The Federal Court has ordered the Canadian Human Rights Commission to re-examine a discrimination complaint against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), brought by a former informant and child soldier who claims the spy agency cost him security work on Parliament Hill. .
Kagusthan Ariaratnam had applied to work for the Parliamentary Protective Service in 2016, but was rejected on security grounds following a meeting between House of Commons and CSIS officials, during which the spy agency revealed two classified documents that spoke of Ariaratnam’s mental health, court records show.
Ariaratnam had contact with CSIS in the 2000s about the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, more commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, which he had joined as a teenager while living in Sri Lanka, according to court records.
After he was rejected for the Parliamentary seat, he complained to CSIS, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), and the human rights commission, and got nowhere.
“I felt betrayed, basically [CSIS] “They stabbed me in the back,” Ariaratnam, now 50, told Breaking:. “I gave them a lot of information.”
But on Friday, Federal Court Judge Janet Fuhrer ordered the commission to re-examine its complaint against CSIS, which alleges discrimination based on mental health.
Ariaratnam “has fulfilled his responsibility to demonstrate that the Commission’s decision is unreasonable,” the Führer wrote in his ruling.
The commission dismissed the complaint after concluding that the matter had already been addressed by the NSIRA, which rejected its complaint in 2020.
Fuhrer found “inconsistency” in the commission’s reasoning, saying that it had “unintelligibly” determined that the complaints to the commission and the NSIRA were identical, although he acknowledged that Ariaratnam had not raised any human rights issues in his submissions to the latter.
Ariaratnam was working for a private security company in 2016 in Ottawa when he applied for a position working with the Parliamentary Protective Service.
The job required “site access authorization,” which in turn required a CSIS security check.
Ariaratnam’s lawyer, Nicholas Pope, of the Ottawa law firm Hameed Law, said the commission used a “very fine rationale” to dismiss Ariaratnam’s claim.
Pope said the case is part of a broader pattern at the commission that is dismissing cases if they “at least touch” any other administrative proceedings.
“I think the commission is under-resourced and overworked,” he said.
In its legal arguments, the commission argued, through Canada’s Attorney General, that it “struggled significantly” with the complaint and that its decision to dismiss it was “reasonable” because the spy watchdog had conducted a “serious investigation.” “.
Ariaratnam’s complaint to NSIRA alleged that CSIS had improperly used information to present him as a security threat.
The intelligence watchdog ruled against him because the House of Commons had rejected his request, not CSIS. However, CSIS acknowledged during a hearing that the spy agency’s top management would not have approved the release of the classified documents about Ariaratnam.
The writings, from 2006 and 2009, were written in connection with Ariaratnam’s ongoing immigration process. He now he is a Canadian citizen.
“CSIS recognizes that the manner in which certain information was shared would not have been approved by the administration and would not be shared in that manner today,” NSIRA said in its 2020 ruling.
“However, CSIS maintains that it had the authority to share the information in question and that it was relevant to contextualize the other open source information.”
That NSIRA ruling said Ariaratnam had a prior “relationship” with CSIS and had been “previously interviewed by the service.”
The Federal Court ruling said Ariaratnam “provided CSIS with intelligence information about the [Tamil Tigers] for a few years, until he suffered a mental illness that he claims was orchestrated or caused by CSIS.”
The federal government classifies the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist organization. They fought for decades to separate from Sri Lanka and create an independent homeland for Tamil Hindus.
A heavily redacted internal CSIS memo about Ariaratnam (classified as “secret” and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act) says he was in contact with the spy agency on “several occasions.”
Ariaratnam says the security job on Parliament Hill would have been life-changing. It would have given her a substantial increase in her minimum security guard salary, which is a ceiling she has yet to surpass, she said.
“It was depriving me financially. It affected my mental and financial well-being, my quality of life,” said Ariaratnam, who is currently enrolled in a digital journalism course at the University of Ottawa.
“My entire family’s marriage fell apart. So many things happened that I still wonder why the Canadian government treated me like this, even though I fully assisted the Canadian authorities.”