Adding Property Rights to the Charter

If the government tells you that you can’t use your land the way you’ve always done---or that you can’t continue to use it unless you comply with some expensive new regulation---you should have the right to full, just and timely compensation for the costs that have been imposed on you. That’s the way it works if the government actually takes away the title to your land: every province has an Expropriation Act. But when the government leaves you with the title, but takes away the value of the property by placing restrictions on use or resale, it doesn’t have to pay you a dime, even if it has completely stripped away the value of your home or your farm, your campground or your small business.

How is that even possible? Well, until 2006, Canadians were protected by what was known as the “de facto expropriation” rule: a common-law rule that if the government deprived you of the use and enjoyment of your property, you could seek compensation, just as if the loss had been caused by a straightforward expropriation. But in 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that it was permissible for a city to use its zoning laws to strip away any use of a piece of land, without providing any compensation.

This was an unjust ruling, and it’s time for Parliament to re-enact the traditional rule of de facto expropriation at the federal level, just as parliaments have always done, when a traditional or common-law right has been unjustly swept away.

As prime minister, Andrew Scheer will do more than this. Property rights are most frequently abused by provincial and municipal governments, so a Scheer-led Conservative government will propose to entrench the right to full, just and timely compensation---the same compensation that every province has in its Expropriation Act---in the Charter of Rights.

Andrew Scheer will seek to have property rights entrenched in the Charter, in any province that is willing, by means of the “bilateral” Section 43 amending formula, which allows new rights to be entrenched in the Charter, one province at a time, in any province where identical resolutions are enacted by Parliament and by the relevant legislature.

This means that, on a bilateral, province-by-province basis, property rights can be given back to Canadians, via the Charter of Rights. A Scheer government would challenge every provincial government to grant its residents this fundamental right. As provinces sign on, the public in the remaining provinces would demand that their own legislatures follow this example.

Do you support Adding Property Rights to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?