Pastafarian Loses B.C. Driver's Licence Over Religious Head Gear

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A Surrey man has officially lost his driver’s license after the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) rejected a photo of him wearing a pasta strainer on his head.

Obi Canuel was told on Friday that ICBC would not allow him to drive beyond the end of the day unless he agreed to a photograph without the head gear, reports The Vancouver Sun.

Canuel, 36, is an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He wears a colander for religious observance and believes he should be allowed to wear his head piece in photos, but ICBC disagrees.

“I was content to wait until they changed their mind and, in the meantime, they never hesitated to give me paper interim licenses,” Canuel told the Sun. “I have to work and this is inconvenient.”

Canuel’s difficulties with ICBC began last fall. They took a photo of him wearing his colander, and issued a temporary licence. Canuel was told that his permanent one would be mailed, but it never was.

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A spokesperson for ICBC said the interim licence was only issued to Canuel while it considered his appplication, according to CTV News.

ICBC’s policy states that the company affirms “your rights to religious expression. You will not be asked to remove any headgear that does not interfere with facial recognition technology as long as it is worn in conjunction with religious practice, or is needed as a result of medical treatment.”

But the company stands by its decision.

"We will always try to accommodate customers with head coverings where their faith prohibits them from removing it. Mr. Canuel was not able to provide us with any evidence that he cannot remove his head covering for his photo," ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman said in a statement to the Sun.

Canuel can no longer drive legally, but he says that can actually be a good thing.

“I've been getting a lot of exercise. Noodles contain a lot of carbohydrates,” Canuel told CTV. “His noodliness would prefer if we not dwell on the negatives.”

He told the outlet that he’ll continue to fight ICBC but won’t seek legal help just yet.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was founded in 2005 in the U.S. Its Pastafarian believers oppose the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. "We are not anti-religion, we are anti-crazy nonsense done in the name of religion," explains its website.

In New Zealand, Austria, the U.S., and Czech Republic, Pastafarians are allowed to wear strainers in driver's licence pictures.

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