Willow Pond http://willowpond.ca Save the Liberty Summer Seminar Mon, 28 Feb 2011 20:03:11 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 Property rights press conference http://willowpond.ca/archives/651 http://willowpond.ca/archives/651#comments Fri, 25 Feb 2011 16:44:52 +0000 Peter http://willowpond.ca/?p=651 (UPDATE 1: video & coverage of press conference) (UPDATE 2: Sign the property rights petition) Below are the remarks that I delivered at the press conference yesterday at Queen’s Park. The press conference was for an effort, by M.P.P. Randy Hillier and M.P. Scott Reid, to amend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include property rights.

My family (minus my sister, who is in Amsterdam) was asked to join Randy and Scott on stage for the press conference. Our case helped motivate Randy and Scott to make this effort. In a pleasant surprise, our local M.P.P., John O’Toole, also joined us on stage, and introduced us to the legislature. John and I exchanged a few phone calls during our ordeal, and I was happy to get his words of encouragement and support throughout.

UPDATE: Here’s the video of the press conference (my remarks begin around 6:30 into the video):

My remarks:

I want to thank Randy and Scott for giving me an opportunity to tell the story of my mom and dad’s fight to gain the freedom to celebrate freedom.

For the past ten years, I have been organizing the annual Liberty Summer Seminar on my parents’ property in the municipality of Clarington.

The Liberty Summer Seminar is an event that brings young people together to discuss and celebrate Canada’s history and tradition of liberty. It is a two-day, outdoor event with seven speakers, a barbecue, and a concert featuring Toronto’s Lindy Vopnfjord. It has a summer camp feel, which is why some of us refer to it as “LibertyStock.”

This past year, after our ten-year anniversary, my mom and dad were charged with running a commercial conference centre on land zoned Agricultural. The event is a non-profit event, hosted by the Institute for Liberal Studies, a registered charity. My mom and dad faced a possible fine of up to $25,000 each, for letting me, their son, host an event that promotes Canada’s founding values of civil, political and economic freedoms — the values that motivated my parents to escape to Canada from Communist Poland in 1984.

The legal fees, and the frightening prospect of not only being fined $50,000, but the possibility of having to cancel the Liberty Summer Seminar after celebrating the ten-year anniversary, was devastating.

But we got lucky.

In December, the Canadian Constitution Foundation chose to represent us to defend our right to host this Seminar. Their lawyers argued that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects our right to host an event like this under Freedom of Peaceful Assembly.

The Municipality’s lawyers agreed with the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s arguments just a few weeks ago, dropping the charges against my mom and dad, and clearing the way for the 11th annual Liberty Summer Seminar (which is in the planning stages right now, and will be hosted over the July 23, 24 weekend).

Our municipality announced just a few weeks ago that they were going to drop the charges against my parents. Their lawyers agreed with the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s arguments. But my parents should never have been charged in the first place. For nine months, my family lived under a cloud of uncertainty about what we are and are not permitted to do on our own property.

Entrenching property rights protection in the Charter would have acted as a bulwark against an overzealous bylaw department. If we had entrenched property rights, my parents would likely have never had to deal with the expense, anxiety, and heart-ache associated with being fined for hosting an event on their own property to celebrate freedom.

We’ve since discovered that our story is not unusual or uncommon in Ontario. Property owners all across Ontario, especially farmers and homeowners in rural Ontario, are facing crippling fines and excessive regulations with no compensation for the lost use and enjoyment of their property.

Entrenched property rights will help ensure that you and I, ordinary Canadians, at least have some kind of a defense against large and more powerful governments.

That’s why we’re excited about this attempt to amend the Charter, and why we support the effort wholeheartedly.

Thank you.


Feb. 22:
Announcement: Constitutional First for Ontario: Scott Reid and Randy Hillier seek to amend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Toronto Sun: Protect property in Charter: Ont. politicians

Feb. 23:
The Ottawa Citizen: Politicians to call for property rights protection in the Charter
580 CFRA: Call for property rights to be included in Charter

Feb. 24:
National Post (Tasha Kheiriddin): Will property rights finally get Charter protection?
The Windsor Star: Vander Doelen: Who’s on our side?
Canada Free Press: Scott Reid and Randy Hillier seek to amend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Warren Kinsella: “Property rights” in the Constitution
The Volunteer: Property rights: Randy Hillier’s statement

Feb. 25:
National Post: Protection of property is a basic right
Stephen Taylor: Entrench property rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Five Feet of Fury: The Battle of Willow Pond: New campaign to add property rights in the Charter
Frontier Centre for Public Policy: Property rights in the Charter?

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Property in the Charter http://willowpond.ca/archives/649 http://willowpond.ca/archives/649#comments Fri, 25 Feb 2011 16:37:42 +0000 Peter http://willowpond.ca/?p=649 Our successful battle to be able to celebrate freedom in the municipality of Clarington has motivated two politicians to push for the inclusion of property rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

M.P.P. Randy Hillier and M.P. Scott Reid, both representing Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, released news that they plan to use the section 43 amendment formula to amend the Charter. A section 43 amendment formula only requires passage by an individual provincial legislature (in this case, Ontario), and approval from the federal parliament to include a guarantee of private property in Ontario.

