REM Online - Politicians push for private property rights

Published on March 21st, 2011 in REM Online

Two Ontario politicians have launched a proposal to get private property rights included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Federal MP Scott Reid (Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington) and MPP Randy Hillier (Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington) announced they will jointly present resolutions in the House of Commons and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to amend Canada’s Constitution, embedding property rights within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Currently Canada’s constitution provides no protection for its citizens against restricted use of their property. The motion, if passed, would entrench property rights alongside those mentioned in the Canadian Bill of Rights, 1960, including the right to life, liberty, and security of person.

This isn’t the first time that this type of constitutional amendment has been attempted – the last time was in 2007 – but it is the first time that anyone has tried an amendment using Section 43. Under the terms of the amending formula in Section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982, resolutions for the province of Ontario could become part of the Constitution of Canada. Although the amendment will only affect the province of Ontario, the sponsoring politicians hope that their motion will inspire others to enact similar property rights across Canada.

“There’s no one thing that spurred this motion,” says Hillier’s legislative assistant Nick Kadysh, “In Canada there’s been a fairly long history of property rights abuses – not always intentional – but there’s very little that the average citizen can do to combat this.”

Without constitutional protection, municipalities have the right to disregard property owner’s rights without the fear of retaliation. They can arbitrarily seize land, impose heritage designations, or declare land protected, thereby restricting its use.

Hillier and Reid, both members of the Conservative Party, cite recent cases from within their own jurisdictions of citizens who could have benefited from constitutional protection.

In 2010, the Jaworski family of Lanark County, Ont., was fined $50,000 for hosting a political and economic freedom convention, the Liberty Summer Seminar, on their property. Although the Canadian Constitution Foundation announced that the charges were dropped on February 14, 2011, by that time the Jaworskis had already incurred substantial legal fees.

Another incident involved a woman from Lanark County who had wanted to divide her land and sell off a part of it in order to refinance her property. She was prohibited from doing so because part of her land was home to a protected bird species. When

Currently Canada’s constitution provides no protection for its citizens against restricted use of their property. The motion, if passed, would entrench property rights alongside those mentioned in the Canadian Bill of Rights, 1960, including the right to life, liberty, and security of person.

This isn’t the first time that this type of constitutional amendment has been attempted – the last time was in 2007 – but it is the first time that anyone has tried an amendment using Section 43. Under the terms of the amending formula in Section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982, resolutions for the province of Ontario could become part of the Constitution of Canada. Although the amendment will only affect the province of Ontario, the sponsoring politicians hope that their motion will inspire others to enact similar property rights across Canada.

“There’s no one thing that spurred this motion,” says Hillier’s legislative assistant Nick Kadysh, “In Canada there’s been a fairly long history of property rights abuses – not always intentional – but there’s very little that the average citizen can do to combat this.”

Without constitutional protection, municipalities have the right to disregard property owner’s rights without the fear of retaliation. They can arbitrarily seize land, impose heritage designations, or declare land protected, thereby restricting its use.

Hillier and Reid, both members of the Conservative Party, cite recent cases from within their own jurisdictions of citizens who could have benefited from constitutional protection.

In 2010, the Jaworski family of Lanark County, Ont., was fined $50,000 for hosting a political and economic freedom convention, the Liberty Summer Seminar, on their property. Although the Canadian Constitution Foundation announced that the charges were dropped on February 14, 2011, by that time the Jaworskis had already incurred substantial legal fees.

Another incident involved a woman from Lanark County who had wanted to divide her land and sell off a part of it in order to refinance her property. She was prohibited from doing so because part of her land was home to a protected bird species. When she couldn’t raise the money she needed, she lost her

Currently Canada’s constitution provides no protection for its citizens against restricted use of their property. The motion, if passed, would entrench property rights alongside those mentioned in the Canadian Bill of Rights, 1960, including the right to life, liberty, and security of person.

This isn’t the first time that this type of constitutional amendment has been attempted – the last time was in 2007 – but it is the first time that anyone has tried an amendment using Section 43. Under the terms of the amending formula in Section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982, resolutions for the province of Ontario could become part of the Constitution of Canada. Although the amendment will only affect the province of Ontario, the sponsoring politicians hope that their motion will inspire others to enact similar property rights across Canada.

“There’s no one thing that spurred this motion,” says Hillier’s legislative assistant Nick Kadysh, “In Canada there’s been a fairly long history of property rights abuses – not always intentional – but there’s very little that the average citizen can do to combat this.”

