Who’s on our side?

By Chris Vander Doelen, Windsor Star

Premier Dalton McGuinty might not be facing an Ontario-wide uprising against his plan to dot the countryside with wind turbines if Canadians had normal property rights.

We have nominal property rights, as mentioned in passing in our 1960 Bill of Rights. But they are not in our Constitution of 1982 and not enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, so they aren’t backed by any real legal clout.

Had we had that protection when McGuinty first floated his so-called green energy plan, some landowners may have been able to prevent his government from vandalizing vast swaths of the beautiful Lake Erie shore with hundreds of the giant machines.

Instead, thanks to the legal vacuum, McGuinty’s Liberals were able to run roughshod over rural voters and other potential dissenters by removing the turbine plans from municipal planning control. After that, nobody was able to cite any other law capable of blocking the Liberal green scheme. The turbine juggernaut was on its way.

That’s just a recent example of why a growing number of Canadians politicians believe it is time to correct our lack of property rights, the most glaring flaw in the charter.

Today, two of those people -Scott Reid and Randy Hillier, respectively the MP and MPP for the rural Ontario riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington -intend to present resolutions in the House of Commons and the legislature of Ontario to amend the charter to fix the flaw.

“This is the first step towards real guarantees for property owners in Ontario,” Hillier says on his website. Because unlike other industrialized countries, “Canada’s Constitution contains no provision guaranteeing security or safety of property. This leaves Canadian citizens with no constitutional protection from seizure of property or unjust treatment,” the two say in a joint statement.

The resolutions are not a new idea. The last amendment attempt was in 2007. But it is new to submit resolutions at both the federal and provincial legislatures at the same time. (Reid is a Conservative, Hillier a Progressive Conservative, so they’re both Tories).

But this is the first time anyone has tried a “Section 43” amendment, which would create property rights in Ontario only. “It’s been received very well right across the province,” Hillier told me Wednesday. If his amendment is successful, “we may get the other provinces to follow,” creating property rights across the country.

A groundswell of support for property rights seems to be building. In Alberta, the Wild Rose Party has adopted property rights as policy, and it stands a very good chance of defeating the Conservatives to form the next Alberta government this fall.

Demand for the amendment is rising in British Columbia, and Saskatchewan -which is ironic, since Saskatchewan helped block the inclusion of those rights in 1982.

Along with Quebec and P.E.I., Saskatchewan balked when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau tried to include property rights in the Charter because they would have interfered with their expropriation of resources and foreign ownership rules.

So with one of PET’s famous shrugs, the PM tossed out the property rights clause and moved on, rather than waste valuable time trying to negotiate the perfect Charter.

In order for the proposed amendment to become national law now, it must be passed by at least seven of the 10 provinces representing more than 50 per cent of Canada’s population.

Why do we need the amendment? Property rights are the foundation of nearly all other liberties, and without them, the other rights aren’t worth much.

Yet the right to hold and enjoy property is often the first liberty to be sacrificed when a bullheaded government decides to steamroller inconvenient critics.

In Ontario, Hillier says, that usually means designating private property for public purposes. Wind turbines, for instance.

Among the 49 other separate designations that Ontario can arbitrarily impose are status as wetlands, valley lands, wild life habitat, aggregate lands, plant corridors, and Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest.

Each designation can destroy property values overnight, and they usually take place without any notification of the landowner, much less compensation.

Real property rights would protect homeowners, farmers, investors -even natives on reserves.

Of course, there will be opposition, Hillier predicts.

Some groups never like it when individuals are given power to resist the state.

Debating these rights during Ontario, B.C. and Alberta provincial elections this fall -and the federal contest, whenever it is -should provide yet another stark illustration of which candidates are on our side, and which ones always seem to side with government against the individual.

10 thoughts on “Who’s on our side?

  1. This issue is of huge importance. The government has done nothing less than stolen my life savings and taken away any hope of security I might have had as I approach retirement. I can no longer sleep or enjoy my beloved home, turbines droning away 24/7. Bernie Madoff and Dalton McGinty have a great deal in common.

  2. Dalton’s response is to offer more not so cheap beer in public.

  3. “Instead, thanks to the legal vacuum, McGuinty’s Liberals were able to run roughshod over rural voters and other potential dissenters by removing the turbine plans from municipal planning control. After that, nobody was able to cite any other law capable of blocking the Liberal green scheme. The turbine juggernaut was on its way”

    NOT TRUE! It’s called a “CROWN PATENT GRANT”

    That, at least in Ontario, is the supreme law as many of these were granted by the crown of England. It is SUPERIOR to our constitution!

    Y’all may want to look into that! ESPECIALLY those who can no longer enjoy their own property due to the selfish action of a neighbor!

    We HAVE the power!

    USE IT!

    R.R.

  4. Randy Hillier is a wolf in sheep’s clothing … you really need to investigate his past performance and look closely at his agenda.

    Quoting from above: “In Ontario, Hillier says, that usually means designating private property for public purpose. Wind turbines, for instance”.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it the property owner that accepts or rejects the offer of a contract (and money) to install industrial wind turbines on his land … even the mighty Dalton can’t force these things on private property.

    As president of the Ontario Landowners Association, what Hillier is really saying is:
    I want to be able to do whatever I want with my property without any government interference … Back Off Government.

