If it’s Broke Let’s fix it by Marlene Black

Well, down in this cold, snowy province…we landowners stumble on. For ten long years we have been hammering away, to anyone who would listen, that something is very wrong here in good old Ontario…Take farming for instance, the land of the fresh local food and bleached clean cows. The reality unfortunately, is that we are getting rid of those men and women who produce our food (remember when the government encouraged all the peach farmers to cut down their peach trees when they were full of fruit) as we had nowhere to process them. Now just try to find canned peaches from Ontario…good luck. This province of ours used to be the engine driving the rest of Canada but now, sadly, we are a have-not province, with government squeezing our hard earned dollars from us so unhealthy blights on the landscape can continue to kill our birds and harm the people living close to them. Yes, the whirling monster windmills are draining your pockets and shooting your hydro bills to the sky. They are huge, and useless, and costly and heading for a community near you. Along our Lake Huron waterfront, there are plans for 1,915 of these towers so take a photo now, to ‘remember the way it used to be’. The ‘green algae agenda’ madness has taken over the minds of many and its time we spoke up.

I was just reading a 14 page court transcript of a couple trying to justify fixing up their old verandah. When did the city feel that they could tell them what to do with their 100 year old porch? Despite being labeled a ‘heritage designation’ which was the problem, they got it removed. Should they have had to go to court for that and pay lawyers to end up back at the beginning, doing what they knew they had the right to do?

I’m not sure if people have heard of the Pacific Legal Foundation in the United States, but they are a group of lawyers who fight for property rights and I was just reading how they have had several big victories recently. One was for the people of Cedar City, Utah who had to endure major assaults from thousands of Utah prairie dogs (similar to our ground hogs). These burrowing, tunneling rodents were on the Endangered Species list and the people were under threat of huge fines and even imprisonment if they harmed a single prairie dog. These rodents had special powers to block you from building a home or business structure, they were free to destroy gardens, parks and farm fields with all their holes in the earth and local officials were unable to protect open spaces, playing fields, airport runways and the cemetery. Can you imagine telling your grandfather that he could go to jail if he shot a groundhog that was destroying his farm field? The Pacific Legal Foundation won the case and for the first time ever, a federal court held that the federal government has no authority to regulate for a species, like the Utah prairie dog, that exists only in one state and has no impact on interstate commerce.

Another victory for the Pacific Legal over government confiscation was the story of the three McLaughlin sisters and their stretch of coastal property that had been left to them by their father. They wanted to repair the rundown farm house on the land but the California Coastal Commission refused to give them a permit for the fix-up unless they agreed to grant a mile-long public pathway easement across their property, along the coast. After a six-year fight through the courts, they emerged victorious. But at what cost?

These stories remind me of those that we hear regularly from people. Wrong is being done to them and yet, they have to go to court, pay lawyers and live with the prolonged stress that this causes, only to be told, years later, that the wrong would be reversed or worse, it would not be fixed and they would have to accept injustice, bad laws and being abused by the system. Either way, it takes its toll.

This brings me to the provincial hunt for a new leader of the conservative party. The Ontario Landowners Association (OLA) has been dealing with the Tim Hudak party for some time now and we have not been happy. Tim Hudak could have tried to get a private members bill passed to allow Bob Mackie to have archery on his property but NO ONE fought with us to try and right these wrongs which we told them about. Everyone seemed so intent on protecting the Niagara Escarpment Commission, which was a roomful of CEO’s and owners of gravel pits. Why is it OK to have more than 40 gravel pits on the escarpment but not an archery range? A wrong that was not fixed!

Patrick Brown has entered the conservative race along with 4 others, for Tim Hudak’s job. He is a Federal MP from Barrie and he seems to realize the mess we are in. He was enthusiastic about advertising in the Landowner Magazine and meeting the landowners for small dinners or house parties and I must admit, he is a breath of fresh air. He seemed genuinely concerned about our issues and unlike the others, wanted to hear our suggestions for fixing them. Most politicians don’t want to be seen with us yet they babble on about getting grass roots input. Well we have been knocking at the door of Queens Park many, many times in the past ten years to try and get someone who will listen to our grassroots problems with no success. So for this reason, the OLA is endorsing Patrick Brown for the Conservative leader and if anyone wants to buy or sell PC memberships for him, they can call the number from his ad on the back cover of the last issue of the Landowner magazine. If you are a card carrying PC member, you can vote on May 3 and 7th in your riding.

The deadline for buying a membership is Feb. 28.

We see him as a chance to bring a refreshing change to a broken party.