House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was public.

Topics

Wage Earner Protection Program Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine
Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Canada—U.S.)

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to participate in the debate on this government bill.

I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-55 which proposes a comprehensive reform to Canada's insolvency system. The bill itself, as was just mentioned, is called the wage earner protection program act.

Insolvency legislation is a critical market place framework law. It influences the assessment of credit risks. It impacts on entrepreneurship and competitiveness. Insolvency legislation also enables resources to remain productive or to be efficiently redeployed. It preserves assets and permits a fair distribution among creditors. Insolvency legislation provides a mechanism for the restructuring of debtors' financial affairs.

In past years, however, insolvency issues have been getting increased public attention. A number of high profile companies, such as Air Canada and Stelco, have used the insolvency system to restructure, attracting considerable media coverage. Stelco, for instance, is the principal owner of a company in my riding which has been affected obviously by the use of the insolvency system that we have in place.

Insolvency stakeholders, including practitioners, labour unions and even judges, have publicly talked about the impact of insolvency legislation on the Canadian economy and keep drawing attention to these issues.

I am a lawyer by training and I can remember one of the courses that I had to take in law school was bankruptcy law and insolvency. While l found it to be quite dry, it ended up being one of the courses where I got some of my best marks, so I remember a little bit of it. I will not claim to remember a lot of it. Precisely because there have been a number of high profile companies that have used the insolvency system that we have here in Canada and because we have had stakeholders who have talked publicly about the impact that this legislation or our existing framework has on the Canadian economy, I have tried to educate myself a little bit more about it and try to remember some of what I learned in law school.

Indeed, business insolvencies have a sizable economic impact. Approximately 12,000 businesses use the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act annually. This includes bankruptcies and proposals. Another 50 cases proceed under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, CCAA. While smaller in number, the cases under CCAA typically involve large, publicly traded companies. The impact of insolvency proceedings are always significant for those involved whether it be shareholders, business partners, suppliers, customers, lending institutions and of course, the workers, the employees of those very companies that embark on insolvency proceedings.

There have been reforms in 1992 and again in 1997, but despite these reforms there is a broad consensus that another round of reform is required. The government needs to ensure that our insolvency system responds to the needs of the work market place and provides the necessary protection to those who are adversely affected by bankruptcy, namely, the workers.

At the forefront of Bill C-55 is a clear recognition on the part of the government that the present insolvency system lacks an effective way to protect workers whose employers go bankrupt.

The wage earner protection program act established by Bill C-55 would remedy this problem. It would ensure that workers receive compensation for the wages owed and the vacation earned but not paid, up to a maximum of $3,000 per worker. This program would ensure that these amounts are paid in a timely manner and are not dependent on whether or not there are sufficient assets in the bankrupt estate.

Under the current system, Canadian workers have to wait, possibly as long as three years, until the insolvency proceeding is completed and those with secured assets or interests have been fully paid prior to the workers receiving the pay that they have earned and for the vacations that they have earned but had not yet taken, and even then in most cases they wind up being paid only a fraction of the wages owed to them.

In fact, under the current system, three-quarters of workers receive nothing when their employer goes bankrupt. On average, those who do receive something under the insolvency proceedings, once the secured interests have been paid, that is, the creditors who have secured interests under the current law, only 13¢ on the dollar is left to pay the workers. That is it. For every dollar the workers are owed, if they are lucky they receive 13¢, but three-quarters of them receive zip, zero, nada, niente. If there are any other languages that someone in the House knows to say “nothing”, use it, because that is what the workers receive.

Often the most vulnerable workers are adversely affected. They are frequently in low wage jobs in small companies in sales, services and the construction industry. That is simply not fair. If there is one thing that Canadians pride themselves on, and if there is one thing that most if not all members of Parliament in this House pride themselves on, it is trying to be fair. We try to be fair when we review legislation to ensure that it is reasonable, justified, and that it actually does achieve most of the benefits that it is supposed to.

These workers never agreed to be creditors to their employers. They agreed to do a job for x number of hours for a specific amount of pay and to receive certain benefits, and if they maintained their side of the bargain, the employer had a condition and a bargain to pay them. Unfortunately, when companies go bankrupt, three-quarters of the workers receive nothing.

It is not part of the workers' contracts where they agree that if their company or employer goes bankrupt, they will be creditors for whatever wages or vacations they have earned and are owed. They did not sign a contract like that, so it is not fair that they should have to stand at the back of the line in order to get paid. Why should they run the risk of coming up empty-handed? They are not secured creditors. That is not part of the contract that they sign with their employer.

It is precisely for those reasons, among others, that the government has tabled Bill C-55, the establishment of the wage earner protection program act. It is about fairness and about helping Canada's most vulnerable workers. Bill C-55 will ensure that workers get their wages quickly when they most need them.

Under the proposed legislation, affected workers will be able to make their wage claim right away and should receive their money about six weeks later. That will be good news for these workers.

Another important step taken in Bill C-55 is to address the concerns over the lack of predictability and consistency in the application of the insolvency law, specifically the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. The CCAA has very few rules and has primarily evolved through judge made law.

I am sure that the Conservatives will be very happy to hear this, because they are always talking about judicial activism and that law making and rule making should be up to the elected officials and the House. I am sure they will be in agreement that there is a pressing need for increased legislative guidance so as to ensure that all players in the insolvency context are equipped to defend their interests.

The international insolvency context has also evolved in the last decade. An increasing number of Canadian companies have U.S. subsidiaries. They have significant assets in the U.S. and important U.S. creditors. More Canadian companies are filing currently under chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code as cross-border insolvencies are becoming more frequent.

However, there have been some companies that have filed primarily under chapter 11. This raises no policy issue if it is the result of a business decision by the company. The decision to file primarily under chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code should not be because there are gaps in the Canadian insolvency system. With Bill C-55 the government wishes to ensure that our insolvency system reflects the needs and reality of the Canadian marketplace. It seeks to ensure that our system is equipped to deal effectively with complex cases.

