CALGARY — A decision on whether a former truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash should be deported to India likely won't be coming until the new year.
A lawyer for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, 33, had sent a voluminous amount of paperwork to the Canada Border Services Agency earlier this year arguing why he should be allowed to stay in Canada once his sentence has been served.
Sidhu was sentenced 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 Sidhu, a newly married permanent resident, had 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.
The Canada Border Services Agency is to write a report recommending whether he be allowed to stay in his adopted country or be deported. The deadline for the paperwork to be submitted was Nov. 28, but that has been delayed one month.
"Since it's been so long since we made our original submissions, they wanted to give us an opportunity to update our information with anything new before they made a decision," Calgary immigration lawyer Michael Greene said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
Greene said there's not a lot of new information to submit, but he wants to be thorough and has asked for some updated correctional reports.
"The psychologist is going to pay (Sidhu) another visit just to see if there's been any changes in his mental health that could affect his report," he said.
"We're confident we submitted a very strong package in the first place but, on the other hand, it's a difficult decision and we don't want to go back and say, 'Oh, we missed something that we should have had in there.'"
The 415 pages sent to the federal agency include letters from Sidhu's family, the public and three Broncos families, including Scott Thomas whose 18-year-old son, Evan, died in the crash.
"I know for a fact that (Sidhu) will 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,” Thomas said earlier this year.
Greene said he's surprised by the positive feedback in the case, especially after his client spoke to a few media outlets to tell his story.
"It's tough because I think most Canadians felt genuine pain and anguish for the victims and I expected that would result in a lot of anger, and it's surprisingly not been the case," Greene said.
"This never leaves (Sidhu) so he's battling his own post-traumatic stress as are so many people who've been touched by this. He's ... really committed to making something positive out of a terrible situation."
Chris Joseph, whose son Jaxon also died in the crash, is one of several Broncos families who have written letters asking for Sidhu to be deported. He said it's the law and laws are there for a reason.
"I can appreciate how 29 families can feel different ways about him but, in my view, the matter of deportation is not about forgiveness. It's not about how you feel about a person. It's not about whether you think he made a single mistake," Joseph said.
"If he's deported, I could maybe even toy with the idea of considering forgiveness. But if he's not deported, then we're going to be even more hurt and I don't think I'll ever get to that place."
Greene said his client has not sought parole and was only moved from medium security to minimum security at the end of August.
Either way, the lawyer said, Sidhu wouldn't be leaving the country immediately.
"There are other processes and he's not getting on a plane any time soon, even if they decide that's what they want to do."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2021.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press