OPINION: Property ownership should actually mean something

WoodlotOPINION: By Matt McEachran

“Extremely disappointed in Council’s decision to allow farmers to continue to do whatever they want with the land they own … they should be forced to get approval from our government first to ensure too many trees don’t get cut down at once.”

This mindless rant was found in the online edition of the Chatham Daily News, under an article about Chatham-Kent council’s decision to vote down a bylaw on tree cutting.  What astonished me though, was the brazen disregard for individual property rights this comment displayed.  Actually scratch that, the comment writer had no concept of property rights at all.

This is what we have come to folks, and it’s not pretty.  Canada is moving from a country founded on individual rights and freedoms to one of collect rights, where the community good comes first.

Sound like socialism?  It should, because it is.

Did you ever think you’d see a day in Canada when someone would be “extremely disappointed” to see that a landowner was allowed to do what they want (within existing laws, by the way) with their own property, that they paid for with their own money?  And pay property taxes on every year I might add.

Could you make a statement any more un-Canadian?

Seriously, is that not one of the major concepts on which freedom and Canadian law are founded?  And don’t get me wrong, we’re not talking about someone wanting to dump toxic waste here (which is already illegal) or start a landfill in their backyard, or even a men’s shelter; we would all be opposed to those things and have laws in place for them.  Does anyone think these activities come even close to being the same as cutting down a few trees?

And this nonsense about forcing landowners to get approval from our government first is ludicrous.  Clearly the author of that comment has NO idea about what life is like in a rural setting.  Can you imagine every time a farmer or landowner wanted to cut down a dead tree before it fell over and killed someone, or just wanted to cut a few trees for the woodstove, we all force him to get government approval?

But this kind of thinking is spreading.  And we are losing the battle.

One Chatham-Kent councillor described the new bylaw as putting “neighbour against neighbour.”  When did it become the norm for our neighbours to suddenly start telling us how to use our property?  Is this really what we want in Ontario?

People who have no idea about individual rights (or just don’t care about them) think only of the “community good” as long as it means their property is protected and you and I are paying for it.

And as the 9-8 vote in Chatham-Kent shows, that same type of thinking has spread to many people in our government too.  Individual rights won in Chatham, but just by a hair.

Very scary.

And don’t forget about Lambton County too.  Our very own tree bylaw is in the midst of being updated for the “community good.” Written by people with no concept of trees and life in “the country” it has already met with stiff opposition from those actually owning woodlots, yet it is also supported by many tree huggers, most of whom do not own any woodlot at all.

And the idea of you being able to have some say about your own property?  Completely obliterated.

Apparently you are supposed to buy a woodlot with your own money, pay the upkeep, insurance and taxes, but only use it as your neighbours in the “community” see fit.  Sound like good deal?  I didn’t think so.

Not only was it astonishing that so many people now feel they have a right to tell you what to do with your own backyard, but the hypocrisy of these environmental neighbours is so obvious it renders their arguments even more ridiculous.

Nearly everyone who has suddenly jumped on this bandwagon of saving trees on other people’s property lives in home that was built on land clear-cut for that purpose!  So what’s the argument, now that you have your land cleared, no one else should be able to?

Or is it because your neighbourhood clear-cut all the trees, the people that still own a few suddenly can’t cut firewood, or make a few trails though their forest to walk on?

That isn’t the way Canada works.  Well not yet anyway, but we are going to have to stand loud and proud for our individual rights or else watch them evaporate in front of our eyes like they are already doing.

If Lambton County and all these socialist loving, tree hugging, freedom hating, uneducated environmental whiners don’t want to see trees cut down, I can relate to that.  I am a big tree lover myself, and have been involved with conservation for years.  The difference is I don’t try and tell you what to do with your backyard.  I also don’t expect you to pay for what I want.

If collectivism and weak individual property rights were the base of good environmental stewardship, Russia and China would have the best environmental records in the world, instead of some of the worst.

Instead, let the county and everyone in favour of tree bylaws go buy their own forest and save the trees there.  Even better, go buy a farm and reforest it.  In other words, put your money where your mouth is.

Conservation forced on the backs of a few, and paid for by a small minority of the population is not environmental stewardship at all.

It’s time those stuffed suits at the county office learned that.

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  • Jim Moran, MA Ed.

    Well put, J.D. and fair warning to all of us. Personal rights – use them or lose them. Defend them.

  • Carol Graham

    Very scary indeed… that the vote was that close. I’m sure that the same people voting for this ‘Nosy Neighbour’ bylaw would not want anyone to tell them that they could not make landscape changes to their home property or possibly remove or add a tree.