E-mail this article to
yourself or a friend.
Enter address:


Former grain inspector sues over career loss

(Friday, Feb. 28, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Adrian Ewins, Western Producer, 02/20/03: A former inspector with the Canadian Grain Commission has launched a $1.6 million lawsuit alleging that he was the victim of a conspiracy to prevent him from being hired as an assistant grain commissioner in 1998.

The statement of claim, filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Thunder Bay last fall by David Lewicki, names a number of defendants, including the CGC, former chief commissioner Barry Senft, federal agriculture minister Lyle Vanclief and employees of Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.

The statement alleges that Lewicki was targeted because he had publicly criticized Canadian Grain Commission policies and had acted as a "watchdog for grain producers and a whistle blower" on behalf of farmers.

"The plaintiff pleads that the defendants ... unlawfully conspired to interfere with the plaintiff's application to be considered for appointment as an assistant commissioner of the CGC," according to the claim, filed with the court Sept. 6, 2002.

A statement of claim is a legal document containing unproven allegations by a plaintiff that have not yet been tested in court or accepted as evidence.

Standard legal procedure calls for defendants to file statements of defence in which they respond to the allegations contained in the statement of claim. As of last week, no statements of defence had yet been filed in the Lewicki case, according to a court official in Thunder Bay, who did confirm that the case is proceeding.

Lewicki's lawyer refused to discuss the case.

Canadian Grain Commission spokesperson Paul Graham declined to comment, saying the commission's defence is being handled by lawyers from the federal department of justice. He did say that lawyers for the defendants have been seeking more clarification from the plaintiff before filing statements of defence.

A spokesperson for Vanclief also declined comment because the case is before the courts.

The 25-page statement of claim outlines a series of events dating back to Jan. 15, 1998, when Lewicki, who had worked for the commission for more than 17 years, applied to be appointed assistant grain commissioner.

Lewicki, who had appeared before parliamentary committees on several occasions and spoken to farm groups about CGC issues, said in the statement of claim that Senft didn't want him to get the job because of Lewicki's public criticisms that the agency was more concerned about the welfare of grain companies than farmers.

He said he was targeted for harassment in the workplace and was the subject of "spurious" complaints about his activities and job performance, which led to disciplinary actions including suspensions, all of which he says were designed to destroy his reputation and prevent him from being hired.

He also said his job application and resume that he sent to the minister's office was intentionally interfered with to ensure it did not receive proper consideration in the hiring process.

The statement of claim said that prior to the actions of the defendants Lewicki's prospects of being hired were "very good."

As a result of the "unlawful conspiracy," Lewicki's career as a grain inspector has been irreparably damaged and his future in the career of his choice has been compromised, the claim said.

"The plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer ongoing and permanent economic loss," according to the statement. It also claims emotional trauma and injury.

The lawsuit is seeking general damages of $1 million, aggravated damages of $250,000, punitive damages of $250,000, and special damages of $100,000, as well as interest and legal costs.

Besides Senft, Vanclief and the grain commission, the other defendants are: Diane Shapiro, director of human resources for the CGC, and Patric Hunt, Rod Tondevold and Ronald Weik, employees of Sask Pool at the time in question. The suit alleges that the pool employees were involved in creating complaints about Lewicki.