Former Conservation officer Bryce Casavant takes a cub to a rehabilitation organization on Vancouver Island. (Youtube screenshot)

Former Conservation officer Bryce Casavant takes a cub to a rehabilitation organization on Vancouver Island. (Youtube screenshot)

B.C. union takes ex-conservation officer who refused to kill 2 bears back to court

Bryce Casavant ‘absolutely gutted’ over BCGEU’s decision to go back to court

A former B.C. conservation officer who was fired for refusing to kill two bear cubs is being taken back to court by his own union after winning a BC Court of Appeal decision earlier this year.

The BC Government and Employees’ Services Union (BCGEU), the union that represents conservation officers in B.C., has filed an application for leave to appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada and has served Bryce Casavant copies of the court applications, naming him as a respondent.

Casavant said he was “absolutely gutted” to receive the application.

“[The union] should be standing up for me and my family,” he said in a press release. “They should be supporting me. My family is being dragged back into very expensive litigation simply because a union is more interested in protecting its executive and lawyers than it is in representing its membership.”

Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU, said in an interview with the Alberni Valley News that the application is not about Casavant, but about the BC Court of Appeal’s decision, which has left other union members in a “labour relations limbo” as provincial special constables.

“They aren’t protected by their collective agreement and all the things we bargain for,” said Smith. “They are out on a limb with no clear direction as to how to go about a disciplinary process.”

In a later interview, Casavant pointed out that he has been named as a respondent in the court application.

“It most certainly is about me,” he said. “Why does their collective agreement take priority over my personal rights?”

Casavant says that BC conservation officers are considered special constables by the province and therefore should be governed under the province’s Police Act—not a union.

“Because [conservation officers] hold office, they’re not making decisions as an employee of a company,” he said. “It’s not a collective agreement matter. The courts do not want labour arbitrators determining what a constable’s duties are. It creates a framework where you could unlawfully remove constables from their position because you don’t like what they’re doing.”

However, Smith argues that the process outlined in the Police Act for provincial special constables is a “skeletal” one.

“We’re looking for clarity,” she emphasized. “We’re hoping that through appeal it will be determined that a union can represent its members during a disciplinary process and collective agreement language can be used.”

It was back in July 2015 when Casavant received a provincial kill order for two bear cubs while he was working as a BC Conservation Officer in Port Hardy. He declined the order and instead transported the cubs to a veterinarian and the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. The two cubs, later named Jordan and Athena, were eventually released back into the wild.

READ MORE: Bear cubs spared from death by conservation officer released into the wild

Casavant was fired over the incident, but after a five-year legal battle before the BC Labour Relations Board and the BC Supreme Court, the BC Court of Appeal finally sided with Casavant in a unanimous decision, ruling that the legal process was flawed and Casavant’s dismissal should be nullified.

READ MORE: Former BC conservation officer feels vindicated after appeals court nullifies dismissal

Casavant, who now lives in Port Alberni, said he has hired Arden Beddoes with Beddoes Litigation in Vancouver to prepare a formal response for filing in the Supreme Court of Canada. The deadline for this response is Oct. 15, but he is hoping to file it sooner.

“We’re basically going to argue that the union never raised this argument before the BC Court of Appeal,” said Casavant. “So why are they disputing it now?”

The Province of BC has also been named as a respondent by the union but has not filed its official position in court.

In the meantime, Casavant is still working out with lawyers whether or not he is still considered a conservation officer. Although the BC Court of Appeal said Casavant’s dismissal should be nullified, it did not order for him to be reinstated.

“My position is that the nullification means I should be back at work,” he said. “I’m in a little bit of a limbo.”



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

bearsConservationPORT ALBERNI

Just Posted

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

SD20 now has an electric bus. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay-Columbia School District 20 adds electric bus to fleet

Bus will be incorporated into Castlegar route for next school year

Painting by Dave Davies from Shaver’s Bench facing Teck Trail.
Happy 120th Birthday to the City of Trail!

The town of Trail Creek- or Trail Creek Landing - was incorporated as a city on June 14, 1901.

Cropped photo: Silver Screen Drive-in will be in the upper parking lot of Waneta Plaza.
Summer drive-in returns to Trail unveiling blockbuster movies

PHOTOS: Scroll to bottom for a trip down memory lane to the Auto Vue Drive-In

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Most Read