Property rights are the fundamental basis of any free society.
I commend the United Conservatives for showing the fortitude to make this a key campaign plank. This is an issue that has been at the heart of the political culture of our constituency for 81 years.
Folks may remember the infamous PC land bills, highlighted by Bill 36 – the Land Stewardship Act.
You may remember Section 11, which gave the government the authority to ‘extinguish’ property rights in the pursuit of whatever the sitting government deems to be in the “public interest.”
We’ve seen the devastation of what the ‘green left’ ideology can do to the economy. Without property rights, the government can do whatever they choose to do with your land, and you have no right or recourse to stop them.
The United Conservatives are right to stand up for these rights. One of the cases referenced in their announcement was the case of David and Linda Hansen, a couple residing in the Special Areas.
The Hansen’s purchased property in the Special Areas in the 1980s, and shortly after was embroiled in a battle with the government over a dam that was on their land.
In his letter to the editor, Cessford native Colin McNiven (who, coincidently and unsurprisingly, is also neighbour to United Conservative candidate Nathan Horner) says that the Public Lands Act sets policy for the entire province.
This is simply not true.
It should be noted that the government department the Hansen’s were embroiled with was not the Ministry of Environment and Parks (which oversees the Public Lands Act) but the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (which oversees the Special Areas Act).
Notably, there is a clause in the Special Areas Act – Section 27 – which states “If any conflict between this Act and any other Act, this Act prevails.”
Under the Special Areas Act, specifically Section 7, landowners within their borders do not have any legal property rights.
The Act grants authority to the Special Areas Board, who are under the administration of the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
The Hansen’s never had any legal right to their land under the Special Areas Act. An interesting tidbit about that case: Abner Grover was, at the time, chairman of the Special Areas Board while his brother, Archie, was the Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs.
They were both within their legal right to expropriate the land. And the Hanson’s had no protection against a government arm that was bent on imposing their will, no matter the cost.
The United Conservatives under Jason Kenney took clear aim at the Special Areas Act in their announcement.
This is where things get interesting: The Special Areas Board, through use of fear tactics, has engineered a hostile takeover of the United Conservative Party in Drumheller-Stettler.
The influence of the Special Areas is present: countless campaign officials and Constituency Association board members have direct ties to the Special Areas Board itself.
However, without such stringent controls over landowners, their ability to rule as land-barons – as the act entitles them – fades away.
What is ironic is that they took over the riding to try and save the Special Areas.
This policy announcement by the United Conservatives all but ends it.
It’s nice to see Mr. McNiven standing up so boldly for his neighbours in the process. Even when he’s caught spreading ‘untruths’ in the process.