B.C. conservation officer who refused to kill 2 bear cubs still fighting to return to work

·2 min read

A conservation officer who gained national attention after losing his job for refusing to kill two orphan cubs in Port Hardy in 2015 has filed a petition to get his job back.

In June 2020, the BC Supreme Court of Appeal ruled the Conservation Officer Service illegally dismissed him, and nullified the action.

Instead of letting him go back to work as he expected, government union organization BCGEU filed an appeal supported by B.C. government. That appeal was squashed this January by the Supreme Court of Canada, leaving the June 4 B.C. court decision in tact.

“My dismissal has been overturned. I have a right to exercise the duties of my post, and a responsibility to return to work, but am being stopped. I’m not asking to be rehired, I don’t need to be reinstated. I am a conservation officer,” he told Black Press Media in an interview Wednesday (March 3).

But Casavant alleges the Conservation Officer Service still has not acknowledged that his dismissal has been nullified, and has not allowed him to return to work. The petition, filed Feb. 23, gives them 21 days to respond.

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Recounting the legal history, Casavant sounds fundamentally offended that the court decision is not being acknowledged.

“I need compliance with the law,” he implored. “In my experience in law enforcement and as an academic, I am not aware of any other constable being treated this way.”

Other incorrect dismissals were simply reinstated, he said. Casavant was formerly a military police officer and recently earned a PhD in the history of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

It shouldn’t take a court order to get the decision makers to respond; the chief conservation officer has the power to correct the mistake, Casavant argues.

Even the former Environment Minister, Mary Polak, agrees. She told Casavant recently she was never properly briefed on the file, and is now advocating with him to get the error corrected, he said. Black Press Media has not yet spoken to Polak.

“This is way beyond two bear cubs at this time. I don’t have the financial resources to fight the largest union in B.C. and now on to the second administration of government. I’m starting to wonder if I should have just gone to law school, instead of getting my doctorate.”

The BCGEU has not responded to requests for comment.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca

Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette