Saskatchewan

Driver who caused deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash denied first bid to stay in Canada

The former truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash has been denied his latest bid to stay in Canada.

Immigration and Refugee Board confirms Jaskirat Singh Sidhu will now undergo admissibility hearing

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver who missed a stop sign and went into the path of the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team, leaves after the second day of sentencing hearings in 2019 in Melfort, Sask. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The former truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash has been denied his first bid to stay in Canada.

A senior communications advisor for Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) of Canada confirms that Jaskirat Singh Sidhu will now undergo an admissibility hearing.

A lawyer for Sidhu sent paperwork to the Canada Border Services Agency in 2021 arguing that Sidhu should not be deported once his sentence has been served.

Under federal law, a permanent resident convicted of a crime that holds a maximum sentence of at least 10 years is deported, with few avenues for appeal.

In these cases, the CBSA can consider an exemption based on personal circumstances, or refer the case to the IRB for an admissibility hearing.

Anna Pape, spokesperson for IRB, confirmed Sidhu's case has been referred to the IRB and a hearing to determine his admissibility will be scheduled. There is no deportation order for Sidhu at this time.

In the vast majority of cases like this, the IRB orders deportation. The immigration minister can intervene, but that is rare. There is an opportunity to ask the federal court for a judicial review of any deportation order, but only on the grounds that due process was not followed — and that would only restart the admissibility process.

If Sidhu is deported, he could still apply to return to Canada under humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Sidhu was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm in the April 2018 crash that killed 16 people and injured 13. Court was told Sidhu, a newly married permanent resident, missed a stop sign at a rural Saskatchewan intersection and drove into the path of the Broncos bus carrying players and staff to a junior hockey league playoff game.

Scott Thomas, father of deceased Broncos player Evan Thomas, said he's "disappointed but not surprised."

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu may be deported to India. (Susan Ormiston/CBC)

He said most of the Broncos families wanted Sidhu to be deported, and it is the law. That said, Thomas is still hoping there's a way for Sidhu to remain in Canada.

"We need to find better ways to train truck drivers. We need to find better ways to educate truck drivers. We need to find better ways to regulate truck drivers and the industry," Thomas said.

"I hoped Mr. Sidhu could have been a part of that, telling his story. With him gone and sent home, that conversation will be harder. I think we will miss that opportunity."

Carol Brons, mother of trainer Dayna Brons who died in the crash, said she is not surprised by the decision, but doesn't have an opinion. She said she's tried not to think too much about it.

"Some feel strongly one way or the other, but I'm not really sure how I feel about that," Brons said.

"I haven't really put my energy into it. I've put it on the shelf."

She said her family's efforts have gone into programs to honour Dayna's legacy, such as a safe roads initiative and a project that has already provided seven scholarships in Dayna's name.

The Herold, Joseph, Leicht, Cross and Hunter families, all parents of deceased Humboldt Broncos players, released a statement Wednesday.

"The Government of Canada (CBSA) has spoken and we support their decision and justice is served regarding Mr Sidhu," the statement said.

Chris Joseph is the father of Jaxon Joseph, who died in the crash. He also said that justice is being served. Joseph said the last four years have been painful and traumatic for him and his family, and March is always a difficult month for him, as it leads up to the anniversary of the crash. 

"My reasons for wanting him gone are to avoid more trauma," Joseph said of Sidhu. 

"Had it gone the other way, I always have to ask, where would the bar be set? How many people would you have to kill to be deported? I mean, if 16 isn't enough, then I don't know what is.

"Having said all that … I don't wish ill will on Mr. Sidhu. I just I do this for my own mental health and my own sanity, because it's too hard to go through this type of thing all the time."

Sidhu's lawyer responds

Sidhu's lawyer Michael Greene said Sidhu had only one real chance to plead his case, and it has been unsuccessful. Sidhu and his wife, who is a Canadian citizen, are devastated that his bid to stay in Canada was rejected, Greene said.

"I don't think that this decision reflects Canadian values. I don't think it reflects Canadian public opinion. I know that there are some people who are hostile, for sure there are," Greene said.

"But … public reaction, the following media coverage that we've received and that he's received, it has been overwhelmingly in his support and supporting that he be allowed to stay and that no purpose is served by deporting him and causing further harm."

Greene said they have not seen the reasons for the bid being turned down. A reason is not given unless the decision is challenged in federal court. 

"So we may have to bring a federal court challenge just to get the reasons to see if we have an arguable case so we could challenge the decision as being unreasonable or lacking due process or procedural fairness. But it's a tough test to me to challenge in federal court," Greene said. 

He said Sidhu and his wife will be looking at all options.

"We certainly don't want to fold our tent at this point."

Greene said he may apply to the courts for the report to see if he has grounds to ask for a judicial review. He may also ask the ministers of immigration and public safety to allow Sidhu to stay on humanitarian grounds.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said that the next step will be for the Canada Border Services Agency to make its recommendation and send a report to a minister's delegate, who will determine whether Sidhu should be referred to the Immigration Refugee Board (IRB) for an admissibility hearing. In fact, Sidhu’s case has been referred to the IRB and a hearing to determine his admissibility will be scheduled.
    Mar 09, 2022 3:50 PM CT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura is a journalist for CBC Saskatchewan. She is also the community reporter for CBC's virtual road trip series Land of Living Stories. Laura previously worked for CBC Vancouver. Some of her former work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, NYLON Magazine, VICE Canada and The Tyee. Laura specializes in health-care, arts, environmental and human interest coverage. She holds a master of journalism degree from the University of British Columbia. Follow Laura on Twitter: @MeLaura. Send her news tips at laura.sciarpelletti@cbc.ca

With files from Jason Warick and Karen Pauls

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