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Conservation officer fired for refusing to kill cubs sues to get his job back

Conservation officer fired for refusing to kill cubs sues to get his job back

A former BC conservation officer who made international headlines in 2015 for refusing to kill two orphaned cubs is suing to get his job back and recover his lost salary.

In a new civil lawsuit and affidavit filed in late February, Bryce Casavant – who spent five years fighting his union and employer to return to work at the BC Conservation Officer Service – argues that his dismissal has now been proven invalid.

The man from Port Alberni, B.C., filed a petition with the B.C. Supreme Court on February 23 to force the province and the conservation service to restore his job.

“I just want to get back to work – it’s that easy,” Casavant, 37, said in an interview on Tuesday.

He has always maintained that an order from a superior asking him to shoot two orphaned cubs was not legal.

Casavant received the order by email on July 5, 2015, after finding the cubs in a tree.

It came after their mother had to be shot for raiding an outdoor freezer and entering a house near Port Hardy, B.C.

Instead of killing the eight-week-old babies, Casavant took them to a vet.

Casavant was ordered to kill these two cubs after their mother was killed for getting used to human food and garbage. (Julie Mackey)

Casavant said he had to slaughter the sow because she had entered a residence in search of food and waste – but he maintained that he had the discretion to kill the cubs or not because he didn’t there was no evidence that they had been used the same way.

The Cubs were transferred to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Center and were named Jordan and Athena. They were then released back into the wild.

WATCH | The little ones at the recovery center

Guardians say cubs are good candidates for release into the wild 0:43

Casavant was first suspended, then fired and reassigned as a natural resources officer.

He challenged the original arbitration rule and the appeal ended up at the British Columbia Labor Relations Board, where it was argued that the arbitrator lacked jurisdiction in his case.

The case culminated in a judicial review before the Supreme Court of British Columbia, then the Court of Appeal of British Columbia, which ruled that Casavant had been wrongfully dismissed from his job.

At the end of January, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an application by the BC Government and Service Employees Union to appeal the decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal.

“ You cannot order a gendarme to kill ”

Casavant’s lawyer says his client has a legal right to get his job back – with a salary of around $ 55,000 to $ 75,000 – as well as back wages.

“The process used to take his job was illegal, so there is no reason not to give him back his job now,” said Arden Beddoes, adding that he couldn’t believe the fight has been going on for so long.

The Department of the Environment – which oversees the BC Conservation Officer Service – said it was unable to comment on Casavant’s attempt to get his old job back, as the case is currently in court.

Bryce Casavant (right) with NDP Leader John Horgan when he called for the party’s nomination in the riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head in 2017. (Mike McArthur)

Although he described the legal ordeal as “heartbreaking,” Mr. Casavant, born in Comox, British Columbia, said he would not change his actions.

“I have always maintained that a police officer cannot be ordered to kill – it is an illegal order,” he said.

Casavant was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces and served as a military police officer in Afghanistan, but retrained as a conservation officer so he could stay in British Columbia after his daughter Athena was born with a problem. serious health in 2012.

Casavant said that Athena, now 8, still remembers when her father was an “animal police officer”.

In recent years, Casavant says he has worked with a special committee of members of the Legislative Assembly to reform and modernize British Columbia’s Police Act.

Last July, he received a doctorate for his research on the history of the BC Conservation Officer Service.

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