Sex offender Steve Ewanchuk labelled 'vexatious litigant'

1 / 2

Sex offender Steve Ewanchuk labelled 'vexatious litigant'

Sex offender Steve Ewanchuk labelled 'vexatious litigant'

Notorious sexual predator Steve Ewanchuk now has a new designation: vexatious litigant.

Ewanchuk is currently serving 11 years in Bowden Institution for sexually assaulting an eight-year old girl.

It was the fifth sexual assault conviction for Ewanchuk, who is a designated long-term offender.

The former cabinet maker made national headlines in the Supreme Court of Canada "No means no" decision in 1999 that defined the issue of consent.

Ewanchuk filed a habeas corpus application in September to complain about prison conditions.

The purpose of a habeas corpus application is to free an illegally held prisoner. Court rules in Alberta dictate such applications take priority.

They go to the front of the line and a hearing must be scheduled for the first possible date. That can mean the delay or cancellation of other court cases.  

In a scathing 31-page decision this week, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Denny Thomas lambasted Ewanchuk for making what he described as "a mockery of a true habeas corpus application." 

"He has wasted judicial resources and denied other persons access to this court in a manner that is reprehensible," Thomas wrote.

"Speaking bluntly," he continued, "the fact Ewanchuk calls his lawsuits "habeas corpus" does nothing to disguise what these are. He is filing spurious civil actions against those whom he perceives are wrongdoers."  

Ewanchuk's complaints

Ewanchuk's application included a long list of complaints about prison life and demands for damages to be paid by Corrections Canada.

He complained about prison lockdowns and "other illegal detentions" when he was confined to his cell. Ewanchuk asked for "$129,600 for 48 days for residual loss during meal-time lock-ups and $280,000 for 70 days that would include illegal lockdowns."  

Thomas wrote: "Life in prison may necessarily involve periods where a prisoner is required to remain in a cell or other individual space. That is a part of a normal prison setting."  

Ewanchuk also complained about supposed mistreatment by Bowden Institution staff, especially one unit manager who he said yelled at him "as a form of intimidation."  

He said murderers are treated better than sex offenders, subjected to assaults by other inmates, and that "they are struck on the head with socks that contain rocks or tuna fish cans, which causes brain injury."   

Ewanchuk asked to be paid $100,000 for mental anguish.  

'The dreaded goo-lash'

Ewanchuk appeared to be especially concerned about the food he was served at Bowden, calling it "disgusting in taste and quality."

He also complained about a lack of butter and bananas, and of going days without salt and pepper.

"The goo-lash that is now considered meals is hard to decipher as to what it actually is," he said in his application.

In a separate statement of claim related to food concerns, Ewanchuk demanded $50,000 for every year he spent at Bowden.

Thomas rejected all of Ewanchuk's demands as "entirely unwarranted" and his actions as "obnoxious."

Personal attack on the judge

Thomas made headlines last year for his handling of the Travis Vader case, and Ewanchuk took notice.

In his written decision, Thomas noted, "Perhaps unsurprisingly, I am also a target of criticism."

Thomas quoted a statement Ewanchuk filed with the court last year.

"Just this last month we had a Justice in a murder trial rule by using a law that has been off the law books and repealed for some 20 years …This could only happen if a Justice is suffering from dementia or some other form of lost memory."

Ewanchuk suggested Thomas "should have been fired from his position. He wrote, "This is a Justice who needs to be removed from the bench."

Judge fires back

Thomas described the overburdened Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta as "stretched to the breaking point and arguably beyond that."

He noted the statistics "tell a grim tale." As of February, 2017 there was a one-year wait to book a one-day special chambers hearing, an eight-month wait to book a half day hearing, and a five-month wait just to get an hour of a judge's time.  

Thomas blasted Ewanchuk for wasting the court's time, for trying to "worm his way" around the waiting list by filing a "meritless application."

His solution was to declare Ewanchuk a vexatious litigant.

Thomas issued a court order that prohibits Ewanchuk from "commencing, or attempting to commence, or continuing any appeal, action, application or proceeding" without a judge's order.

He will only be allowed to file another habeas corpus application if he is represented by a lawyer.  

Thomas also ordered Ewanchuk to immediately pay $500 to cover costs incurred by federal lawyers to fight the failed habeas corpus application, which he described as "a gross misuse of procedure … nothing but a civil lawsuit in disguise."