The World Sikh Organization of Canada expresses disappointment with today's decision by the Ontario Court of Justice against Baljinder Singh Badesha and his struggle to wear his turban while riding the motorcycle. The turban is an important Sikh article of faith that is not covered by any other object.
The ruling is even more unfortunate in light of exceptions made for Sikh turbans in both British Columbia and Manitoba, along with many other jurisdictions across the world including the United Kingdom, India, Hong Kong, etc. While safety on the road is a very important factor, WSO believes that the wearing of a turban does not substantially raise the risk either to the rider or others on the road as has been proven by the many Sikh motorcyclists in other jurisdictions who have been riding with their turbans for many years without problem.
Until now the challenges to the Canadian Charter of Rights and freedoms had been cloaked and camouflaged attempts by extreme fringes of our society. "This latest development, coming from a court in Ontario, must be viewed as a 'wake up' call by all Human Rights groups of all shapes and stripes. "It is great that we have a 'CHARTER', we also need a matching collective will to uphold and defend the CHARTER against attacks from disruptive and destructive social and political forces," said Gurpreet Singh Bal, President WSO Canada. He also said that "while today's ruling is unfortunate, WSO will continue to try to educate and inform others about the Sikh faith and the importance of the turban. We appeal to the lawmakers of Ontario to take a cue from British Columbia and Manitoba and many other jurisdictions, by enacting laws that allow Sikhs to practice their religion freely."
As always, the WSO will continue its efforts to educate and negotiate with all those institutions who take positions against the rights of religious minority communities in Canada to freely practice their faith, in all aspects of Canadian society.
Canada's Sikhs are known internationally for their commitment to protecting the rights of all Canadians, irrespective of race, creed or colour. Gian Singh Sandhu, WSO Senior Policy Advisor said," A commitment to equality and justice is as much a part of the Canadian identity as it is a part of the Sikh religious identity.
For more information, please contact Maj (retd.) Jasbeer Singh, Media Relations, Tel. 780-457-3333, Cell. 780-235-6000, email: [email protected]
Gian Singh Sandhu, Senior Policy Advisor, Tel. 250-305-2440, email: [email protected]