Editor’s Note: As in the 2010 municipal election, MorinvilleNews.com’s editorial policy is to open our editorial pages to one guest editorial from each candidate during the election. This open invitation is in the interest of educating our readers about their electoral choices. It is not contingent on whether or not the candidate advertises with our publication. – Stephen Dafoe
I am the PC candidate for the BMW constituency. My husband, sons and I are farmers and landowners in the Linaria district. In recent weeks there have been a number of people talking to me about property rights. I want to take this opportunity to respond to some of these questions and to make it very clear that Albertan’s property rights will not only be protected but in fact improved upon. It is unfortunate that due to irresponsible and incorrect statements made recently regarding land owners losing their property rights that I have seen fear and even rage in the people I meet while out door knocking. One would think that if any one of the 30 per cent of government MLAs who own farm land felt that they were losing there rights they would have been frightened and enraged too. They were not. The Progressive Conservative Party was the only provincial party in Alberta that had elected rural representation in the caucus when this legislation was passed. This legislation makes it MANDATORY for the province to consult with any landowner if they are directly affected by the need for land for a major project. The Government of Alberta is going to consult with landowners, involve people, and give Albertans a choice. So let us just pretend for a moment that your land or mine for that matter is needed for a major project. First you would be consulted on that project and your opinion and any other of your concerns would be heard. This process would be open to you for two years. If at the end of the two years the Province decided to go ahead with the project, you could carry on using the land as you presently do until such time it was needed for the project. You could also decide to negotiate its sale price to the province or request outside mediation if that was your preference. You also have access to the courts at any time during this process. In a perfect world we would be able to say that no one’s land would be touched. That would mean no schools, hospitals, roads, arenas or community halls or the electricity needed to get to them. Our population is growing faster than anywhere else in our country. We must plan for that growth while at the same time preserving the farmland. It is a delicate line that we must walk. Not only is our population growing but we are living and thriving for longer than ever. This means we need hospitals, roads, schools, power lines etc not for just us but for our children’s children; proper planning is imperative. Eight years from now only six of the worlds 196 countries will produce more food than they consume. We will be one of the six. The Premier announced the Property Rights Advocate to ensure you have a stronger voice and access to all options with respect to your land. This is a common sense issue, and we need to keep it as one. We need to look at this matter rationally and have honest discussions. If someone says you can have your land taken away from you without compensation, ask them who this has happened to. I’ve asked and nobody can give me even one example. Check out who is telling you these stories. One lawyer has claimed that the Alberta Land Stewardship Act gives the Government authority to amend freehold mineral rights and land titles – this is simply not, nor has it ever been, the case. Contrary to what one lawyer says, many experts in the matter have spoken favorably about the Alberta Land Stewardship Act. Arlene Kwasniak, an esteemed professor of law at the University of Calgary, stated “Alberta really needs this kind of legislation.” Eran Kaplinsky, a professor of law at the University of Alberta specializing in Property law, stated “there is no compelling reason to be alarmed by this piece of legislation”. Stan Church and Dan Smith, both of whom are lawyers in southern Alberta with extensive experience in rural and agricultural land practices, stated that the Alberta Land Stewardship Act and Bill 10 “put Alberta ahead of any other province or U.S. state when it comes to protecting landowners’ property rights”. As your PC candidate I want you to be fairly treated and properly compensated by oil companies, pipeline companies and power line companies. I want you to be treated with the respect you deserve by your government. I am no different than any one of you as a fellow landowner and farmer in that I don’t want to part with any of my land but if I have to, I also want to be treated with the dignity I deserve as an Albertan, a human being and a landowner in this wonderful Province I call home. I want to be properly consulted, compensated and have access to the courts and this governments’ legislation does just that. Anyone that tells you any different is simply not telling you the truth. We are so blessed to have the abundances we do in this province. The good management of our natural resources has given Albertans one of the best standards of living in the world. This did not happen by accident but by good governance. Like regular people, our government is not perfect but we are able to identify the issues and deal with them. Stay tuned, I will share my thoughts on another topic next week.
PC Candidate for Barrhead Morinville Westlock