Smuggler’s Inn people smuggling charges challenged

Judge declares section of immigration act constitutionally invalid

The case of an American accused of smuggling people through his inn on the B.C.-Washington border has led to a section of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act being declared constitutionally invalid.

Robert Boule owns the Smuggler’s Inn located on the U.S. side of the American-Canadian border. The Smuggler’s Inn abuts Surrey’s 0 Ave. The border is indicated by marked rocks spanning the inn’s backyard.

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“The Smuggler’s Inn straddles the American-Canadian border, so it is possible to walk from the U.S. into Canada through the Inn’s backyard,” Justice Nitya Iyer said in a Nov. 27 ruling released Nov. 30.

The Crown alleged Boule assisted foreign nationals enter Canada from the United States through the inn, which is located on Canada View Drive in Blaine.

In April 2018, Boule was charged with nine violations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for his alleged involvement in helping foreign nationals enter Canada illegally between April 2016 and September 2017.

A few weeks later, he was arrested on a warrant when he entered Canada.

Boule, however, has challenged the constitutionality of a section of the act entitled “Human Smuggling and Trafficking.”

Boule, an American citizen, claims the law violates Charter of Rights and Freedoms section 7, which says, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Iyer agreed with Boule, saying the section of the act relating to three categories of conduct – humanitarian aid to undocumented entrants, mutual aid amongst asylum-seekers and assistance to family – was overly broad.

“I declare that s. 117 of the Act is of no force and effect to the extent that it is inconsistent with s. 7 of the Charter by reason of overbreadth,” Iyer said.


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