HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT (HELMET EXCEPTION FOR SIKH MOTORCYCLISTS)
On 18 October 2018, MPP Anand spoke about the “Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Helmet Exception for Sikh Motorcyclists)” as part of a Private Members’ Public Business statement.
Madam Speaker, we’re not the first ones. We heard this from the fellow members as well. Ontario’s law will be brought in line with those in Alberta since 2018, BC since 1999 and Manitoba since 2000, where helmet exemptions for Sikh motorcycle riders are already in place.
The wearing of turbans is an essential part of the Sikh faith and identity. Being born in Punjab, I know how important it is. Exceptions for Sikhs have been successfully implemented not only in Canada but in other countries as well. A great example: The United Kingdom, a leader in road safety, had implemented it in 1976.
But, Madam Speaker, I want to stress one more thing. Road safety remains our utmost priority. Our government also believes that individuals have personal accountability and responsibility with respect to their own well-being, but we do recognize civil rights and religious expression. I would like to congratulate the Sikh Motorcycle Club, and I want to say this: The Sikh community now has to show that the exemption will not create any unsettling statistics.
I’d like to stress one more thing, Madam Speaker. I have very little time, but I want to talk about new drivers. Most of the accidents happen because of the new drivers, and now with this exemption, I’m pretty sure there are going to be a lot of riders who will come on board. This is what I would like to advise them: Training is very important.
I’d like to talk about one of my good friends—I’ll rather say “my sister”—Navdeep Gill, who is also sitting here. I was introduced to the Sikh Motorcycle Club by Navdeep when we had Ride for Raja. Again, what we learned was that he was wearing a helmet and he died while riding a motorcycle.
With this note, Madam Speaker, I believe training is extremely important. I would like to stress that the Sikh Motorcycle Club could consider that as well.
Today, I’m pleased to join my fellow members to announce that Ontario’s government for the people intends to grant members of the Sikh community the ability to ride motorcycles without a helmet. Last week, the member from Brampton South tabled a private member’s bill to grant this same exemption in recognition of Sikh motorcycle riders’ civil rights and religious expression.
Talking about Brampton, Madam Speaker, I’d like to talk about and recognize my fellow friend from Brampton West who is looking really wonderful, someone that our Premier has described as an “all-star.” He has demonstrated a passion for working on the issues that are important for Brampton—be it contributing a bill on insurance, helmet exemptions, as we heard him, or even being a champion of working towards better health care—and I want to remind you—in a timely and an appropriate manner.
Back to the helmet exemption, Madam Speaker: Members of the Sikh community have been calling for a helmet exemption for turbaned Ontario Sikh motorcyclists for several years now—about 10. We promised to establish a helmet exemption for Sikh motorcyclists, we listened to the Sikh community, and today I can say proudly that we are taking action—action to fulfill those promises intended to grant an exemption in the coming days.
I would like to get the help of fellow members: This is another great example of a promise made—