Credits: Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agency
OTTAWA - Politicians, academics and media personalities including Brian Lilley and John Robson from Sun News Network gathered at Ottawa's historic Lord Elgin Hotel Saturday to push for a constitutional amendment enshrining property rights in the Charter.
"Property rights are the foundation of human freedom," said Peter Jaworski, one of the organizers of the conference.
Jaworski, a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, spoke on Ontario's by-law bullies. In 2010, Jaworski's parents, who had fled communist Poland for the freedom of Canada in the 1980s, were subjected to prosecution for hosting a conference on their property on the topic of liberty. Court documents revealed to the family that bylaw officials had visited their remote, rural property several times even taking pictures of guests, writing down their licence plates all without a warrant or informing the family.
In Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, Jaworski said, bylaw officers have greater powers to trespass on your property than police who need a warrant.
Mark Milke, with the Fraser Institute think-tank, pointed to regulations in Vancouver that have essentially shut down the use of land owned by the Canadian Pacific Railroad. CPR is blocked by regulations from developing the land it owns or selling it to another developer after the city designated the old railway lands a public thoroughfare and greenway. The Supreme Court backed that move in 2006.
"What luck will the rest of us have if a big company like CPR can have that done to them? The rest of us are hooped. It's very important that we be able to use our land and not just own it," Milke said, "otherwise it's the same as not owning it."
Danielle Smith, leader of Alberta's Wildrose Party and leader of the opposition, was the keynote speaker. Smith pointed to the abolition of the wheat board as a victory for property rights.
"What an incredible blow for economic freedom," Smith said.
While the wheat board was in effect, western farmers were forbidden from selling wheat grown on their own land to anyone other than the government backed body.
Smith said many of the seats her party won in last April's election came due to their stance on property rights.