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

Pitt Meadows United Church has a new Expression Station, to create a record of people’s feelings during this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Special to The News)
Closed by COVID-19, Pitt Meadows church offers Expression Station

Say what you need to say in this pandemic time, offers United Church

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Feb. 28

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

On Monday, March 1, 2021, Maple Ridge is hosting an information session on Choose to Move, a fitness program for people 65 and older. (Maple Ridge image)
Maple Ridge seniors invited to information session on free fitness program

Learn about the program for those 65 and older on Monday, March 1

Phyllis Neufeld was on the Alouette River dike in Pitt Meadows on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, when she took this photo. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Sun breaks through a rainy Pitt Meadows sky

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

The artwork is by Caitlin Legault who is not the only local person grateful to those who work in health care. A local letter writer recently had to go to hospital and wanted everyone there to know that their efforts are appreciated. (Special to The News)
LETTER: Pitt Meadows letter writer grateful for all those who cared for her at hospital

Staff in every department worthy of praise, local woman says

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for missing Chilliwack woman sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother Shaelene Bell

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read