A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

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.

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 every day 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.

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.

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

“ 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.

But some other parents do not support Sidhu’s attempt to stay in Canada.

READ MORE: Truck driver responsible for Humboldt Broncos crash seeks to stay in Canada

Chris Joseph, whose son Jaxon died in the crash, said he intends to send a letter to the Canada Border Services Agency asking for the deportation to go ahead.

Joseph said he doesn’t want the world to think that all of the families support Sidhu.

“I don’t think the rules should be bent again for him to allow him to stay in the country,” Joseph said.

“I don’t doubt that he lives with regret every single day. I’m not sure that his staying in Canada is best for him.”

Michelle Straschnitzki and her husband Tom have a constant reminder of the accident. Their son Ryan is paralyzed from the chest down as a result of the crash.

“I’m not in any way trying to be punitive but absolutely the law is the law and it’s not special for anybody else,” she said.

“I wish I could be more forgiving but we never want this to happen again and there’s got to be consequences. I do feel sorry for his family.”

Sidhu’s lawyer, Michael Greene, acknowledges his client’s crime had catastrophic consequences but his actions weren’t malicious.

Greene notes Sidhu wasn’t impaired, has a low likelihood to reoffend, and deporting him would also mean deporting his wife.

“This offence was more of a tragedy than it was a crime,” Greene said Wednesday.

He said he has been overwhelmed with letters in support of Sidhu, including from a retired judge, some of which he submitted to border services.

“The main thing we’re up against is the perception that … it would be offensive to the victims and their families and/or the Canadian public to allow him to stay given the magnitude of the tragedy.”

“We want to show that … the Canadian public is not hell-bent on giving him further punishment.”

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.”

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

Thomas realizes 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.”

Greene said support has come from some other Broncos families, but they asked to remain anonymous so as not to upset others.

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.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Humboldt Broncos

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Oliver Municipal Aiport runway will be extended in spring 2021. (Oliver Municipal Airport / Facebook)
Oliver airport runway to be extended

The extension will be funded through a provincial grant

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

BC Housing has proposed that the emergency winter shelter at Victory Church at 352 Winnipeg Street be extended as a shelter until March 31, 2022. It was originally intended to be open until April 1, 2021. (Jesse Day - Western News)
One more year of ‘temporary’ homeless shelter in Penticton?

BC Housing has applied to extend Victory Church as a shelter for those experiencing homelessness

The Wrong Turn Tavern in Keremeos is for sale. (Facebook)
Popular Keremeos tavern up for sale

Owner Liza Sanders is selling The Wrong Turn Tavern for $800,000

Walter Makepeace was shocked to find two of his beehives were missing from his Keremeos acreage Feb. 20, 2020. (Contributed)
Allegedly stolen beehives create buzz in Keremeos

Walter Makepeace was shocked to see two beehives had gone missing from his property

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here are the stories that made waves in the Okanagan-Shuswap

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021
Kamloops-Thompson school district drafts new dress code policy after students sent home

The new policy is being created after a NorKam secondary student was sent home because of what she was wearing

Most Read