A former B.C. conservation officer’s appeal to be reinstated nearly eight years after being dismissed for refusing to euthanize two bear cubs has been denied, with the judge telling the parties to “bear their own costs.”
B.C. Court of Appeals Justice J. Christopher Grauer released his decision Tuesday (Aug. 8), dismissing Bryce Casavant’s appeal of a 2022 B.C. Supreme Court decision.
In 2022, Casavant petitioned the B.C. Supreme Court to declare: that his dismissal as a conservation officer and special provincial constable as unlawful; that his designation as a member of the service, beginning on Dec. 11, 2013, remains valid and in full force and effect; and to order that a settlement agreement was void, among other orders.
Grauer said that Casavant was part of a settlement agreement, and the Supreme Court judge didn’t err in finding that it was “impracticable to unwind the settlement agreement to restore the parties to a position from which they had long moved on.”
Casavant told Black Press Media Wednesday the decision was very disappointing, adding that he and his counsel, Arden Beddoes, are looking at the possibility of appealing the decision with the Supreme Court of Canada.
“Nevertheless, I respect the decision of the court.”
Beddoes said they’re reviewing the decision very carefully, along with their next steps. They have 60 days from the decision to seek leave to appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada.
The case dates back to 2015 when Casavant, a former special provincial constable with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service on northern Vancouver Island, defied orders, refusing to kill two bear cubs after euthanizing their mother. The mother was eating food from an outdoor freezer in Port Hardy, but Casavant believed the cubs hadn’t been eating the human food. The bears, later named Jordan and Athena, were transferred to a wildlife recovery centre in Errington before ultimately being released back into the wild.
His employers did not support his decision, and he was suspended first without pay on July 6, 2015 and then with pay on July 8. On Aug. 25, 2015, he was dismissed from his position, but as a member of the B.C. Government and Services Employees’ Union he was tranferred to another role as a natural resource officer within the Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations.
Casavant challenged the dismissal, with his union filing grievances on his behalf under the collective agreement and on Feb. 19, 2016 it was resolved with Casavant, his employer and the union signing a settlement agreement.
In 2020, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled the legal process was flawed and that Casavant’s dismissal should be nullified since it should have been dealt with through the Police Act. However the appeals court said that since the agreement had happened about four years earlier, it would “leave the parties to sort out the consequences of those declarations, if any, on the settlement agreement”
They were unable to sort it out, and that’s when Casavant filed the B.C. Supreme Court petition.
After being dismissed from the BC Conservation Officer Service, Casavant worked for the Ministry of Forests and tried his hand at politics, running in the 2017 provincial election as the NDP candidate in the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding, which was won by the Green Party’s Andrew Weaver. After being dismissed from the BC Conservation Officer Service, Casavant worked for the Ministry of Forests and tried his hand at politics, running in the 2017 provincial election as the NDP candidate in the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding, which was won by the Green Party’s Andrew Weaver. He then worked for Pacific Wild as a conservation policy analyst.
Casavant also graduated from Royal Roads University with a Ph.D in social sciences. His dissertation was released June 5, 2020, one day after the court decision clearing him of wrongdoing. Titled “In Search of a Wild Peace,” it examines the relationship between wildlife and the BC Conservation Officer Service’s use of lethal force.
– With files from Tyson Whitney, Susie Quinn