In conclusion, the reform of the Canadian insolvency legislation proposed in Bill C-55 is comprehensive and balanced. I believe it clearly serves Canadian interests. I would urge all members of the House to support Bill C-55 and to allow its reference to committee as quickly as possible.

Wage Earner Protection Program Act
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, prior to the introduction of Bill C-55 there was going to be, if my memory serves me well, introduction of a private member's bill sponsored by the member for Winnipeg Centre. I think it was Bill C-281. I was prepared to support that bill, as I am prepared to support Bill C-55.

One question I have is on a point of clarification. Before I get to that let me say that I am prepared to support this bill even though there are some questions as to whether the passage of this legislation might tighten up the financing options of some small businesses. Lending institutions may feel that they are getting squeezed out of what might be a situation in which they had to recover money but are dropped in the order of preference. There may be some question as to whether lending institutions are going to be as willing to lend money to small and medium size businesses in the future.

I still think this is an important piece of legislation. It has certainly been my realization that when insolvency and bankruptcy occur, the people who, quite frankly, really get screwed are the workers. This is an important step to ensure that at least the working men and women who perhaps have worked for 25 or 30 years at a company that eventually goes bankrupt have some recompense.

My question is one of clarification and it deals with pensions. Let us assume hypothetically that someone had worked for 35 years for a company and was already receiving a pension. How will this bill deal with that? Let us assume for a moment that the individual who was in a contributory pension plan had over the course of his or her lifetime contributed close to $100,000 into a pension fund and had received, because he or she had retired a number of years earlier, $50,000 in benefits and then the company eventually went bankrupt. What steps, if any, does this legislation take to protect the pension of that individual? Exactly what rights would that person have under this legislation?

Wage Earner Protection Program Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I knew somebody would ask me a specific question that I could not answer. I apologize to the member. I cannot answer that specific question.

I can talk in generalities in the sense that there are some pension plans offered by employers which are outside of insolvency. They have been secured elsewhere and people who are retired and are receiving their pensions have no problem.

There are other pension plans which are not secured, in the sense that they are not fully funded in order to ensure that everyone who is receiving a pension is secured going into the future if there is a company closure, a bankruptcy, or whatever.

I cannot answer that specific question, but I have to say it is an excellent question. I will certainly bring it to the minister so that either a member on this side of the House in the coming debate can include the answer in a speech, or if that is not possible, I hope it will be referred to committee and the answers will be given fully in committee. However, I thank the hon. member for the question; it is a good one.

Wage Earner Protection Program Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I also want to point out to the hon. parliamentary secretary that we will be supporting this bill. This is a welcome initiative under the circumstances. I may get to address its substance at a later time.

I have a question for her, especially since she has legal training. My understanding is that there was an opportunity to evaluate how this bill could be harmonized with certain laws, including provincial laws. As far as Quebec is concerned, we have the Civil Code, and some cross-referencing would probably be appropriate and necessary.

Our suggestion would be to seek expert advice on the subject. At any rate, I would like the parliamentary secretary to tell us whether this research has been done.

The same goes for the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, on the subject of reciprocity provisions when foreign law interferes with the bankruptcy issue.

I wonder if my question is clear enough.

Wage Earner Protection Program Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Bloc member for his question and statement that he intends to support this bill. I imagine that he is convinced of the rationale for the objectives of this bill.

Insofar as the harmonization of this bill with provincial legislation, such as the Civil Code of Quebec, is concerned, an effort would usually have been made to check whether there is any overlap in the federal and provincial jurisdictions. I do not think that there is any such overlap.

However, as the member said, this should normally have been done. This should be part of the process for developing any bills at the federal level in order to ensure that there is no encroachment on jurisdictions that are clearly provincial. In the case of shared jurisdictions, we must ensure that no province has already passed legislation in this particular jurisdiction.

In regard to consistency or reciprocity on the international level, the goal of this bill has to do with the development of the market and the private sector. Many Canadian companies have acquisitions or own subsidiaries in the United States because of deficiencies in our system. They have chosen to declare themselves American or to take advantage of the American legislation and legal framework. If they make this decision, we want it to be a business decision and not one based on deficiencies in the Canadian system.

Wage Earner Protection Program Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Newton—North Delta to participate in the debate on Bill C-55. I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia.

The bill makes many changes to the law governing bankruptcy and insolvency. The changes include the creation of the wage earner protection program act to ensure employees of bankrupt companies receive their unpaid wages in a timely manner. There is the reduction from 10 years to 7 years in the period during which a student debt may not be discharged through bankruptcy. Locked in RRSPs would no longer be part of the assets which may be taken in a bankruptcy. There are changes to encourage the restructuring of viable but financially troubled companies. Also, income trusts will now be covered.

Most of the major proposed changes are ones recommended in the report of the Senate banking committee published in November 2003. Many of the committee's recommendations, however, especially regarding consumer debt, have been watered down or not included in the bill.

In Canada every week dozens of companies declare bankruptcy and close down. There is a threat of interest rate hikes in the near future. This is bad news for indebted Canadians. Excessive borrowing by many households over the past few years suggests that they have little freedom to absorb economic shocks with higher interest rates or skyrocketing home heating costs.

A 1% jump in consumer borrowing rates would cost non-mortgage-holding Canadians an average of $35 per month and mortgage holders an average of $130 per month. These seemingly small sums could be catastrophic for today's highly leveraged households. As legislators we must keep all of this in mind as we consider changes to the nation's bankruptcy laws.

The wage earner protection program is the centrepiece of Bill C-55. The program is intended to help protect workers by providing a guaranteed payment of wages owed up to $3,000 should their employer declare bankruptcy. Right now workers' claims for unpaid wages rank after secured creditors' claims. As a result, many employees have to wait from one to three years to get a small portion of the wages owed to them, generally 13¢ per dollar on average. Under the proposed program affected workers could make their wage claim immediately and should receive their money about six weeks later.

The government has made changes to the ranking of who gets paid first to put wages ahead of secured creditors. As a result, employees will get up to $2,000 in back wages before the banks are paid.

