Actually, we do not have property rights enshrined in our federal charter either. Pierre Trudeau made sure of that.
Expropriation is a requirement at times for any region under development. Countries with property rights such as the United States still have to take land at times. The enshrinement of property rights obligates governments to assure that full compensation is given to landowners in expropriation situations and that land cannot be taken in a frivolous manner.
When a province/country lacks property rights, governments may bring in repugnant legislation that attacks the rights of landowners just as the Stelmach government is proposing with Bill 19: The Land Assembly Project Area Act.
What this odious bill proposes is to give the government carte blanche power to slap a land development restriction on land that they may consider developing in the future.
Now we know from experience how quickly the Progressive Conservative government moves on development ideas. Why look how they are speeding along with that hospital in South Calgary or the perpetual negotiations on the ring-road.
Bill 19 proposes no timeline. The government can slap a landowner with a development restriction for a project that may not begin for decades if ever.
Now, try and imagine what happens to the value of your land if suddenly you find yourself with a development restriction on it. Nobody in their right mind would purchase such land. How useful is your land to you when the government has told you that you may not develop? Not very.
Of course, in their usual manner of dictatorship the Stelmach government put no protections in the bill for landowner rights, but they sure spelled out the penalties that they will hand out to a landowner who dares do some terrible act such as building a shed on their land.
A person who contravenes an enforcement order under
section 7 is guilty of an offence and liable,
(a) in the case of an individual, to a fine of not more than
$100 000 or to imprisonment for a period of not more than
2 years, or to both a fine and imprisonment, or
(b) in the case of a corporation, to a fine of not more than
$1 000 000.”
Landowners beware. You may be bankrupted or possibly even jailed for a couple years should you dare defy the Stelmach government and try to alter land that you thought you owned.
Look at the nifty outcome for the PC government if they get this one. Land can have an order placed on it a decade before development, the land massively depreciates over the decade due to the order and then when the government indeed does expropriate they can pay the landowner a tiny fraction of the original value of the land.
Only real property rights may protect us from such government incursions upon us. The PCs certainly would never consider supporting such an initiative. Left-leaning parties such as the Liberals and NDP have traditionally never supported property rights for individuals. Only the Wildrose Alliance Party has has a policy to entrench property rights in an Alberta Bill of Rights. I strongly suggest to anybody who wants to protect the rights of Albertans to take out a membership with the Wildrose Alliance and get to work to rid Alberta of this increasingly disconnected government.