Background story: Toronto and the OPP

I rode away from Kawasaki’s Toronto head office on a Kawasaki Drifter 1500 and headed up to Hwy. 401 to ride over to a meeting just a few kilometres away. I’d barely made it into the collector lanes, though, when a cop pulled me over. He was Ontario Provincial Police. They have jurisdiction over the provincial highways.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?” he asked. Cops always like to start the conversation that way, and usually I know the answer, even if I don’t admit to it. Not this time though. Not a clue.

“It’s because of that,” he said, and pointed at the back of the bike. “What’s that?”

It turned out he was pointing at the licence plate. Again, I had no idea why. I got off the bike and looked at the plate. It was blue in colour. In Ontario, regular plates are white while dealer plates are blue, but the cop didn’t seem to know this. When I explained, he looked exacerbated. Clearly, he was having a bad day.

He asked for my licence and ownership and insurance, and I gave him my licence from my wallet. Press bikes usually carry the paperwork under the saddle or wherever the tool kit lives, so I went looking for it, but it wasn’t there. It was nowhere on the bike. Somebody at Kawasaki had forgotten to include it.

I told this to the cop and explained I was a journalist, which is why I didn’t own the tester bike. I offered to ride back with him in tow to Kawasaki’s office, barely five minutes away, to collect the paperwork, but he was having none of it. His bad day had gotten worse, and I was to get the brunt of it.

“Sit over there and don’t move,” he said, pointing at the grass verge. “This is going to take a long time.”

That’s when I got to say some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever uttered.

“I hope it won’t take too long, sir, because I have an appointment with your Commissioner in 10 minutes.”

That got his attention!

“They’re all waiting for me at the Keele Street headquarters,” I continued, “and the Commissioner and I have a meeting scheduled for 10 a.m.”

“That’s for you?” said the cop. There was to be a display of precision riding for the media by the OPP’s Golden Helmets and they would already be all gathered in the parking lot. First though, there was to be a one-on-one interview with the Commissioner granted to me as a reporter with the Toronto Star newspaper.

The cop hustled back to his radio, called in, and within a minute I was being escorted with full flashing lights to the OPP detachment at Keele St. The cop scurried back onto patrol as soon as I rode the Drifter through the gates.

This photo is not of that cop. There wasn’t time or the opportunity beside the road for that. It’s of me on the Drifter at that media display, soon after arriving in the nick of time. The cop you can see is holding my licence because he’s going to let me ride his bike.

But I like to think that it’s a picture of me and that cop, just a few minutes earlier. In this business, I’ve won some and I’ve lost some. That was a day I definitely won.


  1. I’m glad it worked out good for you, but what if you hadn’t had that appointment……I’ve seen this quite a bit lately, and even became a victim of it myself..I understand they have a very difficult and scary job, But they knew this before becoming a police officer. Shouldn’t matter what kind of day they are having…They shouldn’t take it out on people who had nothing to do with it..Even in my case I found myself counselling the very rude and almost belligerent Hamilton Wentworth officer down..We should not have to do this.They should be setting the example of how to talk to people. Two things I’ve done to change it a bit.1 know your rights….Remember they are public servants and work for you and I( and I’m not saying that to sound arrogant or be a smart ass, but they took an oath to serve and protect. Not be bullies) 2 I ALWAYS ride with my GoPro. Its almost disgusting how quick there attitude changes when they see the camera. Sorry to all the good police officers who do a great job. But the small percentage of bad cops wreck it for all of them…..If they can not deal with the job with out taking it out on innocent people. They should find another job that’s not so mentally hard to deal with…….

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