Truck driver who caused deadly Broncos crash loses latest bid to stay in Canada

Truck driver who caused deadly Broncos crash loses latest bid to stay in Canada © Provided by The Canadian Press

Ajudge dismissed applications Thursday from the truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash and was fighting deportation back to India.

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu was sentenced to eight years in prison for causing the 2018 crash in Saskatchewan that killed 16 people and injured 13 others. He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving charges.

The rookie Calgary trucker, a newly married permanent resident, barrelled through a stop sign at a rural intersection near Tisdale, Sask., and drove into the path of the bus carrying the junior hockey team to a playoff game.

Sidhu was granted parole earlier this year. The Canada Border Services Agency had recommended he be deported.

Sidhu’s lawyer, Michael Greene, argued before Federal Court in September that border services officials didn’t consider Sidhu’s previously clean criminal record and remorse, asking for the agency to be order to conduct a second review.

“The facts underlying Mr. Sidhu’s applications to this court were devastating for everyone involved. Many lives were lost, others were torn apart, and many hopes and dreams were shattered,” Chief Justice Paul Crampton wrote in his decision.

“Unfortunately, nothing this court decides can change much of those truly tragic consequences.”

Crampton said border officials were fair in their assessment, and addressed both Sidhu’s record and “extraordinary degree of genuine, heart-wrenching remorse.”

“The officer’s decision was appropriately justified, transparent and intelligible,” Crampton wrote. “It also reflected an internally coherent and rational chain of analysis, and meaningfully engaged with the key issues raised by Mr. Sidhu.”

He said Sidhu now faces removal to India, after spending years of hard work establishing a life with his wife in Canada.

The judge added that Sidhu can still ask for permanent resident status on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Greene said the ruling doesn’t come as a total surprise and Sidhu was aware it was an “uphill battle” from the beginning.

The lawyer said a recent court ruling about the rights of individuals with permanent residency was the final blow.

“The Federal Court of Appeal came down with a decision in June regarding a different provision of the Immigration Act, which basically said permanent residents have no rights to have their circumstances considered before they’re deported,” he said.

“They have no more rights than a foreign national.”

Greene said Sidhu plans to apply to have his permanent resident status reinstated on humanitarian grounds.

“Now it’s the Immigration and Citizenship (Department) that will decide. It’s a different agency entirely with a different mandate and different considerations,” Greene said.

“The next step is a deportation hearing. Hopefully, the government will let him stay while that’s being considered, because they could push on and deport him in the process.”

Greene said he has met with Sidhu and Sidhu’s wife, who are disappointed but will “soldier on.”

The couple had a son in April.

“He has had a host of medical problems. He spent four months in the neonatal ICU in open heart surgery. His heart stopped beating,” Greene said.

“They have all of that to deal with on top of this (deportation).”

Toby Boulet, whose 21-year-old son, Logan, was killed in the crash, said his family understands the way it works in the criminal justice system.

“We’ve never asked for Mr. Sidhu to be locked up for 75 years to rot in jail,” he said from Lethbridge, Alta. “That’s never been our intention.”

However, Boulet said that he and his family want to move forward with their lives and that means having Sidhu go away.

“In this case, that means deportation,” he said.

Boulet said he doesn’t want to sound bitter about Sidhu having a child.

“If they had a child, that’s wonderful,” he said, “But, at the same time, he was directly responsible for 16 families not having a child anymore. So, you don’t get to just say ‘I’m sorry’ and say ‘my bad’ and then everything is good. It doesn’t work that way.”

Chris Joseph of St. Albert, Alta., whose 20-year-old son, Jaxon, was killed in the crash, had been calling for the deportation.

“It’s the right decision and sends the right message,” Joseph said of Thursday’s ruling.

“It’s been five years of pain for our family and many other families … for all of us, it’s been ongoing pain that’s never left.”

Michelle Straschnitzki of Airdrie, Alta., whose son Ryan was paralyzed from the chest down in the crash, said she’s glad Sidhu has been working to better his life. But it doesn’t change the effect on the Bronco families.

“The horror of the images and lives shattered doesn’t diminish with time ‘served.’ For all of us, this is a life sentence,” she said.

“We don’t have any petitions for compassion. What is done is done.”

— With files from Colette Derworiz in Calgary

Source: Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press