Obi Canuel is an ordained Pastafarian minister from British Columbia who's fighting for the right to wear his religious headgear — a pasta colander — in his driver's license photo.
Canuel was granted an interim license while the Insurance Corporation of British Colombia considered whether his headgear was permissible. Canuel had previously supplied the ICBC with the answers to "a series of intrusive questions" about his faith establishing the case for wearing the collander. ICBC will not disclose its process for deciding which religious beliefs qualify for the exception, nor whether it has a list of approved faiths.
Canuel's fight began nearly a year ago when he tried to have his license photo taken while wearing headgear in — or so he thought — accordance with ICBC policy, which states: "ICBC 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 insurer balked, telling him in a later letter, "we understand there is no religious requirement that prohibits you from removing the colander."
Adam Grossman, a spokesman for ICBC, would not disclose whether the provincial insurer has a list of religions it recognizes, or how it makes decisions as to whether a form of religious headgear will be accepted.
He said in a written statement that "we will always try to accommodate customers with head coverings where their faith prohibits them from removing it. Mr. Canuel could not provide us with any proof that his faith prohibits it."
Pastafarian's fight with ICBC comes to a boil
[Matthew Robinson/Vancouver Sun]