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‘My religion is sport’: Red Deer man refuses to remove cap for driver’s licence photo


It’s almost impossible to separate Ken Egilsson from his Edmonton Oilers ball cap.

From the minute he gets out of the shower each morning, the Red Deer man puts the cap on, and wears it every day, all day long — unless he’s going to a funeral.

So when he went to renew his driver’s licence last week, Egilsson took more exception than usual when asked to remove his hat for the required photo. Egilsson, 33, refused.

“I find it discriminatory that you’re allowed to wear, for any religious beliefs, you’re allowed to wear a head covering. And for the general public, we’re not allowed to cover our hair. There should be no difference.”

“I just don’t see what the difference is of somebody wearing a ball cap or somebody wearing a turban or some sort of a head dress for religious matters. My religion is sport,” said Egilsson, who owns a local company that services the oil industry.

“We live in a free country. If other people are allowed to freely express their religion or whatever they believe in, and that includes head dressings, then that’s fine. They should be allowed to cover their hair in the picture.

“On the same token, it shouldn’t matter that I’m religious or not. That has no bearing on the fact that if they’re allowed to cover their head in a photo, I should be allowed to cover my hair for a photo. … It should be fair on both sides,” Egilsson said.

He argues that the ball cap does not conceal his face, and if he were to be stopped by police, he’s more recognizable with the ball cap on because he always wears it.

Egilsson, who has been researching the matter the past week, noted that a few members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster have fought for and been allowed to wear colanders on their heads for their driver’s licence photos. The handful of instances have occurred in one U.S. state and Australia.

A B.C. man tried it last year but was unsuccessful. Some view the church as somewhat quirky.

“They wear colanders on their head, and that’s fine. … We live in a free society,” a totally serious Egilsson said.

“There’s no ban on ball caps. Like the Canadian government hasn’t said everybody in the country is not allowed to wear ball caps. So if ball caps are accepted in our society, then I should be able to get my photo taken with my ball cap on,” Egilsson said.

“I feel that I look better with my hat on than with my hat off. I feel that I look probably 10 times better with a hat on, then a hat off.”

Egilsson wondered what happens when women change the colour of their hair. “Shouldn’t they have to go in and get their driver’s licence picture retaken?”

It was right after Egilsson had finished paying for his licence renewal and turned over his old driver’s licence on March 3 that he was told a new photo was required.

When he refused to remove his hat, he said he was told they could not process the renewal. In the end, he asked for and received his old licence back and returned the temporary one he had been issued. He has a receipt for the payment he made to renew the licence.

“I’ve just renewed my licence for five years so whether or not I’ve got a card that says it’s a valid date or not, the fact is, in the computer system, I’ve renewed my licence,” Egilsson said.

John Archer, a spokesman for Service Alberta, provided this written response on Wednesday.

“It’s important that holder of a driver’s licence or identification card can be easily recognized through his or her photo and signature on the card. These are essential parts of the security of the province’s driver’s licences and identification cards.

“Head coverings may be allowed to be worn in the photo for religious and medical reasons, only if they are worn daily for these purposes.

“Head coverings worn for fashion, work, or even safety reasons need to be removed for a brief moment while a driver’s licence or identification card photo is taken.”

barr@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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