The federal Justice Department has been ordered by the British Columbia Appeal Court to reconsider the extradition of an Aboriginal man to the United States because it says the minister failed to factor in Canada’s historical mistreatment of Indigenous families.
Glenn Sheck, a member of the Bonaparte Indian Band in B.C., is accused of money laundering in the United States and last year then-federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who is Indigenous, ordered the extradition.
Writing for the two-to-one majority in the decision released Friday, Justice Susan Griffin says the minister failed to consider the highly relevant factors of the separation of the Indigenous man from his four children and the Canadian history of separating Indigenous parents and children.
Griffin says had the minister considered those factors, she may have concluded it would be unjust to extradite a man to face a likely sentence of 27 years in prison when a sentence in Canada would be in the range of two to four years.
“…The resultant destruction of Indigenous communities, which, in some ways, may have contributed to Mr. Sheck’s alleged criminality, were important factors in informing the minister’s view of whether surrender was unjust or oppressive, or would shock the conscience,” the decision says.
“This would have been especially so had the minister engaged in an accurate appraisal of the much longer separation from his children that Mr. Sheck faces if sentenced in the U.S. instead of in Canada.”
No one from the Department of Justice was immediately available to comment on the court decision.
The United States alleges Sheck acted as a money broker, directing proceeds of drug trafficking involving more than $7 million.
It claims Sheck directed the pick up and delivery of large amounts of money in America, Canada and the Dominican Republic.
The court decision says the minister didn’t consider Sheck’s personal family circumstances and his children’s best interests.
“Nowhere did she consider the impact on them, as Indigenous children who bear the legacy of government-sponsored separation of Indigenous parents and children, of having their only Indigenous parent separated from them for potentially decades longer if he was to be prosecuted and sentenced in the U.S. as opposed to in Canada.”
In a dissenting decision, Justice Mary Saunders says to set aside the ruling would improperly interfere with the government’s decision.
Saunders says to conclude that the minister short-changed her consideration of Sheck’s Aboriginal heritage ignores the substance of her ruling.
“As I read her decision, the minister fully recognized the Aboriginal context of the request but determined, considering Canada’s international commitments and the seriousness of the offences charged, that Mr. Sheck’s extradition was warranted in any event.”
Terri Theodore , The Canadian Press