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)

Union takes former 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 BC 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 BC, 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

West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni received some good news about an expansion to its emergency department on Jan. 15, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

The site of the former Arrowview Hotel, on Second Avenue and Athol Street, as of Jan. 14, 2020. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni pressures Arrowview Hotel owner for final cleanup

Demolition finished in June 2020 but site still full of construction material

A Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation guardian took this photo of dozens of vehicles parked along a forest service road in the Kennedy watershed. (Submitted photo)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District looks at enforcement of illegal camping

ACRD currently does not have an existing bylaw service to tackle the issue

Randy Brown, owner of Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue, has five trailers and a motorhome at the back of his property that he is renting to people who had been previously homeless. He wants to put 15 trailers on his property, hooked up to city sewer and water and BC Hydro. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Building owner digs in heels, refuses to remove illegal trailers from property

Port Alberni council gives owner two-week reprieve on remediation orders

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker in Nanaimo fails at fraud attempt, slams door on business owner’s foot

VIDEO: Suspect causes pain and damage in incident downtown Friday morning

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Most Read