Opinion: Ontario’s helmet law reversal

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to reporters in Toronto, on Monday, September 10, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov.

Update: This was in fact an April Fool’s Day joke.

The Ontario government’s astonishing announcement this week of the repeal of the provincial helmet law was buried in the daily onslaught of news about COVID-19 to attract less attention. It took everyone who noticed it by surprise, but we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Premier Doug Ford changed the law to allow Sikhs to ride helmetless with no consultation, and this is just more of the same.

“Motorcycle operators aged 21 and older, who hold an M operator’s licence, will no longer be required to wear protective helmets on public highways in Ontario,” states the new amendment to the law, which will take effect on an unspecified date later this year. And it’s as simple as that.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford doesn’t like wearing a motorcycle helmet.

But why the sudden about-face to a law that’s stood virtually unchallenged for decades, and which pretty much everyone agrees is very Canadian-sensible? No reason was given by the government in its press release, much like its sudden adoption last May of taller handlebar height limits, other than “Ontario motorcyclists must be allowed to choose their own options.” Some commenters on social media have suggested it’s intended to cheer us up in these challenging times, because what does it all matter any more?  Most assume it’s connected to the Sikh exemption.

But no, the reason is this: Doug Ford now owns a scooter, and his head is too large for a helmet.

I know this because my friend Lenny D’Angelo is a salesperson at GTA Vespa, and it was Lenny who sold Karla Ford a new Vespa last November as a birthday gift for her husband.

The Vespa Faggio, similar to the Ford family birthday present.

“It’s a lovely bike – the Vespa Faggio,” said Lenny yesterday afternoon, on the phone. “Quite masculine, and plenty of power for getting around the city. It was a birthday surprise for Doug from the whole family. We delivered it to his home and put a big red bow on it, the works.

“We also supplied a helmet. When we asked the correct size, his wife just said, ‘the biggest you have – he has a very large head.’ So we sent over an XXL-sized AGV Orbyt open-face with the scooter. But she called us on his birthday morning and told us it was too small. Apparently, it wouldn’t even fit past his ears.”

Lenny says GTA Vespa couldn’t provide a larger helmet, but he recommended Doug try the XXXL-sized Bell M3 “Fathead”, among others. He didn’t think about it again until one of Ford’s daughters came to the store in February to purchase a T-shirt.

Doug Ford’s head is very large and needs a plus-sized helmet.

“She told me that her dad never did find a helmet that was comfortable. Apparently, his head is a size 8½, which really is big. I asked if he was going to get rid of the scooter because of this, but she said, no, he really likes it.

“That was how we left it, and I assumed the Vespa would be like an ornament in the house, or he’d give it to his wife to ride. But when I heard the news this week about the helmet law, it all made sense.”

That’s when Lenny called me and he’s right – it all makes sense now, doesn’t it?

If you disagree with this change in legislation, make sure to tell your local MPP. To see this week’s official government announcement, click here.

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