With the March 10 election coming up soon, a look at behind-the-scenes matters in provincial politics that few ever hear about. The key questions are: If certain Canadian politicians are part of the problem, how can they be part of the solution? Are they leaders who are working to reduce corruption and liabilities, or are they enablers of such things?
By M. Samuel Anderson
Awakening News Chief Editor
The recent attacks by MPP Randy Hillier on embattled Simcoe-North MPP Patrick Brown came right after Brown had decided to run for Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party leadership post—a position he had just vacated over unsubstantiated sexual misconduct claims against him.
Brown felt there had been a rush to judgment and that democratic due-process—such as the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law over those claims—had been violated.
“There are disconcerting patterns related to the member’s personal finances,” the Toronto Star quoted Hillier as saying about Brown, as the Tory from Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington described the complaint he recently filed, accusing Brown of violating the Members’ Integrity Act.
Hillier’s attacks on Brown, however, may cause some Canadians to think about the classic “glass house” syndrome, which says: “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” Put another way: “Let he or she who is without sin cast the first stone.”
Brown, who indeed may have some income-reporting matters that need to be explained, has had a tough time lately beating back those sexual misconduct charges while working to re-ignite his political career via a petition campaign—a campaign based on the idea that his basic due-process rights have been violated.
WHAT ABOUT EVERYDAY CANADIANS?
Canadian citizens see countless violations of their rights regularly, including in the workplace and in terms of their land, homes and businesses. But since they’re not politically-connected, their plight doesn’t make big headlines.
And for everyday Canadians, seeking recourse is tough, because repeated efforts by the citizenry to achieve justice too often are ignored or strung along, according to the direct experiences of the founders of Awakening News and of citizens with whom we’ve spoken.
In his attacks on Brown, Mr. Hillier—the Canadian Landowner Alliance founder who’s been making headlines about wanting to improve property rights—is among those saying that Brown is “unfit” to head the PC Party.
MEAT OF THE MATTER: THE WILSON LETTER
While occupying his former position of Critic to the Ministry of Labour, MPP Hillier was informed about intellectual property being stolen under the roof of Casino Rama near Orillia, Ontario. Documentation was presented to him in person.
The property rights champion also was informed of the details and history of the government having bulldozed a significant chunk of a fish hatchery / bait shop operation without following the law. More on that in a moment.
The intellectual-property matter being discussed here, which coincides with the squelching of free speech, was a newsletter which had reported alleged human rights violations at the workplace (Casino Rama). These are apparent violations that the regular media, awash in gambling-advertising dollars, won’t report.
Casino management censored and removed copies of the newsletter that had made their way onto casino grounds. Meanwhile, employees wanting to blow the whistle about various alleged internal problems evidently were being obstructed and threatened.
Importantly, Mr. Hillier—when he was Labour Critic, meaning he’s had plenty of time to process the information—was also given a copy of a key letter that MPP Jim Wilson had written to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, dated Feb. 25, 2015. See letter image directly below and/or click on the highlighted link just below the image.
Wilson’s letter called Premier Wynne’s attention to allegations contained in an accompanying letter from a constituent—sent to Wynne along with Wilson’s letter—about apparent Casino Rama workplace violations in violation of the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA), including the longtime refusal to remove physical hazards on the casino floor, and the obstruction of free speech and the discouragement of whistleblowers at the casino seeking to speak out about OHSA violations.
Wilson, at the time he received the letter, was interim leader of the opposition. Patrick Brown, a former MP, eventually replaced him in that very same position. However, the letter and the issues surrounding it were never addressed again and everything got very quiet, even though Brown was given the same detailed information that had been provided to his current critic, Mr. Hillier and to Mr. Wilson. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also was given the information.
And all these politicians were made aware that several agencies, such as the Ministry of Labour and Ontario Provincial Police, also had been notified of these developments but had basically “passed the buck” down the “chain” to other authorities.
‘WYNNE-ING’ STRATEGY OVERLOOKED?
At the very least, you’d think that the conservatives named here would question Liberal Premier Wynne on why nothing was done about these matters—if only to score political points for the voters, by portraying Wynne an “enabler” of Labour and constitutional-property rights violations.
Yet, the Conservatives themselves, through apparent willful neglect, failed to assist in resolving the allegations of breaches of Labour laws and/or the seizure and censorship of intellectual property at the casino, with the limited exception of MPP Wilson. But even he became silent after that. This near-total silence and the passing of the buck has gone on for years.
BEYOND CASINO ISSUES
This begs the question: Isn’t it fair to say that all those who have not effectively responded—Hillier, Brown, Wynne and current Labour Minister Kevin Flynn—are enablers of the lingering casino problems and the growth of liabilities, precisely due to their indifference and inaction?
Take note that, with the noted exception of Wilson, none of the politicians even so much as replied with a form letter just to say, “Thank you for your concerns,” even though they’ve all been informed also about the even more egregious injustices surrounding the heavy-handed expropriation and destruction of an Ontario business, Fisherman’s Cove, where due-process of law was flouted.
