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

Tofino welcome sign. (Westerly file photo)
Housing proposal highlights capacity concerns in Tofino

Water supply, school and hospital all cited as council urges caution in growth.

Developer Andrew McLane, right, digs a shovel in the ground of Lot 13 as mayor Mayco Noel cheers on the idea of bringing more housing to West Coasters. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet council approves development permit for 33-lot housing project

“Mr. McLane, we wish you nothing but luck and we are counting on you.”

Beach fire remains, like charred driftwood, have long been a point of contention in Tofino, but the town’s municipal council isn’t ready to ban beach fires just yet after receiving an unprecedented response from community members opposed to a prohibition. (Westerly file photo)
Blaze of opposition prompts Tofino’s council to delay beach fire ban decision

“The period of the year where this challenge is most acute is behind us now.”

Thaddeus Lenover kisses his mushroom picking partner Teagan Evans on the cheek after a rainy day out in the woods harvesting wild mushrooms. (Nora O'Malley photo)
Mushroom pickers say it’s less busy this year

Mushroom picking partners Thaddeus Lenover and Teagan Evans spent the better part… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall advisory for parts of Vancouver Island for Thursday and Friday.(File photo)
Snowfall expected in parts of Vancouver Island this week

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall advisory for north, east and inland Vancouver Island

More and more electric cars are on the road, but one Chevy Bolt owner was shocked to see how much his BC Hydro bill skyrocketed once he started charging the vehicle. (Black Press file photo)
Lower Mainland man sees significant spike in BC Hydro bill after buying electrical vehicle

An increase should be expected, but Brian Chwiendacz experienced a 200-plus per cent hike

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Anonymous YVR is an Instagram page that reviews restaurants and other establishments around B.C. based on how well they adhere to COVID-19 rules. (Instagram)
Anonymous Instagram page reviews COVID-19 safety measures at B.C. businesses

There are a number of public health orders various types of establishments must follow to slow virus’s spread

Jordan Naterer, an electrical engineer from Vancouver, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. (Facebook photo)
Search efforts to resume for missing Manning Park hiker; Trudeau speaks on case

PM says he’ll do what he can to ‘nudge’ efforts to find Jordan Naterer, yet has little leverage locally

Most Read