Pain. Unrestricted pain accompanied by a feeling of woeful helplessness.
We watched, across Canada, as family members of the dead and the injured filed into a temporary Saskatchewan courtroom to attend a multi-day sentencing hearing for Jaskarit Singh Sidhu, the inexperienced truck driver and cause for the suffering we have borne largely distant witness to.
The setting was all too familiar. A bus filled with superior young athletes and associated members of the Humboldt Broncos travelling party in a scene repeated thousands of times across Canada each hockey season. A road trip. Then the horror.
In its totality, the sentencing hearing underscored what we all at least viscerally understood. The horridly cruel moment at the intersection of highways 335 and 35, known as Amley Corner, northeast of Saskatoon, need never have happened.
An inexperienced semi-truck driver who testified his driver training was completed in approximately a week, after which he passed a required test, was licensed and authorized to drive massive transport trucks.
After two weeks with a partner, driver Singh Sidhu ventured out alone.
Last weekend I spoke with Carol and Lyle Brons, parents of 24-year-old Humboldt Broncos athletic therapist Dayna. Carol Brons, who has said “our pain can’t mean nothing,” wants what is so utterly reasonable: proper extensive and mandatory training for big rig drivers, perhaps supplemented by a graduated licencing system.
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Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau and his provincial counterparts have taken the first steps. National Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) is to go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance supports this and wants more. I will speak with CTA president Stephen Laskowski about the Alliance’s recommendations on Saturday.
That Singh Sidhu pleaded guilty to all charges has no doubt eased the burden on his victim’s families. Some family members have forgiven Sidhu. The prosecution is asking for a 10-year prison sentence.
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What is difficult to understand is why the judge has determined sentencing must wait until March 22. It seems to be an unnecessary lengthy delay and will serve to add stress for families and friends of Sidhu’s victims.
Since Singh Sidhu is a foreign national convicted of a serious criminal offence. He will be ordered deported from Canada. However, even with a deportation order against him, Singh Sidhu will remain eligible for parole and unless he consents, will be ineligible for removal until the sentence expiry date.
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.