Here in Alberta and across Canada, it is getting more and more difficult for individuals to have their property rights protected. The rights of citizens to own and use property are essential in the modern economy. Yet, little by little, governments have directly and indirectly chipped away at these rights. It’s time for Alberta to take the lead within Confederation in strengthening and entrenching property rights.
- Property Rights Referendum: In the 2019 election, the UCP was elected on a platform that included holding a referendum to, “Propose an amendment to the Constitution to enshrine property rights in Alberta.” In addition, at the 2019 UCP annual general meeting, Premier Kenney promised, “We will hold a referendum on an amendment; to the constitution in October of 2021 to entrench property rights into our constitution.” No such referendum was held. It’s time for the UCP to live up to its word and hold a referendum in conjunction with the 2023 provincial election.
- Fulfilling a Broken Promise: The UCP government has failed to live up to another key election promise, that being to write and approve an Alberta Property Rights Protection Act to, ‘entrench the right not to be deprived of enjoyment or use of property without due process of law.’
Enacted in 1972, the Alberta Bill of Rights enshrines, “the right of the individual to liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except by the due process of law.” However, the Alberta Bill of Rights has a limited scope, and it can be overridden by the Legislature. Past governments have repeatedly done so, with legislation like Bill 50, Bill 19, Bill 36, and Bill 10. It’s time to keep our 2019 election promise and overhaul all legislation that conflicts with the property rights protections outlined in the Alberta Bill of Rights.
- Property Rights in an Alberta Constitution: Constitutions are unique documents. Properly written, they protect the rights and freedoms of citizens from over-reaching governments. The creation of a written Constitution for Alberta is an opportunity to engage with families and communities from every region and build inclusive vision for our province.
In addition, under Section 45 of the national Constitution Act, certain changes to provincial constitutions may be reflected in the Constitution of Canada. This provides our province with a new avenue to be exercise influence on the national stage.
- Prevent Federal Trespassing: The Government of Saskatchewan recently amended its Trespass to Property Act to specifically include the Crown, in a move designed to prevent federal government employees from accessing private land without seeking permission from the property owners. Alberta’s government should also strengthen its trespassing legislation, by making an amendment to the Petty Trespass Act similar to the change made by Saskatchewan.
- Mandatory Minimums for Trespassing: In 2019 the UCP government introduced and approved a number of changes to trespassing laws, setting new maximum penalties and fines for trespassers, first time trespassers, and corporations that help or direct trespassers. While increasing maximum penalties may have temporarily raised public awareness in the short term, such fines are rarely if ever imposed. If we’re going to provide an effective deterrent, minimum penalties should be reviewed
- Right to Farm Act: Building a farm or livestock operation is not quick or inexpensive. Most farms in Alberta are multi-generation undertakings that cost millions or tens of millions of dollars. They cannot be relocated at the drop of a hat. Farmers and ranchers want and deserve the certainty to know that their efforts can’t be arbitrarily wiped out by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen. It’s time to increase legal protections for our agriculture industry with a Right To Farm Act. This Act will establish a priority of prior use principle within Alberta’s planning and development laws. This is designed to protect farms and ranches ability to continue operations based on the use of land for agricultural operation prior to newer neighboring developments.
- Respecting responsible gun owners: The current federal government is going out of its way to portray the responsible owners of legally purchased firearms across Canada as a danger to society. Nothing could be further from the truth. We need the federal government to focus on the illegal importation of guns into Canada for criminal activities and stopping criminal activity.
In order, to legally purchase firearms in Alberta an individual is subject to background checks and is required to take part in training courses. Gun safety is something to be celebrated and encouraged. Alberta must use every tool possible, including a property rights Act and an Alberta constitution to stop any intrusion by the federal government on property rights which includes stopping any Federal “buy back” schemes. Personally, I have an Authorization to Carry and I would like to see more opportunities for legal responsible firearm owners, not less.