    However, be careful what you wish for. Somebody might say: If I want to allow my cattle to defecate in the trout stream or remove endangered species habitat, that’s OK. If someone wanted to start up a junk yard, garbage dump, shooting range, motorcycle gang clubhouse, whorehouse, crackhouse that may be OK as well. Gas plants, hydro substations and industrial wind turbines … absolutely.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m generally of the Conservative persuasion and in most cases believe that less government can be a good thing. However, be aware of those with other agendas that are using the fight against Big Wind to advance their own cause.

  5. “Today, two of those people -Scott Reid and Randy Hillier, respectively the MP and MPP for the rural Ontario riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington -intend to present resolutions in the House of Commons and the legislature of Ontario to amend the charter to fix the flaw.”
    This is a great and timely step! It is also one of the campaigns of the National Citizens Coalition. I urge everyone to visit this site and at the very least sign the petition.
    http://nationalcitizens.ca/respect_property_rights.html
    Note the draconian bills passed in Alberta: Bills 19, 24, 36 and 50. What is even harder to believe is that it was the pc party in Alberta that passed this type of legislation.
    In Ontario we do need champions like Hillier and Reid and let’s hope this initiative will be included in Tim Hudak’s election platform and move upward as an all-Canada initiative adopted by Prime Minister Harper. Incidentally, Prime Minister Harper served as the NCC’s president from 1998-2002.
    Let us hope that the wording as under the Bill of Rights: (a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law; is even strengthened since as can be seen the “due process of law” has been subverted in Alberta by simply legislating new laws.

  6. People need to be very cautious with this issue as they may end up with unintended consequences. Any proposed laws need to be legally veted to determine just what the consequences will be.

    The eminent domain laws in the U.S. were struck down by the U.S. Supreme court so that they now include creating new jobs as a reason to take people’s property. Some states did go back and remove the jobs provision from their laws to again protect the people’s rights.

    This not something to be rushed through.

  7. Sceptical Gord,
    You are absolutely right in saying it is the landowners right to choose to have windmills on his property. By placing a turbine on his property, however, his neighbour’s right to the enjoyment of his property has been taken away. That is supposing the neighbour had this right. The right to the enjoyment of our property is a balance against those landowners causing harm to their neighbours.
    In the past local noise bi-law, zoning, and planning have kept a balance. Neighbours generally have not abused one another’s rights. If there were problems, these were handled under local Council. The Province under the Green Energy Act has suddenly exempted all of this. We had acts in place covering concerns such as you mention in regard to wildlife protection and pollution, but read this:
    By regulation under the authority of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the following Acts are exempt under the current provisions of the Green Energy Act of Ontario, meaning that none of the proposed green energy projects being considered will undergo evaluation under the authority of these various acts:
    1. The Apprenticeship and Certification Act, 1998.
    2. The Building Code Act, 1992.
    3. The Clean Water Act, 2006.
    4. The Conservation Authorities Act.
    5. The Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994.
    6. The Electricity Act, 1998.
    7. The Endangered Species Act, 2007.
    8. The Environmental Assessment Act.
    9. The Environmental Protection Act.
    10. The Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997.
    11. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997.
    12. The Forest Fires Prevention Act.
    13. The Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act.
    14. The Occupational Health and Safety Act.
    15. The Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act.
    16. The Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998.
    17. The Ontario Heritage Act.
    18. The Ontario Water Resources Act.
    19. The Pesticides Act.
    20. The Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006.
    21. The Public Lands Act.
    22. The Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002.
    23. The Technical Standards and Safety Act, 2000.
    24. The Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act.

    NOW WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US???

  8. ScepticalGord:

    What you fear is ALREADY the case in Ontario. I LIVE next door to one who chose to start up a junk yard. I called the environment ministry about it and they said; “So long as nothing is leaking off your neighbor’s property then no laws are being broken.” However, to be fair, they actually came out and at least had a look-see.

    BTW, I happen to have a 100m shooting range on my property AND a sign that says: “Back Off Government!.”

    Randy and Scott are my provincial and federal representatives. Scott, well, I believe he at least understands the meaning of government in a democracy, as for Randy… Well… He has given me ample reason to lose any and all respect I may have had for him.

    Now… Back to my post above re: Crown Patent Grants… Property owners DO IN FACT have the right to enjoy and profit from activities on their own property. However, they DO NOT have the right to engage in any activity that would in any way impair their neighbor’s from exercising those same rights. This is why I NEVER shoot at night! 🙂 (well, maybe to scare off a bear)

    Sometimes, laws are written that actually make sense. However, in Canada, enforcement of some of them like Crown Patents and our constitution, are the responsibility of the people and not the police.

    R.R.

  9. Karen:

    You are mistaken. Those acts are NOT exempt! Please re-read Ontario Regulation 15/10 as it applies to section 5 of the GEA!

    Incredibly, the GEA actually provides specific language and methods that can be employed by municipalities to stop it cold!

    The fact that few if any, have employed these methods, strongly reinforces my low and decreasing opinion of elected officials everywhere!

    VIGILANCE!

    R.R.

  10. Don’t think that all private property comes down thru a Crown Patent Grant in Ontario.

    Properties granted early on were crown grants but not all land had been granted/subdivided by 1867. Look at your deeds to learn what you have.

    For example some properties in southwestern Ontario have been held under three countries: France,England and Canada but both England and Canada honoured the original French grants and/ or property rights.

    This was done to avoid big time trouble with the early settlers.

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