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Opinion

Turbans vs. Motorcycle Helmets. Religious Freedom vs Safety?

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Should safety trump religious freedom?
That sensitive topic may need to be visited by our Alberta provincial government if it prepares to debate making turban-wearing Sikhs exempt from current motorcycle helmet laws. They will likely need to discuss exemptions for motorcycle riders and also side-car occupants. There are jurisdictions that have these exemptions. Sikhs are allowed to ride without a helmet in British Columbia and Manitoba.
Ontario, after serious study, decided not to allow turban-wearing Sikhs to ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, a decision the Canadian Sikh Association called “deeply” disappointing.
Premier Kathleen Wynne of Ontario had also struggled with striking the right balance between public safety and religious accommodation. A bill was brought to the Ontario legislature years ago requesting an exemption. After much thought and consultations it was not supported.
“After careful deliberation, we have determined that we will not grant this type of exemption as it would pose a road safety risk,” she wrote in a letter to the Canadian Sikh Association. “The association has been a strong advocate for an exemption and presented “compelling arguments,” Wynne wrote. “However, the Ontario government has carefully monitored, and considered, the soundness of accommodating your position, drawing on relevant academic research, key legal decisions, and consultations with caucus and the community.”
“Ultimately, the safety of Ontarians is my utmost priority, and I cannot justify setting that concern aside on this issue.” The same would be said in Alberta.
The mandatory helmet law is based on extensive research that shows the high risk of injury and death for motorcyclists who ride without a helmet. Mortality rates have gone down 30 per cent and head injury rates down 75 per cent in jurisdictions with such laws.
Courts have also found that Ontario’s law doesn’t infringe on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Ontario Human Rights Code, so Alberta would not have to worry, then, if a court challenge was to be launched.
So should safety trump religious freedom? That is a tough one, but so is the rights of individuals as a whole. There is a fine line between the wishes of the few versus the needs of the community.
The turban issue is also complicated by it’s history and it’s geographical relevance. If the turban can be altered to identify nobility, carry small weapons and for various castes and events, why could it not be altered for safety measures.
I found this information on the internet’s wikipedia: All Sikh Gurus since Guru Nanak have worn turbans. However, covering one’s hair with a turban was made an official policy by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. The main reasons to wear turban are to take care of the hair, promote equality, and preserve the Sikh identity. Sikh women may wear a turban if they wish.
Sikhs do not cut their hair, as a religious observance. The turban protects the hair and keeps it clean. As Sikhs only form 2% of India’s population, their turbans help identify them, also. When he institutionalized the turban as a part of the Sikh identity, Guru Gobind Singh said, “My Sikh will be recognized among millions.”
If a turban was institutionalized as a personal hygiene measure and as an identification and recognition factor then it should allowed to be covered temporarily for safety factors, but I am not an expert, but just as a questioner.
How our current provincial government deals with this issue could set off some debate beyond the rights of religious rights. How about human rights? Should I be ordered to wear a helmet because I am not of a certain religion?
There will be discussion about allowing the exemption on smaller highways and urban streets, but a head injury at 60 km/h is still severe. An exemption to an exemption, would make less sense. If they wear a helmet on Hwy 2 then they can wear a helmet on residential streets.
If the facts bear out that helmets do not prevent or lessen head injuries and mortality rates then do away with mandatory helmet laws. But if the facts show they do prevent or lessen head injuries and mortality rates then no exemptions.
That is just my thoughts.

Opinion

We want free trade with everyone but Canadians living in other provinces.

