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Sentencing hearing this week for U.S. inn owner who admitted to helping 7 enter Canada illegally

Smuggler’s Inn owner Robert Boule entered guilty plea at start of trial
A sign erected at the Smuggler’s Inn in April 2019 reads: “Warning: It is illegal to enter Canada directly from Smugglers Inn Property. The owner is bound by a court order to report to Canadian authorities the identity of anyone who enters Canada illegally from this property.” (Aaron Hinks file photo)

A sentencing hearing is to get underway Thursday morning (Dec. 16) in Vancouver for the U.S. inn owner who was arrested 2.5 years ago in connection with helping people illegally enter Canada from the U.S. between April 2016 and March 2019.

The hearing was set after Robert Boule – owner of the Smuggler’s Inn – pleaded guilty in August “for his role in aiding and abetting the illegal entry” of seven foreign nationals, Public Prosecution Service of Canada spokesperson Nathalie Houle confirmed Wednesday.

The plea was made on the first day of trial, which had been scheduled to be held from Aug. 10 to Sept. 3.

Arrested in April 2019, Boule – whose bed-and-breakfast is located on the U.S. side of 0 Avenue, at 184 Street – was initially facing a total of 30 charges, however, nine were stayed in June of that same year.

The following month, an application by Boule to have the Canadian government fund his defence was granted. The “Rowbotham application” is an option for people “facing serious and complex criminal charges,” who have been denied legal aid and can’t afford a lawyer.

READ MORE: Canadian government to fund defence of Smuggler’s Inn owner

READ MORE: Blaine inn owner’s challenge of immigration act fails

Last year, Boule lost a constitutional challenge of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, in which he had alleged that three sections infringed his Sec. 7 charter rights – the right to life, liberty and security of the person – “because they are overbroad, arbitrary and vague, and they cannot be justified under s.1 of the Charter.”

In rendering that decision, Madam Justice Nitya Iyer disagreed that the challenged sections are arbitrary and vague, but concluded that two are “unconstitutionally overbroad.”

Her ruling that a third is “constitutionally sound,” cleared the way for a trial to proceed.

Houle said Wednesday that in addition to pleading guilty to “all facts encompassed by one count under s. 131 of the IRPA,” Boule also pleaded guilty to one count of breaching the terms of his recognizance. His sentencing hearing, set for two days, is to address both, she added.
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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