Just last week there was a constituent in my office who had lost wages owed to him when his employer went bankrupt. Over the last couple of years with lumber mills closing in British Columbia as a consequence of the softwood lumber dispute and which the government has failed to do anything about, there have been many others who have visited my office with similar complaints.

Workers of bankrupt businesses are often the most vulnerable. They work in low wage jobs and live from paycheque to paycheque to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. The wage earner protection program is a good idea whose time should have come long ago.

Putting workers ahead of secured creditors, however, may reduce the amount of money banks are willing to lend to businesses. In the short term this could result in an increase in the number of small business bankruptcies. Lending institutions may have to adjust lines of credit or demand loans because they feel they are undersecured. Already it is difficult for small businesses to borrow money in Canada and we know that small businesses are the engine of our economy.

If it becomes more challenging, the small businessman will either falter or they may not get off the ground. This change to the bankruptcy law would also reduce what companies can spend to buy inventory and fill orders which, ultimately, could cost more jobs.

The government estimates that the cost of this WEPP program could reach $50 million per year. Given the government's track record on managing taxpayer dollars, such as the gun registry, the HRDC boondoggle or the sponsorship scandal, it is likely that the cost will be even higher.

In its report, the Senate banking committee recommended that student debt be eligible to be erased in a bankruptcy five years after the student has completed his or her studies. This is very important because many students in Canada depend on loans to further their education. In cases of hardship, the recommendation was that the court be allowed to discharge student loan debt in a period of time shorter than five years.

Bill C-55 does not go as far as recommended by the committee. Instead, the government proposes amending the law to allow student loans to be eligible to be written off in a bankruptcy if a student has terminated his studies seven or more years ago. In cases of undue hardship, a bankrupt may apply to court to obtain a discharge of the student loans after five years.

Most trustees in bankruptcy and insolvency lawyers believe that this proposed amendment should be changed to allow student debt to be erased in the same timeframe as the other dischargeable debt; that is, when the bankrupt is discharged.

The law as it stands and the proposed amendment are discriminatory. It is also in violation of one of the major tenets of Canadian bankruptcy that an honest but unfortunate debtor deserves a fresh financial start.

Half of the students in college and university are borrowing at record levels to finance their education hoping their investment will pay off. Loans are becoming essential for many students, as soaring tuition fees make it necessary and nearly impossible for youth to afford school through summer jobs or part-time work alone.

Last year the average tuition fee in British Columbia was nearly $5,000 but few students make more than $10 an hour. On average, students graduating with bachelor degrees owe more than $20,000 in government debt, not including private loans. This year the Liberals increased student loan limits from $165 to $210 per week. Higher student loan limits and higher tuition costs ensure that students will continue to graduate with higher debt loads.

I am disappointed to see that Bill C-55 neglects to offer protection to firms as well as to students to the extent that it should be needed.

The Conservative Party generally supports some of the amendments. We will be seeking further clarification on the impact these proposed changes will have on Bill C-55 when we review the bill in committee.

Wage Earner Protection Program Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5:30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from April 21 consideration of the motion.

Property Rights
Private Members' Business

October 4th, 2005 / 5:30 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of rising to speak to Motion No. 227. I will read it for the benefit of those listening. It reads:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should ensure that full, just and timely compensation be paid to all persons who are deprived of personal or private property or suffer a loss in value of that property as a result of any government initiative, policy, process, regulation or legislation.

I have the pleasure of presenting the views of our political party. For those who may not be aware, Quebec is governed by its Civil Code, and the Civil Code applies to everything within Quebec's jurisdiction.

A problem arises for Quebec because, in any area of federal jurisdiction or with respect to anything involving federal property, expropriation or repossession, the federal government is not required to abide by the Civil Code of Québec. The thought must have crossed the mind of the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville, who brought this motion forward, that we would be in favour of a more equitable and more expeditious settlement. But the problem lies in the fact that Quebec already has legislation which goes much further than the member's motion. Let me summarize what the Civil Code of Québec clearly stipulates:

The owner of a property cannot be forced to relinquish his property unless by lawful expropriation for a cause that is in the public interest and with fair compensation in advance

It is therefore clear in the minds of Quebeckers that, when provincial, regional, or in some cases supraregional, governments expropriate or take away a person's property, these governments do have certain powers of expropriation. They do, however, have to pay citizens—not the value of their property—but fair and equitable compensation. This is why it is important to make a distinction between value and compensation.

The hon. member's motion calls for reimbursement of the value, an idea which we cannot obviously be opposed to. We do not want a dispossessed citizen reimbursed solely for the accounting, tax or municipal value of his property. Being dispossessed of his property is worth far more, and I am well placed to know that.

As the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, I am well aware of what the federal government did when it expropriated property for Mirabel Airport and of the endless challenges from the local people. The wounds from that have not yet healed. There are no longer any flights out of that airport. That is what the federal Liberal government did at Mirabel. The Conservatives, of course, did restore the lands to their owners, but they were also involved in this mess.

How so? Because the landowners were not reimbursed fairly. They were not compensated for all losses incurred. When I say losses, I do not mean just material losses or property values, I mean lost business. Often, when major expropriations are carried out, always, or nearly always, as if by magic, agricultural land is involved. They need vacant land, to be used for reserves, parks, airport infrastructures, so they use farm land, thereby uprooting entire families. The Mirabel expropriation in Quebec is the largest population displacement since the deportation of the Acadians. That is the reality surrounding Mirabel airport. Many people were expropriated and displaced. When they were told to move out, they had no choice. The government calls the shots.

I can understand my colleague's feeling that these people must be compensated fairly and promptly for the value of the losses incurred. The problem lies in the fact that we are not just dealing with a loss of value; we are talking about compensation for all the other damages that can arise out of a displacement. This we can understand.

In Quebec, decisions were made by the federal government, for instance to create protected areas, reserves or parks in farming areas. The immediate reaction of farmers was, “We will plow it all and there will be no more protected species. We will plant crops and we will take care of the land”. The aim of this reaction was to avoid expropriation.

