COLLECTED MEDIA EXCERPTS

As Previously Distributed by OPERA and Its Member Organizations

Self-Appointed Governors (condensed magazine article entitled “Ruling The World)

What are NGO’s and why do they want to rule the world? They are Non-Government Organizations and they want the job because they believe global governance is needed to combat the ills of globalization.

What do NGOs do? Using a mix of private and public funds they draft policies and resolutions on everything from global warming to poverty and then negotiate treaties and agreements with governments. That’s phase one. Once a government adopts or endorses these treaties and agreements, NGOs “sell” their implementation services to the private sector. That’s phase two.

NGOs typically focus on social issues though economic ones have lately moved to the forefront “to make”, in the words of the United Nations, “globalization more inclusive”. Critics describe them as an “army of social engineers”, out to transform the world into their own under-achieving likeness. NGOs want strong global governance too - strong as in Maurice Strong, the Manitoba-born, one man NGO whose treaties on everything from climate change to bio-diversity now provide the legal foundation for international environmental standards. Since 1992 Canada has ratified 230 binding agreements on the environment, many of which are Strong’s inventions.

Why should employers care? Just ask any resource industry trying to develop projects anywhere in the world. The ink is barely dry on the required feasibility study before NGOs come knocking. And when they knock, corporations must open the door and their wallets. To keep them shut is to incur the wrath of the globalization vice squad. NGOs are self-appointed trustees of the global commons, flexing their moral muscles over who they like to call “the rapacious developer”. They are a business and their business is your business.

There are now 17000 NGOs world-wide and new ones are popping up every day. While they claim a myriad of schemes to solve the world’s ills, most share a deep-seated suspicion of “the profit motive” and what they call “the corporate agenda”. Yet NGOs have their own agenda and it has often harmed rather helped the world’s poor. More worrisome still is that they are usurping the role of government and other elected bodies that are supposed to establish and enforce development standards. NGOs argue that governments lack the resources and political will to do their job properly. But don’t worry, they say, let us help.

Governments have legitimized the existence of NGOs and almost every country now has laws that require development proponents to fund NGOs. They call it “intervenor funding” though what it amounts to is paying critics to criticize your project. Other major concerns are national sovereignty and accountability. If global governance is the wave of the future, let’s establish institutions that ensure unbiased people are elected and made accountable to all their constituents. Because global governance without democracy is a recipe for global disaster. 

The Sierra Club (from the book “Trashing The Economy”)

a powerful NGO

        U.S. based - Canadian affiliate

        accredited by the United Nations

        professional government lobbyist

        greenmail expert against business

        ‘92 annual budget -$42 million U.S.

        uses environment to re-shape society

In the late 1990s an anonymous donor gave a Canadian university $1.6 million on condition Ms. Elizabeth May, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club in Canada, would be named Chairperson of its environmental faculty.

Letter to Ottawa Citizen from David Underwood (Association of Rural Property Owners)

The May 25 letter from Elizabeth May reminds us of Shakespeare’s “me thinks the lady doth protest too much”. Her attempt to show the Sierra Club’s effort to prevent the sale of two Candu nuclear power stations to China is based on concerns about improper Federal government actions is as transparent as, well, carbon dioxide.

Come clean, Ms. May. Pious hand wringing over legalities has nothing to do with it. Even if China wrote a $1.5 billion cheque tomorrow to buy this Canadian technology outright, your Club and its American overseers would still try to torpedo the sale.

Ms. May states that meeting the challenge of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations must be our No. 1 priority. So reducing China’s massive burning of fossil fuel for power generation must logically be one of the Sierra Club’s major tasks. As alternatives to nuclear power, what realistic measures has she suggested to China in calling for “serious and meaningful reductions in fossil fuel consumption”? By realistic, I exclude solar and wind power which, unless Ms. May can prove otherwise, haven’t the faintest hope of meeting China’s colossal energy needs. And blithely citing “new technologies” as the answer without naming them and proving their cost/benefits is a cop-out. Challenges are a two-edged sword, Ms. May.

Ms. May also notes that a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is urgently needed. Her remarks suggest that the environmental industry is not only fuzzy on practical science but also on basic economics. What specific, no-pie-in-the-sky methods does she propose - along with their proportional contributions - that will allow Canada to achieve a 60% reduction in gas emissions without our industry grinding to a halt and the country going bankrupt? Ms. May owes it to Canada and the world to make these solutions public.

