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

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Home is where you know your neighbours

My mom has lived at that address for 43 years.

A rockfall closed Finlayson Arm Road and West Shore Parkway on Friday (March 5) afternoon. (Twitter/BC Transportation)
UPDATED: Malahat reopens following rockfall

Section of Trans-Canada Highway was scheduled for intermittent closures today for rock scaling work

In years past in-person ceremonies have been held for International Women’s Day. This year the observance is going online on Monday, March 8, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (file photo)
Virtual ceremony for Women’s Day in Cowichan on Monday

Audrey George, manager of the Ts’i’ts’uwatul’ Lelum assisted living facility, will be keynote speaker.

North Cowichan councillor Rob Douglas is advocating for a pilot project that would see the forest industry on Vancouver Island and the coast managed regionally. (File photo)
N. Cowichan councillor continues push for regional management of forestry

North Cowichan councillor wants pilot project established

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

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

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

Most Read