In fact, farmers are well aware that they will not be compensated for any losses other than material ones. When people lose a business or their entire history, because they were raised on that land, they are losing all the value it holds to them. That is what happened at Mirabel; families were uprooted. It is not just about the material value of land or buildings, it is also about the value of being displaced. In Quebec, this has already been set out in the Civil Code. Fair payment and prior compensation for damages, and not just the loss in value, is required. That is why we oppose this motion.

Everywhere else in Canada, where common law applies, there is a kind of legal vagueness, obviously, because expropriation is recognized but the compensation criteria have not been defined. So I can understand the member who wants to obtain support for a motion.

Our recommendation, and I am speaking as a representative of the Bloc Québécois, would be to move a new motion ensuring compensation for all harm suffered. The Bloc Québécois would give its full support for such a motion. That way, when a government decides to expropriate or relocate landowners, it would ensure not only, as the member states in his motion, timely compensation for those who suffer a loss in value but also timely compensation for all harm or damages suffered.

Under those circumstances, we would agree. Obviously, I believe that the member will understand our position since Quebec has the Civil Code, which applies to all other expropriations. This is not the case at the federal level. So, Quebec already has legislation, a code drafted by the legislators in the National Assembly. There is already a procedure for compensating expropriated residents for all the harm suffered. It is hard for us to recognize that the federal government takes a different approach to compensation. We will continue to fight to ensure compensation for all harm suffered. A perfect example of this is the people of Mirabel, whose wounds have not yet healed.

A motion was passed in this House to return to the farmers in Mirabel the 11,000 acres of land that the federal government expropriated in excess of what was needed. The airport already had 6,000 acres, which is twice the surface area available to the largest airports in the world. The airport already has enough and we are calling on the government to give this land back. Again, even though a motion was passed in this House, the government is not reacting. It is difficult for Quebecers watching us today to see that a motion will be passed on the swift reimbursement of a loss in property value.

It is also difficult for those watching us, to adopt such a procedure. What we want and what Quebeckers want, quite simply, is that if ever anyone is affected by expropriation or relocation, that the federal government will apply the same legislation in effect in Quebec. We want people to be compensated as soon as possible, in a fair manner, for all the harm they may suffer, as recognized under the Civil Code of Quebec.

The Bloc Québécois will vote against this motion. It is calling on the hon. member to improve the motion and table a new one, or for one of his colleagues to do so. Then the Bloc will be prepared to support it, if the new motion uses the same terms found in the Civil Code of Quebec, namely compensation for all harm suffered by citizens during expropriation.

Property Rights
Private Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Lanark, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Motion No. 227 put forward by my colleague, the member for Yorkton—Melville.

Private ownership of property and the development of that property is the basis of our national economic growth and prosperity and yet the proclamation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 did not include property rights.

Property rights should include the right to buy, maintain, sell, bequeath or enjoy one's properties. As a Canadian citizen, one's right to own property is not guaranteed. It sounds outrageous but it is entirely true. The right to own property was intentionally left out of the Charter of Rights. Consequently, today Canadians can have their property expropriated by the government and receive nothing in return.

For a country that prides itself on being the champion of human and individual rights, we have displayed an appalling tolerance of governments that infringe on the property rights of landowners. Governments at all levels, federal, provincial and municipal, too often display a blatant scorn for landowners, especially rural landowners.

Expropriation is just one way that governments exploit landowners. In recent years, governments have increasingly been placing unreasonable restrictions and regulations on landowners that diminish property values and infringe on their ability to use their property as they see fit. Zoning laws, heritage regulations and conservation designations are just some of the ways in which governments impose restrictions on the rights of property owners.

Last year, in my own riding of Carleton—Mississippi Mills, the City of Ottawa hired a consultant who recommended that some 260 hectares of rural land in the former township of Goulbourn be designated wetland. When the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources agreed with the consultant's findings, the City of Ottawa was forced to undertake the process of amending its official plan to recognize the new wetland areas.

The problem is that much of this property is in the hands of 60 private landowners who correctly fear that a wetland designation would prohibit development and, hence, lower its commercial value. The response of the landowners has been to take matters into their own hands and remove trees and brush from their rural properties to forestall a dreaded wetland designation that would render their lands unsuitable for development.

Mr. Hale, who stands to lose a third of his 40-hectare farm, says:

The government's definition of wetland has to do with what trees and plants grow there and once it is classified, the value is lost and the city says it won't pay compensation.

He goes on further to say:

If we lose 30 acres...it'll put us out of business, because we won't have enough land to continue the operation. Scraping the land seems to be the only way out....

Tony Walker, another landowner who has been notified that nearly 19 hectares of his 20-hectare plot is earmarked for redesignation, says that city and provincial governments have forced landowners into taking the unusual and harsh steps to protect their property. “For many, what is at stake is the fundamental issue of property rights”, he says. He goes on to say:

We have a choice of destroying the land or have it devalued. Some people are bulldozing the trees and plants because once they are not there, the land is no longer wetland. That's the stupidity of it.

Mr. Walker is the president of the Goulbourn Landowners Group that formed recently to fight the wetland designation. Mr. Walker says that no one is against protecting the environment but that if the city wants to take private property and rezone it as wetland in the name of public good, then it must buy it.

However, because the city is not expropriating the property, officials have made it clear that they are not required to offer compensation and will not. However Mr. Walker says that a land evaluator hired by the landowners' group has determined that wetland designation devalues a property by 85% because it becomes virtually impossible to develop. He says that at current market prices his 20-hectare plot is worth about $125,000 but that with the wetland designation the price would plummet to less than $20,000.

Mr. Walker says that the issue is about the larger principle: the unfettered ability of individuals in a free society to enjoy the fruits of their hard labour without government interference. Many of the people affected see the new policy as yet another example of disdain for rural lifestyle that people have been complaining about for years.