Candidate Quiz for all Municipal, Provincial or Federal Elections (OPERA)

what’s their position on?

(1)        Unaccountable bureaucrats

(2)        Constitutional property rights

(3)        Unelected government tribunals

(4)        Public funding of special interests

(5)        Multi-Ministry land use prohibitions

(6)        Global governance without voter input

Rural Land Use (OMAFRA)

A Management Manual recently published by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) includes this prophetic paragraph:

Countryside as a Public Resource: While agricultural areas of North America are predominantly in private (vs. public) ownership, there is a view held by some in society that the countryside is a common or public resource. While many farmers would disagree with this view, there is the probability that over time legislation and local by-laws will increasingly reflect this perspective”.

The name and number of “some in society” who allegedly support arbitrary transfer of private property to the state is not provided. Nor is the author of this “probability” identified. But when a government Ministry muses that “regulatory impingement” on a farmer’s primary asset may be acceptable if not inevitable, can the whole free enterprise system in Canada be far behind?

Common Law (European Court of Human Rights)

It’s good that deposed kings have rights, even if commoners don’t. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Greece’s former King Constantine was illegally deprived of his private property by the Greek government in 1994, and that private property mustn’t be seized by the state without due process of law and fair compensation. In Canada, neither the Constitution nor the Charter of Rights and Freedoms offers any such protection. Pity us commoners!

Kent County Comment

You’re exhaling carbon dioxide as you read this. If it’s fair to tax carbon emissions from a smokestack, why not you? Why not your car? Your barbeque? If the current view of global warming prevails, the most obvious and immediate benefit will be to those who stand to gain from a system of regulation and taxation.

Conservation Comment (from a citizen letter to the Otonabee Conservation Authority)

“As a participant in the process that led to the Watersheds 2000 report I tabled concerns about wetland mapping and Ontario’s Fill, Construction and Alteration Waterways Regulations. Through these regulations many private properties have been inappropriately placed in an environmental/hazard designation or now require permits from the Conservation Authority and, in many cases, environmental assessments, prior to any development.

I therefore suggest Reeves and Deputy Reeves who sit on County Council defer any Authority recommendation to adopt or endorse the Watershed 2000 document and that planners be instructed not to include that recommendation in upper tier Official Plan amendments.

Drain Pipes or Fish Habitat (OPERA)

The County of Elgin recently sought a legal opinion to verify municipal drains are NOT fish habitat. Seems some of Ontario’s 38 Conservation Authorities now have contracts to enforce federal Fisheries and Oceans regulations that protect fish habitat in “watercourses”. The new Conservation Authorities Act in Ontario’s Bill 25 says any depression in the ground capable of holding water is a watercourse. Since municipal drains qualify as such, attempts have been made to impose fish habitat protection on rural municipalities by Conservation Authority decree in some parts of Ontario. But Elgin County politicians are evidently not intimidated by provincial and federal bureaucratic partnerships that seek to control municipal infrastructure via “regulatory impingement”, a stand now justified by their legal advisor.

Wildlife Technical Guide (Bob Woolham, Association of Rural Property Owners)

This Guide is an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources publication of some 132 pages and over 300 additional pages of Appendices. One of the latter, Appendix D, covers “Guidelines for Conducting Field Investigations” where passing reference is made to “ensuring that private property rights are respected”. In our view, this soothing comment is misleading, even deceptive.

One “right” of private land ownership is the prohibition of trespass on private property. The only way to adequately respect that right is to inform the landowner in advance of any interest in trespassing on his or her land and then obtaining written permission from that owner to do so. Will Appendix D be amended accordingly. Can Don Cherry curtsy? Do pigs fly?

The Wildlife Technical Guide appears to be a “how to” manual for special interest groups wishing to halt any development they believe might be too progressive or too big. There’s not any land, lake or landscape modification that couldn’t be derailed by following the processes suggested in this document. All wildlife habitat, hence all land, is “significant” for all species living there. But this Guide seems bent on first establishing and then exploiting an irrelevance to, if not disdain for, human inhabitants.

From “Issues and Concerns” Submission to Environment Minister Anderson (OPERA)

A steward is generally understood to be an employee who looks after property for the benefit of an owner. But the term “stewardship” has evolved to mean the careful management of resources and, in recent years, has been often used in relation to lands both owned and managed by individuals. Such use is inaccurate and tends to confuse the issue of who is to pay for habitat preservation.

