The Canadian government wants a U.S. court to toss out a lawsuit that accuses it of ruining the life of a British Columbia woman, who alleges it knowingly gave false information to the FBI and American border services that branded her a terrorist and an arms dealer.
A document filed in U.S. district court in Seattle by the Canadian government says the legal dispute has no place being heard outside of Canada because it was filed by a Canadian against Canadian defendants.
Perienne de Jaray is the former executive vice-president and co-owner of Apex USA, previously a multimillion-dollar subsidiary of electronics maker Apex Canada, which her father launched.
De Jaray contends in a legal submission that the Canadian government’s actions were motivated by a desire to appease the U.S. administration by proving it could robustly enforce U.S. arms export restrictions, which she argues could help Canada’s defence companies gain trade exemptions and secure access to lucrative American defence contracts.
None of the allegations have been proven in court. The lawsuit names the federal attorney general, Canada Border Services Agency and Global Affairs, as well as several bureaucrats.
The federal government declined comment on behalf of all the agencies and the named individuals in the lawsuit, saying it does not comment on matters before a court.
A complaint for damages filed earlier this year says Apex USA was forced to fold after the Canadian government passed along information to the FBI alleging the company illegally shipped weapons-grade electronics to Hong Kong in late 2008, which later turned out to be false.
The Canadian government admitted it was wrong in 2013 and dismissed the charges, later paying de Jaray’s father an unknown amount to settle a civil lawsuit, the document says.
De Jaray’s lawyer, Janis Puracel, said in an interview that an American court is the proper venue to hear the grievance because much of the harassment took place on U.S. soil and ultimately resulted in her client no longer being allowed to live in the country.
Additionally, she said the government’s suggestion of Canada as a “suitable alternate forum” to hear the complaint contradicts earlier, informal communications that de Jaray’s lawsuit would be barred in Canada under the statute of limitations because too much time has passed.
“Basically, what we’ve ended up in is a position where she doesn’t have relief in a Canadian court and she doesn’t have relief in an American court,” Puracel said. “So we’re stuck in this limbo in between, based on their argument.”
Her court submission refers to Canadian investigators dropping off business cards and meeting with U.S.-based employees of Apex in the U.S.
“(De Jaray’s) claims arise out of defendants’ unlawful acts to engage U.S. authorities, which allowed defendants to gain access to plaintiff’s employees, customers and suppliers on U.S. soil,” a court document says.
“It was that conduct that ultimately destroyed (de Jaray’s) life, work and ability to lawfully stay in the United States.”
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Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press