Index Home About Blog
From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: OT: US citizens lose right to private property ownership
Date: 23 Jun 2005 12:51:15 -0700
Message-ID: <>

>>Corporate rights once again rules over personal rights in the US.
TC <<


You say "in the US" as though this was something restricted to here,
and somehow related to "corporations."  I'm going to re-post something
Socks wrote earlier in the year, as a Canadian:

From Socks:

|In Canada, this is known as "standard operating procedure."
|Example: Downtown Winnipeg. For several decades, the core
|of Winnipeg was what one might call blighted. This resulted
|from taxation levels based on property values set in the 70's,
|and adjusted to provide the city with the tax revenue they
|needed to pay for the programs they used to buy elections.
|Round about 1985 or so, they decided to "fix" this. They were
|going to put in a huge shiny shopping mall on the north side
|of Portage, right downtown. Glass and chrome and food courts,
|expensive boutiques, and all would, they expected, be well.
|First they needed the land. So they asked the local businesses
|on the north side of Portage to sell. This included such as
|a pool hall, a bowling alley, several cheap bars, a second
|run theatre, used book stores, and one-thing-and-another that
|fit in that scheme.
|The business looked at the cash offered and, unanimously,
|responded with derision. After they put the first one in jail
|the rest quite suddenly agreed to sell.
|Following were several years of construction. During this time
|the other businesses in the area started to go bankrupt. Why
|would anybody shop downtown when they had to dodge mud and
|construction, when several entire blocks were "dead" in that
|they were under construction, and traffic was snarled in
|the entire area. And the suburban malls, run by such folks
|as Sears and Walmart and Kmart, offered free parking, better
|service, lower crime rate neighbourhoods, free community
|shuttle busses to large apartment buildings, etc. etc.
|Eventually, after spending $100 million on the new mall,
|it was finished.
|During the first four years the mall was open, pilferage
|exceeded sales in every single month. Close to half the
|stores in the mall, and 2/3 of the stores in the area,
|went bankrupt. The city took to putting up children's artwork
|on the windows in an attempt to hide how many empty stores
|there were, and how rotten the core of the city was.
|By now, the entire city has settled to nearly the same level.
|Unemployement and welfare rates are high. Salaries and land
|values are low. And the core no longer stands out, though it
|has hardly changed from it's worst of roughly 1990. And the
|flagship store of the area, Eatons, has gone bankrupt across
|Canada. After pumping $100 million into this one mall,
|the result is that the entire area is far worse than it
|ever was before.
|Now, at the time, I was busy reading Rand for the first time,
|and living in downtown Winnipeg. And I started keeping a horror
|file. But I had to stop, because I had no room to store that
|much paper.

From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: OT: US citizens lose right to private property ownership
Date: 23 Jun 2005 14:36:45 -0700
Message-ID: <>

>>And what happened in Winnipeg was re-vitalization of a business area.
The situation in Connecticut is forced corporate expropriation of

Apples and oranges. <<

Not at all. In the US it's always CALLED "revitalization" of a business
area, too. But "vital" is a relative term in the US just as it is in
Canada. It all comes down to whether or not somebody thinks they can
make MORE money with the property than the people who presently live on
it. Call it what you like.


From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: OT: US citizens lose right to private property ownership
Date: 24 Jun 2005 12:01:01 -0700
Message-ID: <>

>>There are cases where a civic govt may expropriate private land for
civic improvements like roads, sewer, etc. But in NO case will a civic
govt expropriate private land for the benefit of a commercial
improvement. This does not happen in Canada. >>


Look, don't pretend to me that there's some monolithic and clear law
that applies to all of Canada which prevents all this. I know better.

First of all, the reason all this is a Federal Case in the US is that
our constitution actually HAS a clause in the Fifth Amendment
prohibiting government takings of private property without "just
compensation."  That applies to the entire country, and that is why
this latest supreme court decision was so important as an overriding

By contrast, the nearest thing Canada has to a constitution (Charter of
Rights) doesn't mention private property rights at all, so in Canada,
the corresponding private defense against eminent domain is merely
protected at the provincial level and in the common law. So therefore
not only is it impossible to say anything about "all of Canada" without
going through all of that law, but I think you're smoking something
really strong if you think that in every province there are clauses in
the laws protecting private homes from eminent domain seizure *except*
to build "roads" or some very well *defined* list of public works that
must exclude commercial ventures. But feel free to prove me wrong. Good
luck in your struggle though a mountain of provincial law.

There's no doubt that Canada, like everywhere else, can take (with
compensation) a private home for certain public uses--- a road being
the classic example. The reason I think you're going to have a hard
time at this, is it's not at all clear what "public use" constitutes,
and where one draws the line. Remember, even in the US, the properties
taken were not taken to be simply given to somebody else. That's still
illegal. The government continues to own them as public property, but
leases them out to a private corporation to run as commercial
businesses. As might be done by parts of numerous public facilities.
Can the Canadian government take your land and house to build a
railroad?  With train station?  With train station and associated
shops? An airport?  An airport complex with restaurants inside?  Who
runs those restaurants?  Now it starts to get complicated, does it not?
 If the government continues to own the land but leases out some
businesses run on it to private corporations, where do you draw the
line?  That was the problem in the US. And ironically, it was a US
problem only BECASE we have individual property rights at the national
law level, whereas (again) in Canada, you don't. So you'll have to face
all the same problems, but province by province.

And don't pretend you have already. If you're doing economic
redevelopment in inner cities, you're running up against homes. You'll
no more let Ms. McGrundy sit in her little cottage and garden
surrounded by skyscrapers just because she won't sell, any more than we
will. It's a nice fiction, and very cute. It's not reality. In the real
world, the planners always find a reason why an access road needs to go
RIGHT there. And there's no law that planned roads used to condemn
properties,  MUST then thereafter be built, in Canada any more than the


Index Home About Blog