OTTAWA — A former Canadian passport officer once involved in a sensational spy scandal is now suing the government, alleging it broke the terms of a settlement agreement it reached with her in the aftermath.
Trina Kennedy was a passport security officer in 2014 when allegations surfaced that after being assigned to an RCMP national security team she had an affair with an Iranian-Canadian businessman the team was investigating.
The businessman, Arian Azarbar, then told multiple news outlets in Montreal and Ottawa that during their relationship, Kennedy had divulged that Canada provided a new identity and passport to an Israeli Mossad agent who had assassinated a top Hamas figure in 2010. A government source told the National Post at the time that the Mossad allegation was untrue.
Kennedy was reported to be suspended from duty while her relationship with Azarbar was investigated. The story then faded from the headlines.
But a newly filed lawsuit reveals some of the details of what happened in the following years. It says Kennedy filed grievances against the immigration department, and signed a confidentiality agreement as part of a settlement of those grievances. She then obtained a new security clearance and worked briefly in the Public Safety department before losing her security clearance again.
Kennedy is alleging immigration department employees breached that confidentiality agreement, causing her to lose her clearance, and thus her job.
The lawsuit does not say what the grievances involved or how Kennedy had been able to get a new security clearance despite the numerous media stories about the scandal.
“Although my client would love the opportunity to openly respond to all questions, she has chosen and is legally obliged as a result of (the settlement) to let the evidence and the testimonies, that will be made public in due time during the course of court proceedings, speak for itself,” said Kennedy’s lawyer Louise Morel in an email to the Post.
“No wrongdoing was the final outcome of the internal investigation,” Morel said when asked about the investigation into Kennedy’s relationship with Azarbar. She did not respond to a follow-up question about whether that meant there was no relationship.
The lawsuit says Kennedy filed two grievances against the immigration department (referred to as CIC/IRCC in the document). The department settled the matter by entering into a “Memorandum of Agreement” with Kennedy in October 2015.
The memorandum came with assurances that information about Kennedy’s security clearance wouldn’t be shared with other government departments, the lawsuit says.
“CIC/IRCC agreed to not initiate the distribution of information related to the Plaintiff’s reliability status to any other party,” the lawsuit says. (A reliability status means an employee has passed basic security screening.)
“If contacted by another Federal Government Department regarding the Plaintiff’s security status and clearance, CIC/IRCC would only confirm that the Plaintiff no longer had her security status and clearance.”
No wrongdoing was the final outcome of the internal investigation
The following spring, Kennedy applied for and was granted a new security clearance with the federal government. In September 2016, Kennedy started working for Public Safety Canada as a junior policy analyst.
Just two months later, however, Kennedy was informed that her security clearance was suspended “pending a review for cause.”
Kennedy alleges that between November 2016 and August 2017, “in explicit contravention of the terms and conditions of the Memorandum of Agreement, there were exchanges and transfers of unauthorized information between both current and former employees of CIC/IRCC and other departments and agencies within the Government of Canada.”
She says the suspension of her security clearance made it “no longer possible for her to carry on employment with Public Safety or within any other Government of Canada department or agency.”
The lawsuit seeks $1 million for loss of income and other benefits arising from the alleged breach of contract, plus punitive damages of $100,000 and unspecified other costs. It also seeks to have her relieved of the confidentiality provisions of the settlement.
The department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said it couldn’t comment on the case.
“IRCC takes all allegations of employee misconduct very seriously, however the Department cannot comment further on specific investigations into misconduct,” said its statement. “In addition, in accordance with the Privacy Act, the Department cannot discuss the details regarding individual employees.”
Azarbar, meanwhile, has been involved in several other bizarre scandals, including a case in which a Montreal police detective was accused of passing him internal information. Azarbar also sued the city over a leaked Montreal police document that had named him as a suspected Iranian spy, an allegation he denied.
He did not respond to a request for comment sent through a contact form on his website.
Azarbar’s claim that Canada had provided a new identity for a Mossad assassin referred to an operation that saw agents enter Dubai on false passports, slip into a five-star hotel, and kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas founder.
“There is no truth to these allegations that the government of Canada provided support to protect those wanted in the 2010 death of a Hamas leader,” a government official told the National Post on condition of anonymity in 2014.