Agents of various government bureaucracies monitor, & sometimes visit, private property across rural Ontario with or without owner consent. And devotees of such leisure time activities as hiking, hunting, fishing, bird watching & nature study are also occasionally seen on privately owned real estate, often but not always with owner permission.
Senior governments now invent & invoke layer upon duplicated layer of regulations that restrict use & so affect collateral worth & market value of private property. This assault on the very principle of freehold ownership in a free & democratic society is aided & abetted by some powerful special interest groups whose constituents occasionally visit private land in the guise of harmless pedestrians. Seldom mentioned are their subsequent reports of alleged sightings of rare flora and fauna to government agencies intent on secretly cataloguing selected properties for future regulation.
Constantly threatened with state surveillance & resulting manipulation of their property, private landowners might be well advised to adopt a standard, pro-active defense strategy centered on suggested parameters as follows:
1. Join & actively support a local landowner organization or citizen group
2. Post your property with “This Land is Our Land – Back Off Government” signs
3. Personally examine municipal tax roll records for provincial designations filed against your property
4. Appeal all property tax assessments on entire parcel carrying a “partial taking” by government designation
5. Deny property access to all government agents & leisure time enthusiasts without your advance permission
6. Seek professional advice prior to telephone or written discussion with government agents about your land
7. Ensure at least 2 other landowners are present at all meetings requested or arranged by government agents
8. On request, be prepared to attend pre-arranged meetings with government agents on a neighbor’s land
9. Record name, title, agency & office location of all government agents visiting your property by permission
10. If agents claim their visit requires no prior notice or permission, ask them to leave pending legal advice
11. Where possible, use a tape recorder for interviews on your property & so advise visiting agents in advance
12. Maintain a sequentially dated reference file of all government visits/discussions/interviews on your property
Its hoped this or a similar strategy for targeted landowners will be reviewed, edited as necessary & approved for member circulation by regional landowner organizations across Ontario. At their discretion, copies could even be distributed to the district office of various provincial agencies as well as to the media & elected politicians. After all, isn’t it about time that private landowners collectively demonstrated that they, like the TV announcer characterized in an old movie, are “mad as hell & simply not going to take it anymore”?
This suggestion, & any others that might help solidify & strengthen landowner resistance to excessive government control of private property, will be debated at OPERA’s next general meeting scheduled for April 24 at Peterborough.