Forester gains access to documents in complaint

Bryan Fraser says he was unfairly denied a job for criticizing B.C. and Haida Nation land-use plans.

A forester who says he was unfairly denied a government job for criticizing B.C. and Haida Nation land-use planning has won access to previously withheld documents.

Bryan Fraser, a former operations forester for Teal Jones in Sandspit, has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. Fraser says that in 2015, he unfairly lost the offer of a senior policy job with BC Timber Sales for political beliefs he expressed years earlier while working on Haida Gwaii.

From 2006 to 2010, Fraser was an outspoken critic of what became Haida Gwaii’s Strategic Land Use Agreement. At the time, he claimed it gave the Haida Nation oversight over land values that go beyond the case-law test for an aboriginal right.

Fraser also says he obtained cutting permits for Teal Jones in areas that neither the Haida Nation nor the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations wanted logged.

The ministry has asked the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to dismiss the complaint, saying it revoked Fraser’s job offer for another reason — that Fraser failed to disclose a Forest Practices Board report into Teal-Jones compliance with visual quality objectives on Haida Gwaii in 2009.

However, Fraser says that in February, an investigator with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner told him the reason he lost the job offer was ministry concern over the impact his hiring would have on relations with the Haida Nation.

The documents in question include emails, notes, and voice messages sent between ministry officials in the eight days before Fraser’s job offer was revoked.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has yet to resolve the complaint, but on May 4, tribunal member Catherine McCreary ordered the ministry to disclose most of the documents Fraser requested.

McCreary found the documents are not protected by labour-relations privilege. Also, given the alleged inconsistencies in the reasons why Fraser’s job offer was revoked, McCreary said there is likely more benefit than harm to labour relations by making the documents available.