Former Sandspit forester files human rights complaint

A forester says he was unfairly denied a job for criticizing land-use planning between B.C. and the Haida Nation.

A forester says he was unfairly denied a job for criticizing land-use planning between B.C. and the Haida Nation.

Bryan Fraser, a former operations forester for Teal Jones in Sandspit, has filed a human rights complaint that claims he was denied a senior policy job with BC Timber Sales because of his political beliefs.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal recently agreed to hear the case, even though Fraser’s complaint, filed in March, came six months after the standard deadline.

During his time on island, from 2006 to 2010, Fraser was an outspoken critic of the political relationship between B.C. and the Haida Nation and what became the Strategic Land Use Agreement for Haida Gwaii, which he said would wipe out most economic activity in Sandspit.

In February 2015, Fraser was offered a job as a senior policy officer with BC Timber Sales in Victoria.

But a month later, that offer was revoked.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations told the tribunal it revoked the offer because some of Fraser’s forestry work on Haida Gwaii was investigated by the Forest Practices Board.

Fraser says the job was revoked due to his political beliefs.

Fraser filed a Freedom of Information request and found that shortly after his job offer was announced, Haida Gwaii’s district manager, who had been involved in the Forest Practices investigation, warned that Fraser’s hiring would hurt relations with the Haida Nation.

Partly because the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner investigation took nine months, B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Barbara Korenkiewicz ruled last month that the complaint will be heard even though it was filed late.

Korenkiewicz also found Fraser’s complaint raises a unique issue under the human rights code that an employer may have revoked a job offer because of political beliefs expressed several years earlier.

“In my view, this complaint could serve to fill a gap in the jurisprudence and further define what is covered by ‘political belief’ for the purposes of the Code,” she wrote.

 

Correction: This story was corrected to reflect the fact it was the Office of the Information and Privacy Commission request that took nine months to process, not the Freedom of Information request.