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  • Rural revolution steamrolls across EO

    One of its key instigators says a "rural revolution" is underway, a revolution fed by dissatisfaction in the wake of constant intervention by bureaucrats in the agricultural and rural way of life.

    The clearest sign, says Randy Hillier, is the growing number of crowded meetings being staged, primarily in Renfrew and Lanark counties, where participants are venting their anger about everything from their helplessness in the BSE crisis, to costly property tax reassessment.

    Hillier is president of the militant Lanark Landowners Association which has called a meeting for the Pakenham Arena March 2 beginning at 7 pm.

    Known for organizing an illegal deer cull last year and for blockading MNR offices in Kemptville, the LLA has acted as an outlet for much of the anger now being demonstrated.

    In addition to BSE and taxes, topics to be raised in Pakenham include amalgamation and "loss of democratic representation", the MOE crackdown on family sawmills, MOE enforcement of the Nutrient Management Act, ramifications of Species at Risk legislation, reclassification of woodlots and sugar shacks to recreational and industrial, MNR "mismanagement" of wildlife, firearm registration, buffer zones which deny the use of private property, and mining legislation which "strips away rights and privacy".

    If the meeting draws like others that have gone before it, a good 300 people should be in attendance.

    On Feb. 20, the Opeongo High School cafeteria at Douglas in Renfrew County was filled to overflowing for a meeting on BSE organized by local beef farmer Preston Cull who doubles as auctioneer at Galetta Livestock Sale Barn where business at Wednesday sales has never been so bad.

    Where 100 cows used to go on the block and fetch 60 cents a pound, these days about 20 might be sold for only a few cents a pound. Recently, a decent canner cow was given away for the hide when nobody made an offer on it.

    "Beef farmers are starving financially," Cull said. "Things will have to change or we'll all be out of business."

    The latest information circulated at the meeting cites revenue losses for Renfrew County beef producers since the BSE crisis broke last May at close to $25 million.

    Some relief may be in sight following a visit by Premier Dalton McGuinty Feb. 25 to the Ontario Cattlemen's Association annual meeting where he announced $10 million to support a new cull animal strategy and investigate alternate markets for beef; and $64 million for eligible farmers - including $7 million earmarked for beef producers - to ease the transition into a new generation of safety nets.

    But that won't go far in easing rural and agricultural dissatisfaction which the very vocal Hillier, a Carleton Place bushlot owner, says has become chronic.

    "Canada's prosperous rural economy is crumbling and under attack from urban socialism and the weight of government deception," says the eloquent rural leader who advocates civil disobedience as a weapon against an out-of-control bureaucracy.

    "The hypocrisy is clear: Unnecessary legislation intended to protect society and the environment removes good stewards from the land and shatters the cornerstones of democracy."

    "The practice of slavery was abolished 200 years ago but is being revived as the wealthy urban majority seeks to deprive rural landowners of the same rights slaves were denied."

    It's time, Hillier says, to "fight for democracy's return."

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