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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Cocaine-Smuggling Border Guard Sues Canada

VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - A border guard serving 15 years for cocaine smuggling claims in court that Canada unconstitutionally made him ineligible for early parole for his nonviolent crime.

Baljinder Singh Kandola sued the Canadian attorney general in B.C. Supreme Court.

Kandola was charged with six narcotics and weapons importation counts in 2007. He faced additional charges because he was a Border Services Officer with the Canada Border Services Agency.

He was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison in July this year.

But when he committed the crimes, Kandola says, Canada had an "accelerated parole review scheme" which allowed first-time, nonviolent offenders to become eligible for day parole after serving one-sixth of their sentence.

Canada abolished the scheme in March 2011 and retroactively applied the new legislation to offenders sentenced on or before the scheme was abolished, Kandola says.

"The plaintiff is a first-time federal offender serving a sentence for a nonviolent offence, and would have been eligible for release on APR day parole at one-sixth of his sentence, which would be approximately 2½ years from the commencement of his sentence," the complaint states. "Without APR, the plaintiff is eligible for regular day parole on January 4, 2017."

The retroactive application of the new legislation was declared unconstitutional and the Supreme Court of Canada this month refused to stay the finding, Kandola says.

"The APR scheme was in force when the plaintiff committed his offences [in] 2007, but was abolished on March 28, 2011," the complaint states. "In these circumstances, the plaintiff is entitled to the 'benefit of lesser punishment' which includes the parole ineligibility in force at the time he committed his offences."

Kandola is represented by Eric Purtzki of Gratl Purtzki of Vancouver.

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