Madam Speaker, if the last speaker were to come to Alberta and Saskatchewan, there would be an opportunity for him to look at the great work being done there to combat greenhouse gases and all the other things that are happening within the industry. That would be helpful. Perhaps then the rhetoric would be a bit more logical.
My family fled oppression in the disputed area of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, in 1870 to come to America, a land healing after having just gone through a devastating civil war. Because of issues arising from one of the Oklahoma riots, two of the sons ventured north to Canada's Northwest Territories to farm in what was eventually to become Alberta. As members can imagine, the issue of property rights and freedom runs deep in my family.
Other pioneers in our central Alberta community arrived from the far reaches of the world. Many of these new neighbours were from war-torn communist countries and cherished the fact that once and for all they could breathe freely, knowing their hard work and commitment to their family and community would be respected and that their ownership of property would be honoured.
Each of us, all 338 members of Parliament, need to remember the dedication and sacrifice that those who came before us showed and endured. Sadly, there are still some situations where governments have extraordinary powers that are easily abused. This is why I am so honoured to speak to Bill C-222, an act to amend the Expropriation Act regarding the protection of private property. I want to congratulate the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke for bringing this important legislation forward. I know she is also a passionate advocate for the defence of property rights in Canada.
We play several roles as elected members. I cannot think of many functions that are more important than working to safeguard the property rights of our constituents. Property rights form one of the most important cornerstones of our society and our economy. There are some among us who like to equate the notion of rights with individual liberties or freedoms to do whatever we want. Property rights are not only paramount as part of our tradition, but are essentially the foundation for all other rights as well.
We often like to equate the notion of free speech with the ability to say whatever we want, which is true to an extent, but as we know there are limits to this axiom. The possibility of severe harm because of hateful views is but one example. This right to free speech does not apply when we are trespassing on someone else's property. There must remain a fundamental degree of respect for the owner of that property. We have seen situations like that in the past. In the same vein, the right to freely associate is not the right to associate anywhere we want to. We do not have the right to freely associate on private property. We can do so in a public space or a space we own. The bottom line is that there are generally no such individual rights or liberties beyond the property rights that a person may have.
This is why I say that property rights are so vital. It is certainly one reason why standing up for the property rights of our constituents is such an important part of our job.
In my riding of Red Deer—Mountain View, we know about the value of property and the importance of property rights. Many of my constituents are farmers or ranchers. They put food on the table for their own families, as well as for millions of families across Canada and around the globe. In many cases, they grew up on a farm, as did I. They know the value of a hard day’s work. They understand the importance of taking care of what they own, of living frugally and responsibly, or of saving hard-earned money to make a down payment on a house, a new farm building or to expand a herd or the size of their farming operation.
The same is true for our local business people. They work hard for years so that they can save enough money to expand their business, look for new clients, hire more workers to keep their business growing and hopefully have something left for their family in retirement.
As elected members, we must stand up for and proudly say that we will help protect the property and the property rights of our constituents. This is why the bill that we are addressing here today has such significance.
We have always heard that property rights are not protected under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is different from other countries, such as the U.S. where property rights are constitutionally protected. Under the Fifth Amendment of the American Constitution, no private property may be taken for public use without just compensation and without the due process of law.
In contrast, what we are seeing here in Canada is a disturbing trend towards what is referred to “regulatory”, “de facto” or “constructive” taking of private property. This happens when governments use their statutory powers to regulate or restrict the property rights of an owner without acquiring title to the land as being adversely affected. The landowner feels the impact of the regulations as if the land had been expropriated. Put another way, the government can strictly regulate land, limiting its value and what a landowner can do with it, without triggering procedures in the legislation.
A “de facto” or “regulatory” taking means that a property owner is normally not entitled to compensation. What is worse is that we see many examples in jurisdictions across Canada where the government has actually misled the owner and the public about the intended use of a property in order to circumvent the need to pay a landowner compensation, choosing to follow the regulatory taking route rather than following the rules under federal or provincial expropriation laws.
If a government changes the designation of a property to avoid compensation under expropriation statutes and then subsequently redefines the designation for future use, this avoiding of higher compensation is an abuse of power. Bill C-222 seeks to remedy this type of situation and remove uncertainty from the existing legislation as to whether owners must be compensated for certain types of takings.
The goal is to protect private property by ensuring that governments follow the rules of due process. Bill C-222 seeks to remove uncertainty from the existing legislation as to whether owners must be compensated for certain types of so-called regulatory takings.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, one of the most important functions that we perform as elected members of this place is to protect the property rights of our constituents. I know that I want to leave a legacy for future Canadians where property rights are protected. We have come too far as a free and caring nation. We have been the beacon of hope for immigrants from all over the globe. We must continue to ensure that property rights are treated honourably.
Bill C-222 would take us one step further in working to protect the property rights of our constituents by ensuring that the government follows the rules of due process when it comes to expropriating land. I therefore encourage all hon. members to support its speedy passage.