Landowner Activities 2012
The saga of dairy producers Marilyn and David Robinson versus the OSPCA continues.
The OSPCA raids the Robinson dairy farm in December 2011. Subsequently the Robinsons are charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty, with a fine totalling $720,000 for each of them. The Chesterville area farmers with their lawyer, Kurtis Andrews, endure months of hearings in front of the Animal Care Review Board, only to lose their review. Once the matter proceeds to the courtroom, the Crown files an application to have Andrews removed as the Robinsons' lawyer; the application is denied. The whole matter is thrown out of court in December 2012, clearing the Robinsons of all charges. However, the Crown files an appeal shortly thereafter. Judge Brunet then grants a delay for the Crown for the appeal hearing, who claim they are not ready to proceed. Judge Brunet is quoted as saying how this case, "was more complex than what one might expect." By April19th of 2013 the Crown Attorney of SD&G serves written notice that they are officially dropping their appeal against the Robinsons. The Robinsons still have an ongoing libel suit against OSPCA Chief Inspector Connie Mallory, concerning misinformation about the OSPCA raid at the Robinson farm. The inaccuracies were contained in a letter Mallory wrote, which appeared online.
In April, Glengarry Landowner Director James Sangster passed away. We extend our sympathy to his wife Sylvia, and to their children Stephen, Susan and Joan.
In May the federal Conservative government plans to alter the fisheries protection laws. The restrictions contained in these laws cause numerous battles between landowners trying to clean ditches, and government officials who claim the ditches are fish habitat.
In June of this year, a court trial involving the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and Mark Barnfield ends, with charges against Barnfield being dismissed. Barnfield purchased a property upon which he attempted to open a paintball business. After the land purchase, the local conservation authority designated the area a significant wetland. Almost three years pass before Barnfield (who represents himself in court) proves that his property should not be designated a wetland as it is not host to black gum trees nor snapping turtles – the criteria stated by the CA for inclusion in the wetland category. Barnfield thanks the Niagara Landowners' Association for their support.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is imposing strict new standards to define wildlife habitats in need of protection. The changes are extra criteria to fill gaps in existing rules of wildlife protection, we are told. The new rules encompass a broader swath than anything seen previously in this province. To be protected are deer, butterflies, toads, salamanders, certain trees, sand dunes, bogs, flooded farm fields, gulls, turtles, mink.....the complete list is much longer. As well, many areas of land will now be designated as Significant Wildlife Habitat. The affected land includes: any wetland with 20 or more frogs or tadpoles, farm fields that flood in spring if 100 or more migrating geese or ducks use it as a stopover, a single snapping turtle nest, any stand of trees where 10 percent or more of the trees are white oak......the complete list is much longer. Once again, rural Ontario is being hampered and hammered by endless regulation and bureaucracy coming from Queen's Park.
In response to the stricter standards being imposed by the Ontario MNR, a Conservative MPP, Laurie Scott, puts forward an amendment to the Endangered Species Act. Scott's bill would make it mandatory for the MNR to consider economic and social factors as part of the Species at Risk legislation. Local Liberal MPP, Grant Crack, is quoted in the Glengarry News of July 18th, 2012, as saying "We don't particularly agree with that......We want to make sure that we have a balanced approach while we continue to maintain our commitment as a Liberal government. We have a commitment to the environment and to protect specific species so we don't lose them long term." The Landowners' Associations counter with the argument that when the government wants the right to declare private property as being under its control because of public interest, the private landowner must be paid full, fair, and timely compensation for the loss of use, enjoyment and value of the property."