Without constitutional protection, municipalities have the right to disregard property owner’s rights without the fear of retaliation. They can arbitrarily seize land, impose heritage designations, or declare land protected, thereby restricting its use.

Hillier and Reid, both members of the Conservative Party, cite recent cases from within their own jurisdictions of citizens who could have benefited from constitutional protection.

In 2010, the Jaworski family of Lanark County, Ont., was fined $50,000 for hosting a political and economic freedom convention, the Liberty Summer Seminar, on their property. Although the Canadian Constitution Foundation announced that the charges were dropped on February 14, 2011, by that time the Jaworskis had already incurred substantial legal fees.

Another incident involved a woman from Lanark County who had wanted to divide her land and sell off a part of it in order to refinance her property. She was prohibited from doing so because part of her land was home to a protected bird species. When she couldn’t raise the money she needed, she lost her

Currently Canada’s constitution provides no protection for its citizens against restricted use of their property. The motion, if passed, would entrench property rights alongside those mentioned in the Canadian Bill of Rights, 1960, including the right to life, liberty, and security of person.

This isn’t the first time that this type of constitutional amendment has been attempted – the last time was in 2007 – but it is the first time that anyone has tried an amendment using Section 43. Under the terms of the amending formula in Section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982, resolutions for the province of Ontario could become part of the Constitution of Canada. Although the amendment will only affect the province of Ontario, the sponsoring politicians hope that their motion will inspire others to enact similar property rights across Canada.

“There’s no one thing that spurred this motion,” says Hillier’s legislative assistant Nick Kadysh, “In Canada there’s been a fairly long history of property rights abuses – not always intentional – but there’s very little that the average citizen can do to combat this.”

Without constitutional protection, municipalities have the right to disregard property owner’s rights without the fear of retaliation. They can arbitrarily seize land, impose heritage designations, or declare land protected, thereby restricting its use.

Hillier and Reid, both members of the Conservative Party, cite recent cases from within their own jurisdictions of citizens who could have benefited from constitutional protection.

In 2010, the Jaworski family of Lanark County, Ont., was fined $50,000 for hosting a political and economic freedom convention, the Liberty Summer Seminar, on their property. Although the Canadian Constitution Foundation announced that the charges were dropped on February 14, 2011, by that time the Jaworskis had already incurred substantial legal fees.

Another incident involved a woman from Lanark County who had wanted to divide her land and sell off a part of it in order to refinance her property. She was prohibited from doing so because part of her land was home to a protected bird species. When she couldn’t raise the money she needed, she lost her land.

Kadysh recalls another story, told to him by Hillier, about a man who resides near Peterborough, Ont. About 10 years ago he bought a piece of land with a highway on one side and a creek on the other. He planned to build on it as the city developed. When he eventually went to put his plan into action, he found that the Ministry of Environment had zoned 200 yards out from the creek bed and that the Ministry of Transportation had zoned some 200 yards out from the highway, making his land pretty much useless.

“He still owns it and he still pays taxes on it, but he can’t build on it and he can’t sell it,” says Kadysh, “Who’s going to buy useless land?”

These restrictions are particularly burdensome to those who make their living off the land, says Reid. He has seen cases where new government regulations have restricted land use and landowners have been forced to sell their property at a financial loss. Reid says that taxpayers should share in the cost of these new restrictions, and that they should not be left to the individual landowner. He would like to see affected landowners compensated for their financial losses.

Kadysh agrees, saying that Hillier’s hope was that landowners would see “just and timely compensation.”

Ontarians have responded with “widespread support,” says Reid, and he says he is “quite optimistic” that private property rights will be protected in the future. Kadysh says that support is “overwhelmingly positive” and Hillier is “certainly hopeful” about the future of private property rights in Canada.

Although Kadysh doesn’t see the issue as “headline-grabbing enough,” Reid would like to see private property rights become an election issue. “The more awareness, the more it propels the issue,” Reid says. He doesn’t anticipate any opposition since there’s really “no downside for anyone.”

“This isn’t a partisan issue – it’s an issue of fairness and justice,” says Kadysh. “Hillier has long been an advocate of property rights and he believes that it’s a pretty great injustice that we don’t have them.”

Kadysh says, “I believe that this is something that Canadians want, overwhelmingly, especially property owners. And I believe that one day, and it may not be through our motion, but one day Canadians will get this. So we’re just doing our part to ensure fairness and justice for Ontario and ultimately for all Canadians.”

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