ABBOTSFORD- A Matsqui Institution prison guard who was fired after being convicted of sexual assault wants his job back. Balkar Basra, found guilty of date-raping a 21-year-old student in 2004, is grieving his suspension and dismissal from the Correctional Service of Canada.
“[Basra] is a registered sex offender seeking his job back as a corrections officer,” Christine Langill, counsel for the employer, told the adjudicator at a Public Service Labour Relations Board hearing in Abbotsford Wednesday.
His return will pose a risk to himself and his colleagues and damage public trust and the reputation of the federal agency, she said.
Basra was originally suspended without pay after his bosses received word of the allegations against him in March 2006. He appealed the suspension to the board and won on the grounds Corrections took too long to complete its internal review.
He was reinstated to Matsqui in September 2007 with back pay and benefits plus interest. He was placed in admissions and discharge, a role with limited interaction with inmates and staff.
He was suspended again in June 2008 after a federal court quashed the board’s decision.
He was then convicted of sexual assault the next month and sentenced to two years less a day. He received his letter of termination June 2009.
Three employees testified at the hearing they feel uncomfortable and outraged at the prospect of working with Basra because he is a convicted sex offender. They stressed that there is a need in their workplace to know their colleagues have their backs
“There is a level of trust you have to have,” said a training co-ordinator. “I don’t know how I can have that trust with someone who has been convicted.
A corrections officer testified she is “flabbergasted” Basra’s return is even being discussed.
“It would embarrass me to work for Corrections if that were the case,” she said. “There are jobs in this world — RCMP, Corrections — that have to be held to a higher standard.”
The adjudicator also heard testimony Matsqui inmates dislike sexual offenders — so much so that the institution does not accept inmates with a history of sexual offences because they would get assaulted.
The acting deputy warden at the time testified she heard reports of inmates inquiring about Basra’s identity in the days following media reports published about his return to work in 2007.
During cross-examination, counsel for the union James Baugh confirmed no complaints were lodged against Basra during his reinstatement to work.
According to risk assessment reports, management did not find it necessary to transfer Basra to another facility or take him out of active service, he noted.
Baugh argued Basra should be reinstated to his position because he has served his time.
“It is important to leave those avenues open to people who have served their time … so they can be productive members of society, Baugh said.” Counsel for the union is expected to call two employees as witnesses for Basra. Basra may take the stand.
The hearing continues.
Courtesy of The Province Newspaper.