Some say I am Politically incorrect!
But this story from the National Post says that I am justified!
Peter Jaworski wasn’t born in the cradle of freedom, but his mother says she hid illegal, anti-Soviet pamphlets in his baby carriage, covertly passing them out to fellow dissidents on the streets of Wroclaw, Poland. When local police sent an order to his father to report to them for unspecified reasons, the family used a permit to travel to Germany and fled, eventually settling in Orono, Ont.
Since coming to Canada, Peter has celebrated freedom with more enthusiasm than most. He helped found the Institute for Liberal Studies, a libertarian advocacy group; he’s writing his PhD thesis about concepts of ownership rights; and every summer for the past 10 years he’s hosted the two-day Liberty Summer Seminar on his parents’ acreage. There, a few dozen libertarians — past attendees have included Conservative Cabinet minister Jason Kenney and Ontario Cabinet minister Randy Hillier — camp out on the idyllic grounds, hear a handful of pro-liberty speakers, tap their feet along with some freedom-minded musical acts, and enjoy Mother Jaworski’s cooking.
At least, they used to. This past July may have been the last, as the libertarians met their nemeses in the flesh: bureaucrats armed with a red tape roll full of regulations that may not only shut down the seminar for good, but threaten to hit the Jaworskis with as much as $50,000 in fines for using their property for reasons unapproved by government.
“I thought government would help me to do business, to be independent, not to be on welfare, but it’s the opposite. It’s like ‘you own this property? Now we own you,’” Marta Jaworski says. “Government is just like Big Brother. Without government we would [apparently] be all dead. They think we need them so much in every aspect of our lives.”
What’s happened since could be a case study for libertarian scholars on the pernicious effects of regulation on society, its power to threaten the well-being of individuals in the name of collective rights, to curtail enterprise, and to turn neighbour against neighbour as locals accuse each other of siccing state authority on each other in envy.
The Jaworskis aren’t sure why inspectors, after years of summer seminars, suddenly showed up on the property to itemize violations. There was a “complaint,” they were told, though they insist neighbours always seemed fine with the event, which drew 72 people this year, each paying $125 each ($75 for students). They recently turned their home into a bed and breakfast to make ends meet, marketing their pastoral property as a perfect spot for wedding planners. They suspect another hospitality business in the municipality of Clarington turned them in. They have no proof, but they have grown suspicious others are exploiting government to hurt them.
First came the health inspector who turned up unannounced, four days before the festivities. The family had no permit, she said. The kitchen was not up to code for preparing group meals. The water was unacceptable. The bathrooms insufficient. The event would have to be catered. Only bottled water was allowed. There must be hand sanitizer provided and portable handsinks. All dishes must be disposable, condiments “individually packaged.” “Pre-packaged non-hazardous foods” were allowed; anything perishable must be “consumed immediately.”
The Jaworskis complied. It wasn’t enough. After the seminar, when the speakers finished expounding on liberty and all non-hazardous foods were consumed, Peter’s parents each received a summons to appear in provincial court on September 28. They were charged with using their land “for a use other than permitted residential use; namely for a commercial conference centre.”
Nancy Mallette runs Bloom Field Garden Centre in Clarington. Her website advertises that her property “is legally zoned … to hold your wedding ceremony and tented reception” so, she says, planners know they won’t have their events suddenly cancelled by regulators, as sometimes happens with unlicensed establishments. After trying to erect a tent on her picturesque property for her son’s wedding, someone complained. She spent 15 months and more than $100,000 to get proper zoning, including digging a new well and building new bathrooms.
She fended off concerns that noise from her events might disturb cows, and whether her property had the “potential for the potential” to be archeologically significant. She had the full support of Clarington council, yet they could not save her from a bureaucratic process full of nothing but “grief.”
“I’ve been screaming it from the rooftops, ‘why me?’ We were singled out and at this point we still don’t why,” she says. She’s heard, too, that businesses have been reporting on each other to make trouble with regulators. Not her, she says. She thinks the region would prosper if everyone in the hospitality business were free to compete at their best.
The Jaworskis have seen trouble like this before. In Poland, Mr. Jaworski, then a dentist, would occasionally take payment in meat, and neighbours sometimes complained to authorities about the Jaworskis’ holding splendid pig roasts while others went without. Today, Marta Jaworski uses language that might seem extravagant to describe what she’s going through, talking of being “hunted” by government “bullies.” But then, there are fines looming that could put them out of business, or at least steep rezoning costs to face. She breaks into tears explaining how she couldn’t bake the special cake she had planned to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her son’s barbecue. For those who love liberty, even the most mundane tyrannies are intolerable.
Get used to it comrades it is here! Sieg Hiel!