I will not go into any details but recently the provincial Government of Ontario made a proposal declaring vast amounts of southern Ontario as green land. In its proposal, at least as it was originally stated, the provincial government did not seem to want to offer any compensation. This will probably affect a large number of landowners in southern Ontario.

My colleague from the Bloc mentioned the example of the Mirabel Airport which still has about 11,000 hectares not being used by the federal government but is still not being distributed back to the original owners.

We also have the Pickering Airport in the Durham—Pickering area where the federal government assembled 20,000 hectares and this land is also being held and not being sent back to the landowners.

This is not the first time my constituents in Carleton—Mississippi Mills have suffered the effects of intrusive legislation and bad public policy but landowners are beginning to fight back. In my riding, rural property owners have organized themselves into very vocal and active lobby groups, a trend that is spreading across the province. The rural landowners are spearheading a massive grassroots movement in defence of their property rights as property owners. Their key message is that they are fed up with undue government interference and want their property rights respected and protected.

These business owners, farmers and landowners have seen their property values and livelihoods diminished by expropriation without just compensation, enforcement of urban property standards for rural lands and farms, and the imposition of buffer zones.

Landowners believe that governments have confused the right of private property with the public's privilege. They say that governments have overstepped their mandate and crossed the line from good government and into the private lives of citizens.

When I recently polled my constituents asking them the question, “Do you think it is justifiable for the government to deny Canadian property rights?”, a resounding 92% of respondents said, “No”, and I agree.

I also agree with landowners who are beginning to demand that property rights be entrenched in Canada's Constitution. When I asked my constituents, “Should the Constitution be amended to include property rights?”, 88% of respondents told me, “Yes, it should be”. It is an abysmal situation that what should be a fundamental right, the right to own, enjoy and dispose of private property, was deliberately left out of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is time to change this situation.

My colleague, the member for Yorkton—Melville, has long been a strong champion of property rights, as have all Conservatives. In fact, at our founding policy convention in March of this year, Conservatives agreed that the government should ensure that full, just and timely compensation be paid to all persons who are deprived of personal or private property or suffer a loss in value of that property as a result of any government initiative, policy, process, regulation or legislation. I applaud the member for Yorkton—Melville for this initiative and I am pleased to support it.

During the past election campaign the entrenchment of property rights in the Constitution was included as part of my platform. I believe strongly that landowners should be protected against arbitrary and unjustified intrusions by governments. If a government restriction or regulation is shown to be for the public good, then the landowners should be fairly and appropriately compensated for their loss. It is time for this Parliament to take steps to enshrine property rights.

Property Rights
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Sudbury
Ontario

Liberal

Diane Marleau Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Motion No. 227 introduced by the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville. The member has been making his points on property rights for at least 10 years now, first with Bill C-284, then Bill C-304, Bill C-313 and currently with Bill C-235. He also tabled motions, including the current one, which was debated on April 21.

During the first hour of debate he stated that his motion was based on a general principle, a principle that he would like Parliament to approve so that eventually property rights would be entrenched in a bill of rights and ultimately that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms be amended accordingly.

During the first hour of debate on this motion, on April 21, my colleague, the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River, explained our government's position very well on the motion being debated today.

In our opinion, the scope of the motion is far too broad; it is unreasonable. And if its principle were incorporated in Canadian law, its application would be impossible under modern governance. Should it be passed and implemented, it could cause major repercussions.

I agree with my colleague.

Speaking on behalf of the government, the member for Scarborough—Rouge River explained that the scope of the motion was far too vague. He added that if it were adopted and put into practice through adoption in Canadian laws, the repercussions based on the current wording would be staggering and that if it were taken to its logical conclusion, it would make much of our current governance unworkable.

I will not repeat the sound arguments made by my colleague. He certainly made a very strong case on the reasons why we oppose the motion. I will instead spend time on what could be the ultimate goal of the member for Yorkton—Melville, that is, amending the Canadian Bill of Rights to increase the protection of property rights in Canada.

The Canadian Bill of Rights is part of Canada's longstanding transition to human rights. The Bill of Rights has included provisions protecting property rights since it has been in force. Section 1 of the Bill of Rights recognizes the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law.

Property rights are also protected at the federal level by statute in common law. Federal statutes that regulate the disposition of property have been designed to ensure that people are treated fairly; that is, these laws provide for fair procedures and for fair compensation where property rights are affected.

Property rights are also protected at the provincial level. For example, the Alberta individual rights protection act protects the ownership of property by a due process clause. The Quebec charter of human rights and freedoms provides some protection to the peaceful enjoyment and free disposition of one's property.

The common law also protects property rights. For example, judges frequently apply the presumption that compensation is required where someone is deprived of their property.

It is also important to note that under the Canadian Constitution, property law is primarily the responsibility of the provincial governments. In fact, section 92(13) of the Constitution Act states that the provincial governments have exclusive jurisdiction over civil law and property law, notwithstanding matters under federal jurisdiction according to section 91.

This provision does not mean that the federal government is unable to legislate property law. However, its jurisdiction in this area is clearly limited. Should it reach beyond its jurisdiction, this could raise constitutional issues.

Proposals to include greater protection for private property in the Charter have been rejected many times by provincial governments, since, in their eyes, it would be an intrusion upon their constitutional powers.

Canada already protects property rights in a number of ways. On the whole, the average Canadian enjoys a very high level of protection for property rights under statutes and the common law, including the Canadian Bill of Rights. This is generally true at the provincial level as well. This protection reflects the value that we as Canadians place on property rights.

The right to own things, a home, a car or other possessions, is basic to our way of life. The right to use or dispose of property is also very fundamental to our way of life, but we recognize that these are not unlimited rights. These rights we value very highly in our country. These property rights are ingrained in our legal system. They are ingrained in statutes at the federal level. They are ingrained in statutes at the provincial level. They are ingrained in human rights legislation at the federal level and within the common law.

In fact, a basic premise of our legal system is the right to own and dispose of property. Our laws, whether legislated or judge made, are full of examples of rules concerning the ownership and use of property.

