Firearms Owners Association
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August 3, 2012
Edward Hudson, DVM, MS
Dear Mr. Hudson:
Thank you for your letters dated June 15, 2012, and July 26, 2012, inquiring about the position of our Government on adding property rights to The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
I certainly agree with the need to ensure that property rights are protected by law. In 2007, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Honourable Don Morgan, Q.C., conducted a review of the protection of property rights in Saskatchewan. Following that review, it was concluded that it is not necessary to add property rights to The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code as there already are satisfactory legal protections of property rights.
The common law and provincial statutes of Saskatchewan protect the right of individuals to own property, and to be adequately compensated for their property in the event of expropriation. Those existing protections have the same legal function as the provision of s. 6 of the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which you mention in your letter.
In addition, since taking office, our Government has enacted The Trespass to Property Act, passed by the Legislature in 2009. That Act provides additional, detailed protections for property rights, similar to the general statements set out in s. 8 of the Quebec Charter.
It continues to be our Government's view that these legal protections adequately protect the rights of individuals to own and use property. As well, there is uncertainty about the scope of the proposed amendment. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code is a quasi-constitutional document that overrides ordinary statutes. Would the proposed amendment therefore take priority over expropriation powers granted by statutes dealing with public utilities and highways, for instance? Would it mean that expropriation is no longer available, even in an appropriate case? If so, that would be a significant change to the law which needs to be clearly evaluated.
Finally, The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code applies to disputes between private parties, not just disputes between a private property and the Government. Would the proposed amendment mean that property disputes between private parties are now to be decided under the Code, as administered by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission? Or would private property disputes continue to be decided solely by the courts? This is an important question, and also needs further clarification.
It is my understanding that the constituencies of Saskatoon Southeast and Saskatoon Nutana have submitted a resolution amending the current policy for consideration at this fall's Saskatchewan Party Convention. The resolution reads: "Be it resolved that a Saskatchewan Party Government when enacting further legislation shall consider its effect on an individual's right to own property and ensure that any limits on the right to own property are justifiable." While it remains to be seen whether the resolution is passed by convention delegates, I can assure you that our Government always gives utmost consideration to an individual's right to own property and follows the principles outlined in this resolution.
Thank you for sharing your views with me.