Just the Facts, Please

Written by Ian Cummings

Talk on land patent grants has filled many Ontario meeting halls -garnering publicity from Ottawa talk radio who have also thrust themselves onto the stage -and the enthusiasm flowing from them has meant a flood of applications for such grants and many new Landowner members.

It's been fun. I've attended a couple of them, even helped organize one meeting down here in Glengarry. However the downside of putting yourself and an issue into the spotlight is that facts matter. Facts have to back up what you say. Especially when citing the laws and court decisions of a province and nation.

Because these patent talks were so much fun, created so much enthusiasm, we in the Landowners left our brains at the meeting hall doors when statements were made from the front that these patent grants "superseded all legislation. These documents overrule orders in court, they overrule legislation."

We never asked the speakers for proof from a court of law stating that. Or what, other than wishful emotional thinking, was such a statement based on? Do the speakers, do we, really believe that patents legally supersede everything? Because we never asked for proof, the statements were repeated again and again and again. On Ottawa talk radio, in Eganville, Casslemen, Williamstown, the above statements at Landowner organized packed halls became the mantra.

And by not critically intervening and making the common sense point these documents, at best, were a minor tool in your tool box in fighting for property rights, the extreme rhetoric prevailed.

Now that we have asked for the supposed court documentation cited to support the rhetoric, there is silence. Well no, there is yelling and insults, but there are no documents provided. They're still looking, knowing that they are out there somewhere.

Where? South of the border, the evangelical fervour of certainty surrounding them has crashed in the legal system. Again and again. As they have here, with severe financial consequences to those involved. Plus the two court cases posted on the Landowner website as "proof" of patent grants winning in court have now been taken down. It happened after it was proven that one posted quoted sentence made by a judge had been cut in half, with the second part refuting all that it had claimed to mean.

Neither case posted had anything to do with anything about crown patent grants.

It can be the speakers' honest held opinions that patent grants should supersede all legislation, but they have publicly stated countless times that "there is court case after court case proving that." Oh? Where? There have been patent wins establishing property boundaries, such as along a beach head. But nothing provided to lay the precedent for, "Greenbelt farmers are going to get their land back, or compensated."

Landowners learned years ago that politicians at all levels of all parties never read the legislation that they vote on. Perhaps they don't have time, so they rely on talking points provided by bureaucrats -with an agenda. Our finest Landowner moments were tripping up the politician's dog and pony shows, proving the talking points were false, by quoting the actual legislation itself. Be it the Clean Water Act or Species at Risk Act.

We forgot that lesson and relied on, and -to my shame -also reported on, patent talking points as fact. One can disagree profoundly, as a politician or a journalist providing opinion, with a court decision. But one can't, in public comments, misrepresent what the written court decision stated. Laziness or deviousness, because you want what you misrepresent to be true at least in the court of public opinion, are not excuses.

We supposedly live in the information age. But the travelling snake oil salesmen and pied pipers are still with us.

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