For example, the laws concerning real property, consumer protection or security interests contain many rules protecting both purchasers and vendors. Thus, when I consider the broad range of legislation and judicial precedents that protect property rights, it is not clear to me that the solution offered by the hon. member provides any further protection.

Taking that into account, it is important to reflect on what the proposed motion would actually do if its principle were incorporated into law. It singles out property rights from all the other rights in the Canadian Bill of Rights for very special protection. Again section 1 of the Canadian Bill of Rights recognizes the rights of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property.

Out of all those very fundamental rights to Canadians, the hon. member tries to raise property rights up for special protection. It seems that all of those rights are very important. When one considers the right to life and liberty, certainly one would not raise the value of property higher than those very special and important rights.

I do not see why, under the circumstances, we should support the motion of the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville. If it were carried through, it would establish a hierarchy within the rights that are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which would not be desirable. Every one of these rights should have equal importance. They are all very important, and I believe it would be inappropriate to try to favour one above the rest.

As I mentioned earlier, the right to own and dispose of property is not an unlimited right. It is limited by laws that regulate the use of property in the public interest. For example, land use, planning and zoning laws may limit the type of building that can be placed on residential lots. They may limit the type of construction in certain types of business districts. Environmental laws regulate everything from the disposal of hazardous waste to the removal of trees. There are laws that regulate the ownership of transactions and shares in limited companies. Other laws regulate bankruptcy and the ownership of corporate interests by non-Canadians, and so on. All of these laws impose real limits on the ownership and use of property.

No one disputes that these are necessary limits in a free and democratic society. When that is realized, it is incumbent upon us to think carefully about the implications of amending the property rights protection in a general human rights document. I am concerned about that effect in general.

The United States has had considerable experience in property rights and we should learn from its experience. On the other hand, Canadian courts have demonstrated that they will go their own way in interpreting the provisions of human rights laws. The proposed motion, if it became a legal principle, would leave us with uncertainty about the meaning of property rights and the effect of the motion on a wide variety of laws that touch on property in one way or another.

Property Rights
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry but the member is out of time. The hon. member for Durham.

Property Rights
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Oda Clarington—Scugog—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Yorkton—Melville for being persistent in trying to ensure that Canadians have their property rights. I want to make sure that we have a law in Canada that will be consistently applied to all Canadians and is not variable depending on what province or territory one might live in.

I rise this evening to speak to Motion No. 227 regarding primarily compensation and not the fundamental issue of property rights. I know that we will have another opportunity to debate that question.

I want to thank my fellow caucus members for the debate on this issue. In particular, I thank Mr. Garth Turner for his paper which provided me with many insightful and informed thoughts.

In my riding of Durham most of the residents are property and home owners. Many have lived on their properties for over 50 years, on farms that have been inherited generation after generation and which continue to be their daily lifeblood.

Others have come to Durham to enjoy the less urban lifestyle of a rural community. Even those who have moved into new homes built in new developments throughout the riding are brought to Durham because of the quality of life that my riding offers. Durham is growing and most have come to the area not only to enjoy the strong sense of community, but to live among the outdoor pleasures of rolling hills and wooded lands, and creeks, ponds and lakes.

Yet few of these property owners actually understand that in Canada they do not have the legal right to own the very assets that they treasure, work to maintain and improve with pride. These properties are their largest investments.

As Canadians, never before has such a massive share of our personal net worth been in property ownership, or the financial and retirement plans of so many been inextricably linked with the value of their homes and property.

Canadians today face an array of legislation that infringes on the right to own or use their properties. Landowners many times are restricted by the location of their property. Zoning laws dictate land use. Environmental protection laws can render land worthless overnight. Conservation authorities can prevent the construction of virtually anything on private property without any obligation to take over ownership of that land. Government can take land outright without any requirement to fairly compensate an owner.

Most of these limitations and restrictions are supported by most Canadians since they maintain aspects of the social good.

Governments pass laws which affect land use for environmental reasons, social benefit or to contain urban sprawl. However, many landowners are unaware of the impact new legislation has on their properties.

An ideal example is Ontario's move to freeze development in 1.8 million acres of rural land around the golden horseshoe in southern Ontario. In Durham we have seen how the actions to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine and greenbelt legislation have affected the rights and property usage of so many.

Residents in my riding support protecting the rural areas of Ontario. We are not reckless when it comes to the environment. In fact, I would maintain that they are the very residents for whom the environment and their rural community lifestyle is an essential part of why they have chosen to move to Durham and to remain there.

We recognize that we live in communities. Each of us is part of a larger society and we are willing to give to make our communities better for all. Because of this, we give governments the power to legislate for the good of all Canadians. However, we should recognize that the lives of some will be impacted and recognize that reasonable action must be taken when that impact significantly imperils the foundation of property ownership and personal land use.

In Ontario when the provincial greenbelt legislation was adopted, future land use was frozen, with only the barest of public consultation and in a process that lasted just 45 days. Without either consultation or compensation, my property owners saw their land devalued and reduced in commercial value. Farmers saw their property investments reduced by up to 90%.

I have heard from farmers in my area of Durham on this matter. As I have said, these are farmers who have been farming some of the best agricultural land in southeastern Ontario. They are farm families whose forefathers came to Durham in the latter part of the 1800s and who have worked the land from one generation to the next, despite the hardships and challenges faced by the agricultural sector, a sector which, due to the nature inherent in farming, provides few guarantees of prosperity and ongoing security. I have seen these families use much of their rewards to reinvest in the land and in their operations.

With one piece of provincial legislation, these families have seen their property values plunge. They have seen limitations on what they can do with their property. Consequently, the potential of the land, their future and that of their children are at risk.

Currently these families have no recourse. They have no security in knowing what the future or any future legislation may bring to further impact on their property values. Some have had their future put into jeopardy. They have seen the future financial security for themselves and that of the next generation cut drastically or destroyed.

