Premier Doug Ford says Ontario Sikh riders to get helmet exemption

Premier Doug Ford has said Ontario’s Sikh motorcyclists are going to be able to ride their motorcycles without helmets.

For several years, this has been a hot-button topic in Ontario, as Sikh riders have been seeking an exemption from helmet laws on religious grounds for years. Alberta, Manitoba and BC allow exemptions for devout Sikh motorcyclists who wish to ride with their turbans on instead of helmets. Sikhs have been trying to get a similar exemption in Ontario, but have been turned down by the courts and by the Liberal government.

For years, NDP and PC politicians have been promising they would change this if they were in power. The battle over the law has been going on since at least 2008, when a Sikh rider received a ticket for riding without a helmet and challenged it in court.

Now, Driving.ca is reporting Doug Ford has told Sikhs he will back up his party’s long-standing promise with action. Reportedly, Ford recently mentioned the move in a roundtable meeting with Sikh leaders in Brampton, saying his government would approve the helmet exemption by Christmas.

16 thoughts on “Premier Doug Ford says Ontario Sikh riders to get helmet exemption”

  1. If you trust your god enough to ride without a helmet, you must also trust that same god enough to pay your hospital bills. If your don’t think “He” will, then don’t.

  2. so what are we going to do about Sikhs in our space/astronaut program ?…how about pro football ?…pro hockey ?…on and on…

  3. Immigrants from many nations and ethnicities are and have been, great contributors to the fabric of Canadian society. That said, I am not in favor of exemptions to Canadian Law for religious reasons. We are a secular society and the “Laws of the Land” should apply to everyone. Helmet laws, if they are in place, should apply to everyone … or no one … exemptions are hypocrisy

  4. I’m not a Sikh….but I have been involved in a few motorcyle-related “accidents”. I wonder much protection a turban provides when you’re hit by a car making an imporoper turn and your head smashes into the car’s windshield? If I was a Sikh, I’d wear a helmet….and maybe wrap a turban around the helmet to make other Sikhs happy.

  5. It’s a big who cares. Hardly “ pandering “ given he just got elected. The old “ they should give up OHIP “ nonsense is just that. There are people out there that think the same of you for simply riding a motorcycle. In the end does this affect you at all? No? Then who cares. A good first step in getting rid of many state Ontario.

  6. I’m not saying “kill all the stupid people”, I’m just saying let’s get rid of all the nanny state helmet laws and take the warning labels off everything and let nature take its course.

    Evolution for the win!!!

  7. You know what? I’m going to be a contrary old phart here. (Like that’s a surprise.)

    I don’t have a problem with Sikhs being permitted to ride without helmets, as long as they pay their insurance costs for any changes to risk. (It’s likely such costs will be low, as riding with no helmet and experiencing an accident is more likely to require a cheap pine box than an expensive hospital stay!)

    In this particular case, Sikhs have long been upstanding and strong contributors to Canadian society (admittedly with some serious incidents including a certain aircraft bombing). They are a good group and REALLY know how to throw a party!

    I don’t believe in the “slippery slope” nonsense where if we do a nice thing for one group we automatically have to give everything to everyone. That sort of absolutism mentality isn’t needed in Canada.

    Let’s review:
    1. It’s a limited change that really only positively affects a few people.
    2. If the public costs go up, they can be covered by changes in insurance rights for the specific riders who want to ride helmetless.
    3. It simply doesn’t hurt other people.

    I don’t have a problem making this exception as it’s limited, doesn’t affect most Ontario citizens and is a significant benefit to this group. So yeah, I’ma let this one slide.

    1. I have long been an upstanding strong contributor to Canadian society. So can I ride without a helmet because I just don’t feel like it. As far as I’m concerned “My religion conflicts with the law requiring helmet use” is essentially the same as I “I just don’t feel like it”. Why should their religious beliefs privilege them over everyone else? And no, I don’t really want to ride without a helmet. Again, its the principle. And I guarantee you there will be no insurance premium for Sikhs who ride without helmets. That would be discriminatory, don’t you know? I’m sure that’s what they would say. Privileges for people of certain religions, but no extra responsibilities.

    2. I understand your point(s).
      The thing is; you can’t sign-away/decline your rights. We in Canada have decided that health care is to be a state responsibility and it is universally and equally accessible for all, so it’s a right.
      I agree with you principally – if you want to run the risk of splattering yourself and are willing to assume ALL the risk then fill your boots, but that’s not how it’s gonna work.
      My belief is it’s OUR choice and should remain OUR choice. Religion/faith or non-essential activity. Not necessarily an easy choice sometimes but still a choice.

  8. The first job of any politician is to get elected. The second is to stay elected. I get so tired of suck up politicians as opposed to people of principle

  9. I long for the days when we had people whose purpose was to get elected in order to govern and accomplish something as opposed to politicking and pandering to voting blocs or groups.

    Like the commenter Ryan above, I believe the law should be applied to all of us equally. I believe that it is a minimum of what we should expect in a democracy. I realize we’re talking about a small group of people asking for the exemption.

    If your religion precludes you from riding a motorcycle because abiding by the existing law interferes with an affectation of your religion then YOU have to make the choice to be pious or to participate. It’s just riding a motorbike and it’s not a necessity. If your faith is that important to you then choose your faith and make the personal sacrifice necessary.

    1. Thank you for saying that more clearly than I could. I agree with your last paragraph wholeheartedly, and if there was a way to up vote comments here, I would, a hundred times.

      This is not a “reasonable” accommodation. It’s a complete abrogation of the helmet law that was passed for SAFETY reasons. No good reason to change the rules because of these guys’ religious beliefs. As you say, if they can’t find a way to follow their beliefs and the law, and their religion is that important to them, I guess they’ll just have to pass on riding. Or should have to, if not for idiot politicians pandering to them.

  10. Vote pandering much, Dougie?
    I don’t really care if these guys ride in turbans, but I think it’s wrong, just on principal. The same laws should apply to all. It’s up to them to figure out how to follow the law and meet their religious obligations. Wearing a turban is a choice, not a legal requirement. Wearing a helmet IS a legal requirement for everyone else.

    If they can say they need to ride without a helmet because of their religion, I should be able to say that I want to ride helmetless because my beliefs don’t allow me to wear a helmet – who’s the government to say what is or isn’t a valid religious belief or requirement?

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