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bc-wine Pipeline
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Free Trade with everyone but ourselves.
Canadians have been hearing a lot of talk about the need for and benefits from free trade with the Americans, the Europeans, the Chinese, and the Americans. Yah, let’s get it done.
What about free trade within our own country with other provinces?
Not so much.
We have been fighting amongst ourselves over healthcare, education, labour certification, lumber, minerals, water and a thousand other things. The latest is Alberta and British Columbia over oil and wine.
British Columbia with it’s fragile government put up barriers to the twinning of a pipeline, citing environmental concerns. Alberta countered with a ban on British Columbia’s wine.
There is a connection between oil and air pollution but there is also a connection between wine and alcohol related deaths. So is one government more righteous than the other? No, they both looking after the economic well being of their respective provinces.
British Columbia has great dealings with other governments over their energy resources, especially in the north, so they are not so pure in their stance. Alberta will continue to drink their wine, most notably from other countries.
The Federal government is the missing player in this game. They have the power to solve this situation. They can push the pipeline, which they previously approved, through British Columbia’s legal challenge. Will they?
Alberta has not been a supporter of this federal government and British Columbia has shown more support. This government needs British Columbia seats in the next election and will not gain any seats in Alberta in any case.
If they push the pipeline agenda they will be seen as anti-environment and lose seats in British Columbia and possibly in other areas that are environmentally sensitive areas.
If they do not push the pipeline agenda, they may retain their seats in British Columbia but may lose seats in the more right-wing economic sensitive ridings in other parts of the country.
We, Albertans, have been consistent in denouncing the Liberals for everything they have done or said, oftentimes without justification, in the past. We are reaping what we have sown in the political arena, as we wait for the next shoe to drop.
Mr. Trudeau, will push the pipeline agenda, and there will be people who will still complain, drive cars, fly airplanes, heat their homes and drink wine, drive under the influence, or know someone who will die due in some part to alcohol.
Then we will find another provincial barrier to argue about while we clamour for free trade with everyone else. Right?

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Opinion

A rural response to Gerald Stanley’s acquittal from a Saskatchewan farmer..

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As a person who lives on a farm in rural sask. I can offer the following insights into rural realities. I only speak for myself and my family. I don’t claim to know what I would or wouldn’t do if I was in the Stanley’s situation, nor if I was in that vehicle with Colton. I hope I never have to find out. I don’t know what life is like on farms in other places, I can’t speak to that.
I can only offer what knowledge I have of rural life…
1. If you live on a farm you are responsible for everything yourself. Snow removal, garbage disposal, water, sewer, security and safety. If your house starts on fire it’s very unlikely that the FD will arrive in time to save it. If you have a heart attack it’s very unlikely that the EMTs will arrive in time to save you. And if your family is attacked it is very unlikely that the RCMP will arrive in time to save you. You are basically on your own. I don’t feel that to say that the Stanleys could have locked themselves in the house and called the police is very reasonable. They weren’t in the house, they were all over the yard. Maybe their door didn’t even lock. Had they been in the house already they may have just hid there like their neighbor did. We can’t know either way. And where I live the earliest RCMP response would be greater than 30 mins. A lot can happen in 30 mins.
2.Anyone who enters a farmer’s property with the intent to steal from or threaten the occupants should be aware of the likely presence of weapons. All of the farmers I know have guns. More than one. Some have many. They aren’t solely or primarily for protection from would be thieves or attackers. some people collect guns, some people enjoy target shooting or hunting. On a farm it is pretty much necessary to have a gun. Where we live there are coyotes, raccoons, cougars, wolves, wild boars etc. An aggressive or rabid animal can attack your family dogs or a beloved animal may be injured or sick and need your mercy. It’s just a rural reality. But a gun can kill people just as easily as animals so everyone should just be aware that on farms there are usually guns.
3. The reasons farmers are easy targets for crime are the very same reasons they are often forced to deal with it on their own. Essentially no effective police response and isolation.
I don’t live in an area with a lot of rural crime. We’ve been robbed before and neighbors have had vehicles stolen and equipment vandalized but I would not say it’s a regular occurrence. Regardless, I have fears. I fear that this far from town someone will get injured or have a heart attack so I have our land location written by the phone and I took CPR. I fear that a snowstorm will take out our power and block our roads so we have a genset and snow moving equipment. I fear that our sewer will back up so we have an alarm and an extra pump. And I fear that if someone came into my yard with the intent or ‘the perceived intent’ to hurt my family the police would be of no help. So we have dogs, and locks on all our doors. And guns. And when guns get involved people can get hurt or killed. My point is we have to take extra precautions for things that urban people are comfortable letting ‘the professionals’ handle. Most farmers, most men actually, will do what they feel is necessary to protect their families and deal with the consequences later. No one wants to be in that position but when you live on a farm you are. You can not depend on anyone else to protect you or save you.
When people are intoxicated their judgement is impaired and they do not act or react in a predictable way. And it is safe to say when people are scared their judgement is impaired and they do not act or react in a predictable way. It’s very unfortunate that this tragedy happened at all and I feel terribly sad for all involved.

Regan from Saskatchewan

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