Former Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant’s fight with the BC government appears to be over.
Last week, Casavant received a copy of a letter from the BC Public Service Agency, sent to the arbitrator, stating that it has withdrawn its request for a hearing.
“Following discussions between representatives of both the employer and the employee, government has withdrawn its request for arbitration. We can’t go into further details about the matter, as it is a personnel matter,” said Jessica McLachlin, communications manager Ministry of Finance.
“Peter Gall’s firm does, from time to time, provide technical, labour related legal advice to the Province. Information about these costs will be released as part of public accounts, when the annual billing cycle is complete,” McLachlin said.
“I think what it establishes is that we’re done now, this is over, and I am moving on.”
Casavant made worldwide headlines last July, even prompting comment from comedian Ricky Gervais, when he refused to follow an order from his superior to kill two healthy baby bear cubs in Port Hardy.
The brother and sister, nicknamed Jordan and Athena, were homed at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington over the winter and successfully released back into the wild this summer.
Casavant was initially suspended without pay, however his salary was reinstated after the public outcry that ensued.
The former CO was subsequently transferred to the Forestry office in Port McNeill where he is working as a senior compliance and enforcement specialist. Casavant now has his eyes set on a political career.
He has put his name forward as an NDP candidate in the provincial Comox-Courtnenay riding where he is being challenged by Ronna-Rae Leonard. “The nomination date has been set for Jan. 14,” Casavant said.
The government’s decision is “a weight off my shoulders. Now I can get back to the things that matter to me most, which is the people of Comox Valley and the people of BC more broadly speaking,” he said.
“I have chosen to seek and pursue public office. That is my right to exercise, without government interference, as it is the right of every citizen, and I’m going to exercise that right as a part of an open and transparent democracy,” he said.
“I have a passion for various issues in our province – among them environmental concerns, as well as health care and education, and I hope to bring forward positive changes as we move forward in this campaign.”
Casavant has also made a decision to further his education.
“I have been accepted in a doctoral program at Royal Roads University. My approved research area is in provincial wildlife policies and a portion of that will be looking at the Conservation Officer Service as well as other policing services in the province,” he said. “That is my academic right to pursue research in that area without government influence.”
While it has been a tough time for Casavant, the former CO says that he would save the cubs all over again.
“Of course I would. I made a tough decision. I didn’t know exactly what the consequences of that action would be, and the most important thing to realize is that I made that decision willing to be held accountable professionally and legally.”