Private landowners should be referred to as “managers” or “owner-operators” to indicate their unique state of tenure. Use of the word “stewardship” is appropriate to supervision of public lands by civil servants because they are in control of someone else’s property. Government and other policy contributors must recognize this important distinction.

Stewardship as proposed for Species At Risk legislation has many dangers for landowners who risk losing all their property rights as outsiders gain more control over how private land is utilized. The essence of land ownership is what one can do with it. When use is dictated by government or special interest groups the value of land decreases.

Private landowners are being asked to risk their property rights in return for citations and certificates which instil pride but are of little financial value. These “rewards” provide a warm feeling of satisfaction but they may have long term costs both real and unpleasant. Government and environmentalists who want owners of land to endorse species protection must provide (1) property rights legislation (2) compensation for all land which has its uses reduced by government decree.

Private Lands versus Public Heritage (Grey Association For Democracy And Growth)

A coalition of provincial bureaucracies and special interest groups, headquartered at Peterborough, are mapping and cataloguing all private and public land in Ontario. Launched in 1993 under the innocuous name of The Natural Heritage Information Centre, we’re told the major sponsors of this program are the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy (Canada), The Federation of Ontario Naturalists through The Natural Heritage League and The Nature Conservancy headquarters in the United States. Their mandate is said to centre on creation of a vast data bank on which all of Ontario’s resources, including wildlife and private property, are recorded using spy-in-the-sky satellite technology called The Geographic Information Survey (GIS).

This initiative will no doubt be defended as an environmental imperative for “the public good” although its precise funding and budget is not widely advertised. Most of the first is probably siphoned from the public purse while a good deal of the latter is likely routed to its private partners. In any case, most Ontario citizens, whose taxes help bank-roll this exercise in Big Brother surveillance, are denied many of its Internet details.

Seems the MNR excellent web site http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca links to NHIC but at a certain point the latter sub-site cannot be further explored without NHIC staff intervention and/or a valid user name and password. Small wonder! A document entitled “draft data use protocol” confirms that favourite MNR special interest groups, both Canadian and American, routinely assist with invention of “strategies for new decision-making and resource-management partnerships” in Ontario.

Cleared by name to access the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC) data base, The American Nature Conservancy is profiled in the U.S. best-seller “Trashing The Economy”:

“assets $855 million, annual budget $280 million, 1150 staff, 708,000 individual/405 corporate members - top of the list economy trasher and big money real estate firm - buys private land (at prices possibly first devalued by government regulation it may have helped formulate) for re-sale at substantial mark-ups to government agencies.

This is the outfit whose branch plant in Canada is an invited partner of MNR in the Natural Heritage Information Centre, lobbied the Ontario government for “public body status” on the Niagara Escarpment and was gifted $600 thousand taxpayer dollars by MNR in 1996 to “design a program whereby the Ontario government might acquire more private land for public parks”.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (OPERA)

When repatriated from England by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in the late 1970s, our Canadian Constitution confirmed citizens’ rights to own property, a principle affirmed in the British North America Act. But, after some debate, the Trudeau government decided to transfer that particular right to an enlarged, all-inclusive Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In 1982 the federal government, then headed by Prime Minister Brian Mulruney, introduced the Charter with much fanfare and glowing rhetoric. Many and varied rights for all Canadians except the right to own property were listed in that long-awaited document. What was the slip between cup and lip that removed property rights from the Canadian Constitution and then didn’t transfer it, as promised, to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Back room politics, that’s what!

Some provincial premiers opposed constitutional property rights at the time to protect expropriated mineral resources or restrict non-resident land ownership or safeguard income-security programs. Moreover, the Mulruney All Stars were persuaded to “forget” property rights in exchange for left-leaning opposition support for higher profile government initiatives.

So, of all the developed nations in the world today, even including the “new” Russia, it’s believed only Canada and Argentina refuse to constitutionally endorse the common law right of private land ownership. Small wonder provincial and federal bureaucracies in this country, influenced and manipulated by rich and powerful special interest groups, invent and enforce land use legislation that amounts to expropriation of private property without compensation. Would Crime Stoppers call it extortion, fraud or discrimination? YOU decide!

If you have any questions or comments, please Mr. R. A. Fowler, Secretary.
or write
O.P.E.R.A. c/o R.A. Fowler, Secretary P.O. Box 483, Durham, Ontario. N0G 1R0