at it. I’ll probably think you’re a dumb-ass, but that’s my prerogative.

  21. The only reason the PC party would supposedly support something like this is to be a pain in the ass to the Liberals. Otherwise, they’d be the first to say “no way”. I hate politics.

  22. All common sense goes out the window in pursuit of votes. BC and Manitoba, please show us where this exemption has proven appropriate when injuries occur. I am not against religious beliefs outside my own, but religion should not be the reason to change laws where the law has been put in place with appropriate research and public safety concern. You want to ride without a helmet? I’m all for that if your health care is voided in the event of an accident while riding. I’m not paying for your hospitalization and rehab because of your religious beliefs. Win-win for Sikhs and the taxpayer.

    1. As a motorcycle rider with extremely high insurance rates I totally agree. I feel like they’re would be less injury with long term effects if people wore helmets properly. Also feel like if you don’t want to follow the Helmut law then insurance and hospital fees shouldn’t be covered by tax payers. That said it’s the same for people who don’t want to wear seatbelts as well.

    2. Lloyd Parker A good idea but not something that could be implemented …… since insurance is required by law and government control of insurance coverage of a private sector business would never fly …… now if the Ontario government were the insurer, that’s another story (and probably something Wynne would screw up royally too…..).

  23. The precedent has already been set. The supreme court allows religious schools to teach prejudice against gays. This has to stop. The next stage will be child marriage, polygamy, wife beating (permitted under Islamic law) and other barbaric practices.

  24. I fully agree with exemptions for garb, which is actually prescribed by religion… except in cases in which safety is a concern. This is one such case. If the government feels that a helmet is a requirement for the safe operation of a vehicle, then that should stand.

    If not then I’m joining the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and wearing a colander on my head when I ride.

    1. While I’m not one for wearing a colander, let’s look at Sikh’s who play hockey for a minute. There is no exemption there and they can wear helmets over their turbans. Why not bikes too. Riding a motorcycle is a choice not a right. Don’t like the rules? Don’t ride. Plain and simple.

    1. The Sikhs in BC have the option to not wear helmets and the world has not ended.
      Nice to see the celebrated “pure laine” racism rear its head again.
      Sikhs have been in BC and Canada for ages. Let it go.

      1. Nothing against the Sikhs, but if they can ride without a helmet for “religious reasons”, everyone else should be free to ride without one, too. No special privileges for special groups. The government shouldn’t be in the business of deciding what is or isn’t a legitimate “religious requirement”, or what is or isn’t a legitimate religion.

        Or maybe you think it’s OK that you or I can be prosecuted and/or persecuted for, say, defaming Muslims, but Muslims get a pass on virulent anti-semitism and gay bashing because its an integral part of their belief in the Koran? For some reason, though, bible-believing Christians don’t get the same deference to their beliefs. Either everyone should have the same right to believe what they want, and express those beliefs publicly, or none of us do.

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