The Canadian Bazaar
Alberta, which has the third largest population of Sikhs in Canada after British Columbia and Ontario, will allow turbaned Sikhs to drive motorcycles without helmet from April 12.
British Columbia and Manitoba already allow turbaned Sikhs to drive motorcycles without helmets.
Alberta is amending its Traffic Safety Act to allow turban-wearing Sikhs the right to freely express their religion by riding motorcycles without helmet, a government statement said. But the person should be a bona fide Sikh and above the age of 18.
An Alberta government spokesperson has also been quoted as saying that the person driving a motorcycle wearing a turban would have to self-identify himself as a Sikh. If the police officer is not satisfied, a ticket can be issued which can contested in court.
Brian Mason, Alberta’s Minister of Transportation, said “the Sikh community has urged us to grant this exemption in recognition of its civil rights and religious expression. Our government is committed to these principles.”
As per the 2011 census, there are 52,335 Sikhs in Alberta.
Baltej Singh Dhillon, who became the first RCMP officer with a turban, welcomed the decision to allow Alberta Sikhs to drive motorcycles with helmet.
In a statement, Dhillon said, “The decision by the Government of Alberta to allow Sikhs to be able to ride their motorcycles without having to remove their turbans, which is an integral part of the Sikh identity, demonstrates a deep respect for the traditions and customs of the Sikh community. This exemption is a testament to the Government of Alberta’s continued commitment to respecting diversity and religious rights of all Albertans.”
In Ontario, a private member’s bill for allowing Sikhs drive motorcyclists without helmet was introduced by then NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh in 2013 and 2016, but it failed.