One of the most fundamental roles of government is the protection and preservation of property rights. Without such protection, our entire economy would cease to function. Property rights are the foundation of each individual and family’s financial security and prosperity. For example, farmers and ranchers need to know that their investment in their land and livelihood is protected and will not be devalued by others, including the government, without just compensation. Those owning residential or commercial property in urban, as well as rural, areas need to feel confident that not only will wrongdoers be criminally prosecuted for trespassing and vandalism, but also that government won’t pull the rug out from underneath their investments without fair notice and compensation.
The current PC Government has shown a complete lack of respect for basic property rights. With Bill 19, the Land Assembly Project Area Act (2009), the PC Government granted itself authority to freeze large tracts of private land for public purposes without having to fully compensate landowners for such things as relocation costs, losses incurred due to business interruption, and other related damages.
In the fall of 2010, the government passed Bill 24, the Carbon Capture and Storage Statutes Amendment Act, which was a simple declaration that all ‘pore space’ beneath the ground belongs to the government. ‘Pore space’ is a vague term referring to any spaces beneath the ground where CO2 can be stored (for their misguided carbon capture and storage initiative). According to common law, the landowner’s ownership extends to the centre of the earth. But rather than having to get permission from you to store liquefied gas under your land and compensate for any inconveniences, this Act gives the government the right to access your land and pump into your pore space whatever they want, whenever they want.
Bill 36, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (2009), divides the province into seven land use regions and authorizes Cabinet to implement “regional plans” for each area of the province. This means that central planners at the Legislature, rather than locally elected and accountable municipal councils, will specify what types of activities are going to be permitted or prohibited on Crown or private land. This Act also allows Cabinet to “extinguish” existing rights held under licenses, permits, leases, and approvals with limited or no compensation, and without the right of appeal.
And finally, Bill 50, the Electric Statutes Amendment Act (2009) mandates the construction of billions of dollars worth of new transmission lines crisscrossing private lands up and down Alberta, with the largest chunk of new transmission set up between northern Alberta coal generated electricity producers and Calgary in the south. Not only did this bill bypass the requirement of an objective Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) needs-based assessment (that quite likely would have shown that local natural-gas electricity generation would render much of the Bill 50 transmission lines unnecessary); it also resulted in the government offering billions of dollars in untendered transmission line building contracts to large corporate donors and friends of the PC Party. This backroom deal will likely result in a massive overbuild of transmission lines whose massive costs will be passed on to residential, farm and industrial ratepayers.
REPEAL BAD BILLS
- A Wildrose government will repeal bills 19, 24, 36 and 50
ENTRENCH PROPERTY RIGHTS
- Pass the Alberta Property Rights Preservation Act, entrench basic property rights in the Alberta Bill of Rights and spearhead a national initiative to add property rights to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
- Make sure that no private property shall be taken for public use without full, fair and timely compensation
- Fix a glaring omission in current property rights legislation where compensation is only given when title is taken by expropriation – we would make sure compensation is given for partially taken property and property devalued through government regulation
- Ensure energy development is conducted responsibly and properties affected by development are returned to landowners in essentially the same condition they were before development. If this isn’t possible, full and fair compensation will be provided.