Court proceedings for Blaine bed-and-breakfast owner Robert Boule – who is facing nearly two dozen human smuggling-related charges – are underway this week in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.
According to Public Prosecution Service of Canada spokesperson Nathalie Houle, two weeks (Sept. 14-25) are set aside to hear the accused’s challenge of the constitutionality of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) – the law he is accused of breaking.
He is alleging that three sections of the IRPA infringe on Sec. 7 of the charter – the right to life, liberty and security of the person, Houle said.
“The remainder of the criminal trial will proceed on a date to be determined,” Houle added in a Sept. 16 email response to Peace Arch News’ inquiries.
Boule is the owner of the Smuggler’s Inn, located on the south side of 0 Avenue at 184 Street, on the U.S. side of the border.
Arrested in April 2019, he is accused of helping people illegally enter Canada at the U.S. border, and is facing nine charges under the IRPA, as well as 12 charges under Sec. 145(3) of the Criminal Code for breach of bail.
The offences are alleged to have occurred between April 2016 and March 2019.
Boule was initially facing a total of 30 charges, however, nine were stayed in June 2019.
In July of last year, an application by Boule to have the Canadian government fund his defense 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.
Boule’s trial had initially been set for Jan. 13 to Feb. 5 of this year, but was moved at the request of the defence after his lawyer was appointed to the bench.