Property Rights: Human/public/community/Nature's rights, or Corporate/Bankers Rights?

5 posts / 0 new
Last post
Property Rights: Human/public/community/Nature's rights, or Corporate/Bankers Rights?


- Ben Powless' rabble blog on the investment deals between Peru and Canada & US

- Scott Sinclair's article on the Canada- Colombia FTA (CCFTA)

- CBC coverage of Munk Centre (Peter Munk/Barrick Gold) debate on aid/development with a Peruvian participant promoting 'property rights'/fair laws for Indigenous peoples.

- agitation of PC leadership candidate Hillier et al for Canadian farmer's 'property rights'.

my own confusion over use of the term:

Are property rights the rights of property or people?

When are property rights the rights of corporations and bankers and not residents?

What are the phrases/clauses and contexts in trade agreements and other regulations that undermine resident/public rights and give those rights to bankers and corporations?

On p.4 of Scott Sinclair's article, the CCFTA which Harper tried to pass (thankfully blocked by activists, for now) extended a definition of 'indirect expropriation' beyond actual transfer of real property to include any government 'measures' (laws, regulations, actions of any level of government) which restrict banker/corporate profits.  Therefore a banker or mining company could sue any Indigenous government or community that tried to limit it's corporate activities. 

Property Rights are not currently in Canada's constitution, as Helen Forsey and others have written earlier at rabble and elsewhere.  Hillier and his banker-backers are trying to push this into our Constitution, because it would give bankers and corporations more rights than residents.  Hillier is either stupid or paid off.

In any case, I need some clarification of the meanings of terms here.  The Peruvian speaker in the Munk debate did at one point clarify his intentions, stating that advocating for residents' 'property rights' maybe wasn't the best choice of words, that really what had to be addressed was the structure of laws which operated in favour of foreign companies, over Peruvian residents and their own sovereignty.   So this brings in the issue of context, and other laws, at the UN, and in Canada, with respect to rights, obligation to consult, and to obtain consent, as well issues of dispute resolution.

To bring this down to water level, some years ago we had regulations in place that prioritized domestic water uses over commercial and other uses when it came to giving Permits To Take Water in the province of Ontario.  Regulations in the last handful of years have eliminated that prioritization.  Decisions are now based on flimsy terms like 'balance' and 'risk of significant harm' - with 'significant' defined any way the corporations like.

So my question is, what else can we call our public/resident/nature's 'rights' to 'what is ours' without giving away the store to corporations and bankers ?





the Peruvian panelist was "Hernando de Soto, author of The Mystery of Capital and a leading advocate for the use of property rights to increase living standards in the developing world." (June 8- featuring clips from the June 1 event via

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

The previous thread on property rights in old babble (which I started I think three years ago) was entitled Harpoon's next big battle: Property Rights but I can't access it. There was a lot of information in that thread, and another previous one.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Here's an excerpt from the Tyee a few years ago:


Harper: Hard on Nature  




First of all, the constitution is the "prime directive" of government. It overrides all other federal, provincial and municipal laws, and is not something to be tinkered with lightly.

The Conservative plan would put property rights on the same legal footing as human rights. The result could be demands for compensation whenever an environmental law prohibits a property owner from doing something (like putting a toxic site in the middle of a community), or requires them to do something extra (like building subdivisions to a higher density to prevent urban sprawl).





In Canada, such a measure would undermine the ability of all levels of government to encourage smart growth of sustainable cities - a major challenge of the 21st century. Since property rights would be in the constitution and protection of the environment is not, it could also effectively trump any environmental law in the country.

Nor is this intervention even needed. Our common-law system of justice was primarily designed to protect private property, and it does a superb job of doing just that. What Canada needs, instead, is a constitutional guarantee of a clean environment.


that's a good reminder- that common law could be used more, with more beneficial outcomes for residents and the environment.

public trust principles also need to be upheld.

i came back to this thread just now also to clarify in the OP that the reason why the limits of 'significant harm' are defined by corporations now is that they're the ones who are churning out the studies.  another effect of cutbacks, spiralling down the barrel.