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Canada 'End of the road:' Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

12:27  20 january  2021
12:27  20 january  2021 Source:   msn.com

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On April 6, 2018, sixteen people were killed and thirteen were injured when a northbound coach bus struck a westbound semi-trailer truck near Armley, Saskatchewan, Canada. The driver of the semi-trailer had failed to yield at a flashing stop sign at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335.

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REGINA — A former truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash has submitted paperwork with reasons why he should not be sent back to India when he gets out of prison.

a man wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Canadian Press

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu is now waiting for the Canada Border Services Agency to write a report that will recommend whether he be allowed to stay in his adopted country or be deported.

A grieving father of one of the hockey players killed will be waiting, too. Scott Thomas said he aches everyday for his 18-year-old son, Evan, but submitted a letter in support of Sidhu.

“I know for a fact that he’ll never drive a semi again. I know for a fact that if he could take back what happened that day he would in a heartbeat. He would trade places with any one of those boys," said Thomas.

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Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, centre, the driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash , leaves with The resulting crash with a bus carrying the Broncos junior hockey team to a playoff game killed 16 people So put all together, it's going to be an extremely difficult decision for an officer to make."

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Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm in the April 2018 collision that killed 16 people and injured 13.

Court was told that Sidhu, a newly married permanent resident, had missed a stop sign at a rural Saskatchewan intersection and driven into the path of the Broncos bus carrying players and staff to a junior hockey league playoff game.

The lawyer for the then-30-year-old Sidhu noted during sentencing arguments that jail time would mean the commerce graduate wouldn't be allowed to stay in Canada, where he has lived since following his partner who had come over in 2013.

A criminal conviction that carries a sentence of more than six months makes a permanent resident ineligible to remain in the country.

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The truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash a year ago was sentenced to eight years in prison when he appeared in a Melfort, Sask., court The report said Sidhu's view of the intersection was not impeded by any environmental factors like trees near the road or sun in his eyes.

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An immigration lawyer says Sidhu's bid has the makings of other cases where deportation was avoided.

“It’s very difficult to say how it’s going to go, but I do think this is one of those types of cases where (border services) could choose to exercise their discretion … given the exceptional circumstances," said Erica Olmstead, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, who's not representing Sidhu.

Lawyer Michael Greene, who is working with Sidhu, said last year his client has no prior criminal history, is well-educated, fluent in English and extremely remorseful.

He acknowledged Sidhu's crime had catastrophic consequences, but added his actions were not malicious.

Thomas said he's more concerned about regulations that allowed the inexperienced truck driver, three weeks on the job, to get behind the wheel.

“We just always felt that the deportation part of it shouldn’t necessarily apply. He’s a broken man. He’s broken psychologically and spiritually, and to deport him now would just add to the suffering to him and his family."

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Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the driver of the truck that struck the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team arrives with his lawyers Mark Brayford, left, and Glen The crash occurred as the Junior-A-level Broncos were en route to a playoff game in Nipawin, about a two-hour drive from Humboldt .

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Thomas forgave Sidhu in court and has since kept in touch with his wife, who has shared their emails with her husband.

Thomas said he knows Sidhu's desire to remain in Canada is divisive.

“There’ll be a lot of families that would never support this and there are going to be some that do, too.”

Olmstead said the deportation policy is there to protect Canada's security, but she has seen orders avoided when someone is guilty of a single offence as in Sidhu's case.

"But on the other hand, you’ve got this terrible tragedy where there were so many victims."

She explained that a border officer considers community connections and someone's chance of reoffending when writing a report, which could take months, and decides whether there are "exceptional circumstances" that would allow a person to remain in Canada.

"It’s quite rare for people to not then still get referred for a removal order.”

The Immigration and Refugee Board then holds a hearing to consider the report and is responsible for issuing any deportation order.

A permanent resident can appeal the board's decision on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but not if a sentence, like Sidhu's, is longer than six months.

“This is the end of the road for him," Olmstead said.

Sidhu could seek a review before a Federal Court, but would first need to be granted leave to do so, she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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