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For peat's sake!
By Tom Van Dusen - AgriNews Staff Writer

It was a tough job but somebody had to do it.

So the Ontario Landowners Association took on the difficult task of whittling down examples of government infringement on property rights in 2010 to the "Five Most Outrageous" and came up with a worthy list.

Remember, of course, that the Landowners could only select from bureaucratic bungles which actually made it into the public domain, usually because the victims sought help from the association. Who knows what other unjustifiable interference occurred in 2010 that we never heard about?

The envelope please!

The Five Most Outrageous Examples of Government Infringement in 2010 are: Quashing the Liberty Summer Seminar in Orono; seizure of Major Mark Tijssen's meat and equipment after he had the audacity to butcher a pig at his Carlsbad Springs home; threatening to fine George Eng for harvesting peat on his own peat farm at Zephyr; ordering Bob Mackie to shut down an indoor archery range on the Niagara Escarpment; and last, but certainly not least, arbitrarily jacking the assessment on a modest bungalow in Drummond-North Elmsley from $212,000 to $333,000, shell-shocking the 89-year-old Second World War veteran home owner.

As I said, very worthy finalists all! With the help of the OLA, let's look at these gems in a little more detail, remembering that we don't have the other side of the story... which would probably just be more bureaucratic bafflegab anyway.

Ironically, the non-profit Orono seminar was designed to help students appreciate the concept of liberty; instead, they learned that government storm troopers can rob a property owner of his/her liberty by serving a summons on grounds land is being used for other than its permitted residential application.

If convicted, Marta and Lech Jaworski can be fined up to $50,000 for allowing son Peter to host the event on their acreage. It has been quite a lesson for the Jaworskis who escaped Poland in 1984 out of fear of reprisal after handing out pro-freedom literature to now face charges in their adopted country for welcoming a gathering supporting the same principle.

Then we have the Tijssen case. He grew up on a farm and knows how to butcher livestock, the OLA points out. While it's legal to slaughter your own pig, it's apparently illegal -- if you really pore over the dusty old law books looking for it -- to let someone else take home-butchered meat off your property. That, according to the thumb-sucking bureaucrats, turns your home into an unlicensed slaughterhouse.

The Ministry of Natural Resources mounted an operation worthy of a crack house take-down to "catch" Tijssen who's charged with four related offences and is facing penalties as high as $100,000; he's going back to court in February, and may the best Canadian Forces major win!

George Eng! He's facing a fine of up to $10,000 or three months in jail. The crime? He's a peat farmer who purchased a property to engage in that very, seemingly innocent activity. Eng got caught in the after-the-fact designation by the provincial government of large tracts of private property as "significant wetlands". That suddenly made it illegal for Eng -- who's fighting back -- and others to dig peat, robbing them of their traditional livelihood; the value of his land has been destroyed with no compensation. It's all in a day's work for our most outrageous bureaucrats!

If necessary, Bob Mackie intends to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in his battle with the unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats of the Niagara Escarpment Commission who ordered him to shut down an indoor archery range on his property. Apparently, he needs a permit; in response, Mackie says... actually, we can't repeat in print what he says. He believes he has the right to establish the range under property rights guaranteed by his Crown Land Patent grant. The commission has fined him $15,000 and, for starters, he's taking his case to provincial court.

Finally, MPAC, the most reviled bureaucratic bastion in Ontario, decided out of the blue to wildly inflate veteran Arthur Brooks property assessment and to give him a stern "no" when he appealed. But Brooks is an old freedom fighter, eh, so he took the case to court. In November, a judge granted him an assessment of $194,000, a full $139,000 less than the off-the-chart heist MPAC had attempted. Score one for the good guys!

As we enter the New Year, isn't it a relief to know the Landowners are out there chasing down these ridiculous bureaucratic interventions and providing support to persecuted property owners?



Eastern Ontario AgriNews is published on the third Monday of each month. The printed version is distributed free by postal mail to farms in Eastern Ontario, Canada.

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