By Jeremy Appel on November 29, 2018.
A Hatter is in the process of launching a Charter challenge against Alberta’s exemption to mandatory motorcycle helmets for people of the Sikh faith.
On April 12, Alberta became the third province after British Columbia and Manitoba to permit this exception for turban-wearing Sikhs. Ontario became the fourth to do so on Oct. 18.
Troy Fandrick, who has three tickets for not wearing a helmet on his bike, says his challenge to is a matter of principle.
“The sole distinction in the law is racial and ethnic in nature. There’s no additional qualification,” Fandrick said.
The basis of his challenge is section 15 of the Charter, which encodes equality under the law for individuals, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion.
Fandrick appeared in Medicine Hat Provincial Court on Nov. 21, getting his case adjourned to Jan. 16 to give him time to retain a lawyer.
Fandrick has found a Vancouver-based constitutional lawyer interested in his case and is fundraising to pay his $10,000 retainer fee.
He stressed he’s not opposed to wearing a helmet, but that it should be up to the individual cyclist and apply equally to everyone.
“I have a problem with people who don’t ride making a law about us riding with the helmet under the blanket statement that it’s about our safety,” said Fandrick.
“They’ve told us for umpteen years that … we’re not responsible enough to decide for ourselves whether to wear a helmet or not, and then with one stroke of a pen, the minister of transport has written an exemption for a group solely based on racial or religious terms.”
Chris Czember, owner of Who’s on Third in Redcliff, has helped raise money for Fandrick’s legal challenge.
He says he was originally ambivalent about Fandrick’s ability to successfully launch a Charter challenge, but hopped on board after speaking to him in depth.
“He’s doing a lot of research and taking it very seriously,” Czember said. “That’s when I realized he had a chance.”
Czember held a 50-50 draw fundraiser at Who’s on Third for Fandrick, which he won and donated fully to Fandrick’s fund. One patron donated an additional $1,000.
He said he’s willing to help fundraise again if Fandrick asks.
“I leave that in Troy’s court,” said Czember.
Fandrick himself auctioned off a guitar signed by Axl Rose and Slash from Guns n’ Roses, which went for $2,000.
He also has a GoFundMe set up for anyone looking to make a donation, which can be reached at gofundme.com/constitutional-equality-defence.