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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Paramedic Matthew Schlatter of Victoria is living a fuller life today due to the double lung transplant he received in 2019. He encourages B.C. residents to register as an organ donor and let their families know their wishes. (Instagram/Matthew Schlatter)
Victoria man living a full, active life after double lung transplant

Matt Schlatter encourages people to register as an organ donor to help others live

The District of North Saanich has issued a notice to remove this floating structure from the waters off Lillan Hoffar Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Boat owner ordered to vacate waters off North Saanich park

Couple have been living in floating structure off Lillian Hoffar Park for a number of years

Sign outside the currently closed McPherson Playhouse in Victoria. The Capital Regional District wants to determine how a regional performing arts venue service would operate and benefit current and future facilities in the CRD. (Black Press Media file photo)
Form, function of new Greater Victoria arts venue service to be determined

Majority at CRD board can approve select committee, final approval of service needs unanimous vote

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dancers, signholders show support for Fairy Creek in Victoria

A flash mob at the legislature and signs on an overpass

Wild Wise Sooke is urging the public to be bear aware. (Photo by Brian Rundle)
Wild Wise Sooke reminds public to be aware of bears

Residents asked to be mindful of their garbage habits, not to draw in wildlife

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dancers, signholders show support for Fairy Creek in Victoria

A flash mob at the legislature and signs on an overpass

Organ donation form from BC Transplant. (BC Transplant)
POLL: Have you registered as an organ donor?

They number 1.5 million strong and growing. But their numbers still fall… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 6

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

Most Read