As for Mr. MPP Hillier, he and three other politicians (another MPP and two MPs, including Scott Reid), speaking at a property-rights forum in May 2017, touched on intellectual property but didn’t delve into matters surrounding disturbances and damages whenever private land is taken by the state for public use, a process known as “eminent domain” in the U.S.
One is reminded of the fatal contaminated-water incident at a beef farm some 15 years ago in Walkerton, Ontario. Local government employees were found guilty of forgoing documents to cover up not fixing water treatment equipment being used to eliminate contaminants from farming operations. In the Fisherman’s Cove expropriation employees inside the Ontario government also forged documents to cover up the destruction of Fisherman’s Cove water-preservation project.
That business developed innovative fish-hatchery technology to reduce the over-mining of the earth’s groundwater, as well as drastically reduce the amount of pollutants coming from hatcheries, which are part of the farming community.
KEY COURT DECISION
Recall that the Supreme Court of Canada, in its mid-1990’s Toronto Transit Vs Dell Holdings ruling found that the expropriating authority (the government agency taking private land for public use) must address disturbances and damages on the date of notification. The ruling was retroactive and therefore applied to the 1991 bulldozing of Fisherman’s Cove—which, ironically, was done to widen the road for Casino Rama.
So, viewed through the lens of the Court’s decision, when the government came to Fisherman’s Cove in August 1991 to expropriate most of the land of the business, that’s when disturbance-and-damage estimates should have been explicitly addressed—consisting of a survey of what facilities are on the land, what will be removed and the cost estimates to rebuild (on the remaining land, if possible).
Remember, when government seeks to widen roads, build highways or create other public works and needs privately-owned land to do it, the private land owner is supposed to be justly compensated and treated fairly with due process of law. But that didn’t happen with Fisherman’s Cove, even after that Supreme Court ruling gave the politicians who’ve been contacted repeatedly about this matter—including property rights advocate Hillier—the legal leeway to act.
The Fisherman’s Cove saga ended on a particularly ironic note. The government tore down the facilities and, as years passed, the disturbances and damages rules that were never properly addressed when the land-taking began remained unaddressed. But in the latter 1990s, the authorities tried to claim, in effect, “There’s nothing on the land so no compensation is owed.”
How’s that for fairness: Pretend like the assets on the land never existed.
An article published by Toronto Star reporter Desmond Devoy about the above-noted property rights forum quotes MP Reid’s thoughts on expropriations: “There are very few complaints about actual expropriation aside from the odd unintended bureaucratic hiccup.”
Surely the Del Holdings ruling is more than a hiccup. One wonders how much land has been removed from the free market by the government’s expropriating bodies across Canada and kept in limbo by changing the closing date for years, as was done at Fisherman’s Cove.
Another “hiccup” was the ruling in Newfoundland in the expropriation of a large paper producer known as Abitibi. But Hillier told an Awakening associate editor that because Abitibi was operating under NAFTA, disturbances and damages were required to be addressed. After discussing this issue over the phone, Hillier and that associate editor both concluded that had Fisherman’s Cove been owned by a U.S. Corporation and/or a person, operating under NAFTA, the Ontario Government would have been legally obliged to demolish and rebuild on the land not expropriated (taken).
IS CANADA PRE-MAGNA CARTA?
But the thing most people don’t realize when it comes to land rights is that when government takes enough of someone’s land to harm the remaining land’s value or render it useless for conducting business, the land is basically frozen out of productive use.
Yet, because the landowner must keep paying taxes on the remaining land, he or she is a continued source of revenue for the government, even while the part of their land that was expropriated was acquired by government for a relatively low price.
Has the landowner, who funds the government with taxes on the one hand and sometimes must forfeit land to the government on the other, a virtual creditor for the government—part financier and part land-banker?
And wouldn’t facing these issues head-on help build an even stronger case to entrench property rights in the Constitution, as Hillier seeks to do? You’d think so.
Thus, it’s a riddle as to why Hillier, Brown, Wynne and other political figures have remained quiet for so long—failing to respond to the Wilson letter and therefore not bothering to confront and explain the Casino Rama-Fisherman’s Cove matters to the mainstream press or public; moreover, what happened to Fisherman’s Cove and has been happening at Casino Rama are common occurrences across Canada. They are but prime examples.
Attempted contacts with the mainstream press about these and other pertinent matters from Awakening News also have been met with silence. So, all things considered, it’s like Canadian democracy has either been dissolved or is in a state of suspended animation, almost as if the Magna Carta* of 1215 never happened. The serfs upon the land (and in the workplace) of today are virtually indistinguishable from the serfs of yore.
* Hundreds of years before American colonists revolted against the crown, rebel nobles in England drafted the Magna Carta to curtail the power of their own tyrannical monarch–King John. While the Magna Carta, first signed in 1215, primarily secured liberties for England’s elite classes, its language protecting due process and barring absolute monarchy has guided the fundamental principles of common law in constitutions around the world for the last 800 years. The Magna Carta brought an end to the absolute power of English sovereigns as they, too, were required to be held accountable by the law. ###