WATCH: A Victoria man who won a human rights case against the federal government says he has yet to receive the settlement he’s owed. Ceilidh Millar reports.
For more than a decade, Chris Hughes has been fighting a legal battle against the federal government that he says has left him homeless and without a job.
“I’m financially ruined,” Hughes said in an interview with CHEK News. “I had to sell my house in 2014.”
In 2005, Hughes applied for a job with Transport Canada as a marine intelligence analyst at the Esquimalt naval base near Victoria.
The position was created after Sept. 11 to identify potential threats from cargo or crew aboard incoming foreign vessels.
According to legal documents presented to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Hughes was the top contender for the position, but his positive scores and reviews by his Transport Canada interviewers were altered or even erased after Hughes admitted to suffering from depression during the interview.
Hughes says he developed the depression after facing fallout from being a whistleblower at previous positions while working for the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency.
“It ruined my career,” Hughes explained.
Hughes filed a human rights complaint against Transport Canada in 2008.
In 2014, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal took on the case and ordered the two sides to agree on a remedy or it would be forced to impose one.
Transport Canada subsequently appealed the decision, but lost in Federal Court in 2016.
In June 2018, the tribunal ruled in Hughes’ favour, ordering Transport Canada to reinstate the job Hughes would have been given as well as compensation as high as $500,000.
However, Hughes says he has yet to receive any of the settlement.
Murray Rankin, MP for Victoria, calls the move by the federal government “bizarre” and “unfathomable.”
“It’s just beyond my understanding how the federal government, who has lost a case before an independent tribunal, where there has been findings of discrimination against this individual, hasn’t paid up,” Rankin said.
In a statement received by CHEK News, Transport Canada said because “the legal matter is before the court, they have nothing else to add.”
“He’s living a nightmare,” Rankin explained.
There’s also a catch — the position Hughes is owed by Transport Canada is subject to high-security clearance.
Hughes said he may have trouble getting the clearance because of his financial situation.
“I have to wonder if they are deliberately trying to force me to bankruptcy, so they can then say ‘we can’t hire you.'” Hughes explained.
Over the last twelve years, Hughes said he has worked odd jobs but the legal battle has left him deep in debt.
Hughes says if the matter isn’t resolved soon, he will take on a hunger strike as a final plea for help.
“My faith in the justice system and the government is gone.” Hughes said. “It’s completely gone.”