Legislation such as the greenbelt legislation may, after due process and public consultation, be enacted in the public interest, but we must recognize the impact on families, their property and their future. We can ensure that governments move forward responsibly and move ahead for the greater good of all Canadians, but we must also recognize how governments' acts affect not only farmers, but the lives of all Canadians whose properties are affected. In these instances we should provide compensation for those Canadians and their families.

In conclusion, my colleagues have spoken of other properties and other categories of holdings and rights. I have focused on the property of land ownership and how particular types of legislation affect the future of those in the farming community in my riding.

I speak on behalf of all property owners in my riding and in Canada. Fair compensation is one way in which property ownership in Canada can work with the greater societal good. Fair compensation would recognize how Canadians take pride in their land and pride of ownership. It would recognize how property ownership for many is the major way in which Canadians look after their own future and retirement. This would find the balance needed to ensure that property ownership is respected and would allow for governments at all levels to act in the public interest.

This would enhance our sensibilities as a country working for the benefit of all without victimizing any one group, in this case Canadian property owners. I do recognize that in my area many have now joined a group and have become very vocal on respecting their property and their property values.

Property Rights
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to hear every speaker getting my riding name right since we returned. They must have spent the summer practising.

I suspect that in her remarks earlier the parliamentary secretary was making a speech that must have been written with the intention of being used on my private member's Bill C-279 rather than on this motion because she made references to the Canadian Bill of Rights. I proposed a lot of that effect and unfortunately she only seemed to have a passing familiarity with the motion before the House today.

I want to talk a little about the overarching theme of property rights that is contained in both the motion before the House today and in the bill that I proposed.

Let me start by going back in history to December 7, 1941, which is the day on which the imperial Japanese navy launched a simultaneous attack on British and American forces in the Pacific. As a result of this, both Canadians and Americans found themselves at war with Japan and both countries at that time contained large populations of naturalized and second generation citizens of Japanese origin, most living on the Pacific coast and working largely as fishermen.

Given the fear of coastal attacks, the white majority in both countries responded with what one author has described as “near-identical racism to the perceived security threat posed by the Japanese minorities”.

As a result of this, in February 1942 these mostly patriotic Canadian and American citizens were rounded up and shipped to internment camps in the interior. In their absence, their properties, including their fishing vessels, were in many cases seized without their consent. Naturally, some of the internees sought legal remedies to the outrageous manner in which their rights had been violated. In Canada, which had no bill of rights at that time, their appeals were rejected by the courts and the policy banning these citizens from returning to the west coast remained in effect until 1949.

In the United States, the cases eventually made their way to the supreme court which ruled in 1944 that the wartime internment of American citizens without proof of anti-government activity or treasonable sentiment was a justifiable use of the state power. This ruling has made some people comment that in times of crisis the bill of rights cannot be relied upon to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority.

However what is forgotten and what is relevant to today's debate is that this same court also ruled, at a time when war was still raging with the Japanese empire and when that empire seemed years from defeat, that it was not permissible for the American government to take away their property and sell it compulsorily. In Canada, by contrast, seized property was sold for a fraction of its value without regard to the protests of former owners. To add insult to injury, deductions were made for sales costs and taxes.

In a comparison of the treatment of the Japanese on the other side of the border, historian Roger Daniels concluded that it was “the American constitution, with its tradition of judicial review, which was largely responsible” for the less uncivilized behaviour of the American authorities.

I have related this story because I believe there are a number of vital services that can be provided by a well written, well interpreted bill of rights or charter of rights and, in particular of course, in protecting people and their property rights. Here is a clear demonstration of how this works and how it could have worked in Canada. This is the kind of benefit we could see if property rights were protected in a bill of rights.

Of course there are other ways of going about dealing with protecting property rights. We could do it through the Charter of Rights and other levels of government could pass ordinary legislation.

This has been a critical part of my own political career. I wrote the property rights policy that was adopted by the old Reform Party in the 1990s. I was active in causing the new Conservative Party to adopt a version of this policy at its most recent policy convention in March. I was happy to assist the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville when he was drafting his motion several months ago. Actually, I withdrew an item of my own from the Order Paper back in April so that he could start the process of bringing this very important issue before the House, and thank goodness he has done so.

Finally, of course, I introduced a private member's bill of my own, Bill C-279, which seeks to entrench property rights in a meaningful form in Canadian law. I will just talk for a minute about Bill C-279 before returning to the motion at hand.

Bill C-279 seeks to add teeth to the property protection provisions of John Diefenbaker's legislated Canadian Bill of Rights which was enacted in 1960. The Canadian Bill of Rights is not a constitutional document, unlike the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and it only affects federal legislation, which means that it would not affect a number of the areas that were dealt with by my hon. colleague from Durham moments ago. However it does set up a pattern for the kind of behaviour we would like to see and it also deals with federal regulations that intrude on the lives of ordinary Canadians.

The Bill of Rights contains a property provision right now, but it does not prohibit any limitations on how governments may abridge property rights. Bill C-279 seeks to correct this by altering the word of the relevant section of the Bill of Rights to read as follows:

(a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment and use of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law, and, in the case of property, without full, just and timely compensation;

This is the whole point of the exercise. Neither I, nor the member for Yorkton—Melville, nor anybody else in the House who is speaking in favour of property rights, is trying to take away any power from the government. We are not attempting to say that governments cannot pass laws in favour of public safety, protection of the environment, zoning or taking over pieces of property for military use. We are not trying to invade on the government's right to create new bankruptcy laws which was the particularly unusual example cited by the parliamentary secretary.

We are trying to ensure that when these actions occur, for example, when the use of land is restricted because of the need to protect an endangered species because of unusual environmental situations, that the cost to the landowner of the change in use of that land is compensated in some way. There is no reason why the government cannot do this, except of course that there might be an additional cause.

This is the usual argument that tends to come up and the parliamentary secretary raised this objection earlier. Essentially, if we stop downloading the costs of new laws, and I will take environmental laws as an example, onto a specific group such as farmers, it will raise the cost of these worthwhile regulations and laws, and therefore we will have fewer of these laws and fewer of the benefits that go along with them.

