Friday, February 1, 2019

The Humboldt Broncos, Jaskirit Sidhu and Justice

The story of the Humboldt Broncos Hockey Club is simply gutting at every level of Canadian humanity. I say, "Canadian" humanity because we are dealing with a Junior A hockey team, and we as Canadians are etched in the game of hockey in our roots as a nation. So when you take a team of young men whose lives were altered in such a horrific accident, the hearts of the entire nation goes out to that entire community. Nobody doubts this.

But there are also two sides to this horrific story.

Jaskirit Sidhu, the driver of the truck who blew the stop sign and collided with the Humboldt bus, will be sentenced for pleading guilty to the numerous counts he was charged with in the accident. The court has spent this entire week hearing the victim statement reports and finally, Jaskirit Sidhu will face his sentence from the court on March 22, 2019. But while I was following this story, I couldn't help but see two polarizing views from this narrative

The first view was that of the prosecuting attorney for the crown, Thomas Healey who was visibly emotional when addressing the media today. Healey recommended 10 years prison time and repeatedly referred to Sidhu's actions as "criminal" for his "crimes" as if Sidhu had planned and executed this event.

As I sat with those words, I couldn't help but think they were too much. Certainly, I'm not downplaying the result of what happened. But I can't also help but believing Sidhu's actions weren't criminal in nature because I don't think anyone believes he had the intent of committing this action. I think the man made a driving mistake. A driving mistake we have all probably made, without the carnage.

I can look into my own life where I have been impaired behind the wheel. I say impaired because it covers all matters of sins. I don't believe there is a person out there who hasn't driven impaired at some point in their life. Why do I think this? Because the government just recently made distracted driving an offence, and we have all been guilty of it. -Texting, talking, eating, multi-tasking behind the wheel. I've done all of these. I've also been behind the wheel when I was falling asleep and eventually arrived at my destination with absolutely no idea of how I got there. Clearly, that could be considered impaired driving. Impaired doesn't simply mean under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

But, in all of these circumstances, I was lucky. I never hit anyone, caused any harm or damage, and only by the good graces of fortune did I avoid carnage. I was just as guilty, probably even more so than Jaskirit Sidhu, and yet, I was more fortunate in not getting caught by my impairment.

Which brings me to the point of justice.

How do you extract justice in the terms of a prison sentence in this case? The punishment for the crimes one is faced with is to act as a deterrent and a precedent for further cases before the court. For the life of me, I can't see what a prison sentence would solve here. Jaskirit Sidhu is in no way a threat to "re-offend" for his behaviour, and no reasonable person in the future would be able to use this as a manner in justifying their actions.

This was simply a horrific accident that demonstrates what can happen when you aren't fully present and take your mind of the task at hand. So anyone who is throwing their vitriol towards Sidhu for this better be taking personal inventory of their own lives.

One of the most surprising videos I watched came from Christina Haugan, the widow of  Humboldt coach, Darcy Haugan. In these few videos, you can see Christina's empathy for Jaskirit, knowing full well this was a terrible, unfortunate accident. Christina talks about the power of forgiveness and how she has forgiven Jaskirit Sidhu

So how will justice be served? Will it make the family and community feel better for Jaskirit Sidhu go to jail for 10 years? How many years would it take for him to be rehabilitated, or to "learn his lesson"? He's already waived his trial, admitted he was at fault, authentically apologized in the most humane way possible, he hasn't asked for a plea bargain, and he said he can't make it right, so he doesn't want to make things worse.

I think this man has just demonstrated all the qualities necessary in what we would want rehabilitation to look like. But now, he must be punished for people to feel like justice was served? That simply makes no sense.

The crown is asking for 10 years, the defence is saying anywhere from 1-4 years. My hope would be that this man be forgiven for making a simple human error that had catastrophic results that he will probably never be able to forgive himself for. I hope that these families find solace that he didn't do it with an ounce of malice. He was simply having a bad series of thoughts which distracted him from 4 stop sign warnings, and the stop sign itself.

We've all been distracted without the impact of the situation his lack of presence has caused, so I can't sit here and cast a stone at him. In fact, I feel terrible for this man. Jaskirit Sidhu will live in a self-induced prison for the rest of his days knowing one stupid moment caused such carnage and he can't reverse that. I think it's horrible. I think the situation is horrible, but I don't think he deserves going to prison for it.

Lastly, as always on social media, there's always a person intent on deriving their own twisted intent in projecting what they want to hear in any particular story, instead of what's really said or written. So to be clear, I will state this so there is no interpretation about what I mean.

I feel terrible for these kids, their families, their communities and all their Loved ones. This is just such a terrible story. I can't even imagine the hardships they've experienced every 5 seconds for the past 10 months since that fateful day. I hope that they all find forgiveness and peace for how they need to experience it for their own lives moving forward in what life holds for them.

To the memory of those lost in the Humboldt Broncos accident, to where you are...

For the Boys...