In May of this year, Jessica Johnson, of Leeds County, has a visit from three employees from her local OSPCA, accompanied by two OPP officers. While Johnson is asleep on her sofa, not responding to her doorbell, one clever, enthusiastic OSPCA employee climbed through Johnson's bedroom window, then proceeded to unlock the door for the others. From this raid, the only medical issue cited was excess tartar on the teeth of one of her four dogs. The matter lands in front of the Animal Care Review Board (ACRB). No doubt cowed by the fact that Kurtis Andrews is representing Johnson, the OSPCA hires two lawyers. The ACRB hearings continue in September, when Ian Cumming, reporting on the hearing, learns that, according to the OSPCA Act, if there is feces or urine on the floor of your barn, your animals could be considered in distress. The OSPCA employee gets to make that decision. Beware you livestock owners! By the time November arrives, lawyer Kurtis Andrews advises people to simply go through the process (of the ACRB), because they have to by law, and then we'll appeal and go to a real court where rules are followed. In February of 2013, the Animal Care Review Board decides that it can legally rule on the Canadian Charter of Rights, ie. hear and consider whether Charter violations have occurred during the raid on Johnson's home. ACRB Chair Legault decides that Johnson's charter rights were not violated during the raid. Johnson's dog must have its teeth cleaned by the end of the month. The OSPCA was ordered to reimburse Johnson $207.47, the amount of the veterinarian's bill. The OSPCA lawyers declare that they will launch an appeal over the ACRB's jurisdiction to rule on charter issues.
In June, Bob Mackie, from the municipality of Niagara, loses his appeal on an earlier court decision wherein he was not permitted to operate an archery range on his property. Justice Vyse upholds the original court ruling, that Mackie's Crown Patent did not legally allow him to contravene the bylaw that ordered him to remove non-conforming structures on his land. Mackie has one year to pay the $15,000 fine imposed upon him.
In September, Glengarry LA Director, Shawn McRae resigns from the Raisin -South Nation Source Protection Committee, this area's regional implementation committee of the Clean Water Act of the provincial government. Shawn states that he failed in his goal to protect the interests of rural landowners who will be affected by this Act. McRae submitted a compensation model for land use restriction as part of work of the committee. The issue of compensation was denied. As well, McRae states that the Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Program does not provide an effective remedy to the issue of compensation. The final Source Protection Plan could still deny the property owner the right to make the best use of his land, thereby limiting his ability to create income. McRae states that, "There is much rhetoric that the process is a negotiation although I fail to see what leverage the property owner will have." Shawn then donates $1,000 to the Glengarry LA reflecting the compensation and mileage he received working with the source protection committee. We thank Shawn for his generous donation, and for his diligent efforts on behalf of landowners during his time on the committee.
In August, the Glengarry Landowners' Association hosts a public meeting in Alexandria, concerning the power of Crown Land Patents. On said subject, lawyer Kurtis Andrews, speaking at the meeting states, " Nowhere in the Constitution are private property rights guaranteed – which includes rights associated with Crown Patents." The provinces "are specifically granted powers to pass laws which affect property and associated rights." Another guest speaker, MPP Randy Hillier, founder of the Landowners' movement, is no longer a member of the OLA, seeing it as an impediment to his goal of obtaining property rights. " With the touting of the Crown Patents, legislators are off the hook as far as talking about and committing to property rights legislation," said Jamie MacMaster, Glengarry LA director.-2013-
Dalton McGuinty has disappeared into the ether. In late January Kathleen Wynne is victorious in the Ontario Liberal leadership race, now leading the minority government. Determined to gain rural votes, she names herself as Agriculture Minister. She's going to have her work cut out for her.
March shows us Wynne's vote-winning strategy in rural Ontario, when farmers, miners, loggers, and others learn that as of April 1st, they'll be hit with hefty new tire disposal fees. By April, those affected attempt to force a reduction in the fees.
In March, we learn that the counties of of Grey and Bruce, will no longer have OSPCA offices. According to OSPCA statements to the press, it was no longer affordable to staff and do investigations in the two counties.
April 22, 2013 marks the day the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has specifically recognized that claims against wind companies and against landowners who agree to host wind turbines are possible as soon as projects receive approval. The Court accepts that property values can lose 22 to 50 per cent in the vicinity of turbines.