There is a technical way in which perhaps that is partly correct, but the obvious thing that I want to point out is that the marginal cost in lost environmental protection would be very slight. This is true for the following three reasons. First, many environmental regulations passed right now are of limited benefit in protecting the environment. These would be the ones most readily set aside if the government could not afford the cost.

For example, there is a regulation in Ontario forbidding the production of sawdust and wood chips at sawmills, even though these chips are used to spread as ground cover by the National Capital Commission and elsewhere. Bureaucrat A who wants the regulation, if there were property rights protections and compensation for the taking of property, would have to justify the cost of that compensation to the Environment Department to bureaucrat B, who would then try to focus perhaps on using the available funds more wisely and not on measures that have no discernible benefit to the environment. This of course applies to every other area.

Second, the government would start to focus on lower cost solutions to the environmental problems that it is called upon to regulate. For example, if the government had to cover the cost of complying with its own regulations, I do not think it would approach the problem of keeping drinking water safe by creating the requirement for concrete retaining tanks for liquid manure which has been done here in Ontario under the nutrient management act. This is perhaps the highest cost possible way of dealing with the legitimate concern about keeping the water table clean and municipal water safe in the wake of the Walkerton tragedy. Because of the cost to download it, there is no need for the bureaucrats to worry about this sort of thing.

Finally, taking actions that impose costs without compensation is actually bad policy in achieving its goal. To take the example of environmental policy, there is what is known as the shoot, shovel and shut up phenomenon where someone recognizes that he or she has an endangered species on his or her property and seeks to shoot it, then shovel and hide the evidence in order to protect the property from having its usage restricted by laws.

This is what we see going on in Goulbourn where right now people are clearing their land in order to ensure they do not get wetland designation. Several years ago I saw my father's next door neighbour out in the country in rural Osgoode, south of Ottawa, do the very same thing to avoid having a wetland designation that might prevent him from severing his property.

There is in fact very little real cost to ensuring compensation. There is a great deal of additional benefit and justice, and as in the example I gave earlier of the Japanese Canadians in the 1940s, it is frequently those who are most disenfranchised and least able to speak for themselves who are the victims of a lack of property rights in the country. Therefore, I urge everybody to vote in favour of the motion before the House today.

Property Rights
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank everyone who has been participating in this debate, especially those who have agreed with the intent and principle behind my property rights motion.

I thought my opening remarks and the speeches made by the hon. members for Edmonton—Leduc, Nepean—Carleton, Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, and Durham clearly pointed out the need of persons to have the right to full and fair compensation when the federal government deprives them of their property.

While I appreciate the remarks made by my Liberal colleagues, especially the member for Scarborough—Rouge River, I wish to remind them that this is a motion, not a bill. It was meant to give direction to the House, not set words in stone.

If the Liberals want to see what words I do want to set in stone, I refer them to my private member's bill, Bill C-235, an act to amend an act for the recognition of protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and to amend the Constitution Act, 1867. I introduced that on October 20 last year.

The hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale said my property rights motion was “substantially over-broad” and “poorly conceived”. Well, it was not conceived by me. It was conceived through a most democratic process at the Conservative Party's policy convention held in Montreal this past March.

If the grassroots of our party proposes a policy, then far be it from me to substantially change their wording unilaterally. I did not introduce this motion for me. I did it for the members of our party and for all those Canadians who have had their property taken by this Liberal government without being fairly compensated. I emphasize that because that is what this is all about.

Surely the members opposite must be concerned about the trampling of fundamental property rights by their own government. I appeal to them to take a look at this motion. Let us send it to committee and get the legislation right.

I know for a fact that the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River is concerned for the future of one of the successful businesses in his riding. The only manufacturer of handguns in Canada is about to have its business threatened because of the government's new firearms marking regulations, which will add significant costs to the manufacturing process.

I would like to quote the Ottawa Citizen and tell members what its editorial board explained:

The legislation in question would require imported firearms to be marked with the date and country of importation—an exceedingly expensive proposition, since the marks would have to be laser-engraved on the gun frames, post-manufacture.

Meanwhile, there appears to be a significant disconnect between the intent of the legislation, preventing small arms from being illegally re-exported to war-torn regions, and the effect, pricing legitimate sport hunting out of reach of many Canadians....

By all means, then, apply the new marking system to military weaponry, which Canadian civilians are already prohibited from owning.

Why, though, should duck and rabbit hunters be forced to foot the bill for a marking system that is entirely superfluous: their weapons of choice are used neither for combat nor crime, their movements readily traceable via existing serial numbers, their ownership logged under one of the world's most stringent—if dysfunctional—gun registry systems?

This is just one of the most recent examples of the warped United Nations policy finding its way into Canadian law, pushed by bureaucrats using high questionable regulations under the authority delegated to the minister and therefore completely avoiding a real debate in this House or any other place.

Just last Thursday, the minister of public safety sent a letter to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, refusing to implement a Firearms Act amendment, passed by this Parliament in Bill C-10A, that would grandfather the law-abiding owners of their legally registered handguns. Now their only option is to dispose of their lawfully acquired and registered property.

This Liberal government mucked up and takes no responsibility for what it has done. I could go on and on, but I will not. During these two hours of debate the speakers have provided a long list of examples of where this government has violated the fundamental property rights of Canadians.

It is time to put a stop to this injustice. Voting in favour of this motion will send a message to this Liberal government that people are fed up and we are not going to take it anymore. If a Liberal government will not change and respect property rights, then it is time to elect a government that will.

I have heard all the arguments. The Bloc feels it is not inclusive enough. The Liberals say it is too broad and includes too much. I think we have struck a balance with this motion. We should send it to committee and decide how to implement it.

The Liberals argue that it would affect their governance. To that I say, yes, it would affect their governance and it should. They should have respect for property rights. Property rights are essential in a free and democratic society and a strong economy. Please support the motion, take a look at what it says and let us move forward with property rights.