Here’s the announcement that they posted about yesterday’s press conference (me, my mom and my dad shared the stage, and I was asked to make a few remarks. I’ll post my remarks, as well as video of the conference, in a subsequent post):

Scott Reid, MP (Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington) and Randy Hillier, MPP (Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington) have announced they will jointly present resolutions in the House of Commons and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to amend Canada’s Constitution, embedding property rights within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Unlike other jurisdictions, Canada’s constitution contains no provision guaranteeing security or safety of property. This leaves Canadian citizens with no constitutional protection from seizure of property or unjust treatment.

This would mark the second time that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is amended since its adoption. The amendment would add the right to property to the rights already embedded in the Charter, including the right to Life, Liberty, and security of the person.

Randy Hillier and Scott Reid will be at Queens Park on Thursday, February 24th to announce the amendment.


“I’ve long been an advocate for stronger property rights, both in Ontario, and in Canada. This is the first step towards real guarantees for property owners in Ontario.” – Randy Hillier, MPP

“With this constitutional amendment, we can not only grant property owners in Ontario a measure of security, but begin the process of offering that security to citizens of every province.” – Scott Reid, MP

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Brand new LSS theme song video! http://willowpond.ca/archives/645 http://willowpond.ca/archives/645#comments Thu, 17 Feb 2011 04:17:56 +0000 Peter http://willowpond.ca/?p=645 Pierre-Olivier Bastien-Dionne, who attended this year’s Seminar, put together this beautiful music video featuring the LSS theme song sung by Toronto-based rock star Lindy Vopnfjord.

It’s not just our theme song, it’s also our victory song. Take a look:

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Victory! http://willowpond.ca/archives/619 http://willowpond.ca/archives/619#comments Mon, 14 Feb 2011 18:49:40 +0000 Peter http://willowpond.ca/?p=619 (UPDATED with coverage below)

We won!

The Municipality of Clarington agrees with the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s argument that the Liberty Summer Seminar would be protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. More in a bit, but here’s the video summary from the Canadian Constitution Foundation:

And here’s the press release from the CCF announcing the victory:

Liberty Summer Seminar & Jaworski Family Win Freedom of Assembly

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) today announced that it has succeeded in getting charges dropped against Marta and Lech Jaworski for hosting the Liberty Summer Seminar on their rural property in the Municipality of Clarington.


The Liberty Summer Seminar (LSS) has been held annually outdoors at the Jaworskis’ home for 10 years. The seminar brings together university professors, think-tank executives, and liberty-minded activists to speak to an audience consisting primarily of students about political and economic freedom.

The Jaworskis, who fled Poland in 1984 while it was still a totalitarian regime, were astonished to find themselves charged in August, 2010 with an offence under Ontario’s Planning Act, merely for hosting the seminar on their 20-acre property. “We left Poland seeking freedom, but when we tried to help celebrate freedom in Canada, we found ourselves being treated like suspected criminals,” said Marta Jaworski, 57.

The Jaworskis retained a local lawyer to help them fight the charges but Clarington refused to budge.

Freedom of Peaceful Assembly

In December, 2010 the CCF took on the case. The CCF is a registered charitable organization that engages in public interest litigation in selected cases where it perceives government bodies to be breaching citizens’ constitutional rights.

The CCF filed court documents maintaining that the forbidding of the LSS would constitute a breach of the Jaworskis’ constitutional right to freedom of assembly under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The municipality informed the CCF last week that the charges against the Jaworskis would be withdrawn, in recognition of the fact that “their use of the property was purely for the purpose of a peaceful assembly and expressive activity”.

CCF Litigation Director Karen Selick said, “We are very satisfied with this result, and we’re particularly pleased that Clarington conceded the Jaworskis’ constitutional rights instead of putting them through the ordeal of a trial”.

News & blog coverage:

Feb. 14:
National Post Full Comment: Canadian Constitution Foundation saves the Liberty Summer Seminar
Toronto Sun: Seminar cleared of ‘improper land use’
FrumForum (U.S.): Libertarian summit overcomes red tape
Frontier Centre for Public Policy: Victory for property rights and free expression in Ontario
Gerry Nicholls: A win for freedom
Marven Whidden: V Day means Victory Day to the Jaworski family
The Volunteer: Jaworski family wins court battle with help from the CCF
Dr. Roy: Victory!!!
Free Dominion: Liberty Summer Seminar & Jaworskis win Freedom of Assembly
Canada Free Press: Ontario Landowners Association applauds victory for land owners
Five Feet of Fury: Victory for liberty, private property in Canada! You CAN fight city hall.
Freedom is my Nationality: Jaworski family wins court battle with help from CCF
Moose and Squirrel: Victory for the Jaworskis and the Liberty Summer Seminar!
The Political Animal: Liberty Summer Seminar & Jaworski Family Win Freedom of Assembly
Prairie Tory: Congratulations to the Jaworski family

Feb. 15:
Clarington This Week: Clarington drops charges against Orono couple
Ontario Landowners Association: OLA today praised the Jaworski family for winning a key victory for the rights of land owners
Small Dead Animals: Jaworski victory
Toronto Star: Hosts of liberty fest freed from charges
Libertas Post: Victory for the Liberty Summer Seminar!
Reason Hit & Run: Canadian City Reluctantly Agrees That It’s Permissible To Celebrate Your Freedom on Your Own Property Without First Getting Government Approval
The Agitator: Canadian City Reluctantly Agrees That It’s Permissible To Celebrate Your Freedom on Your Own Property Without First Getting Government Approval
Institute for Justice: Free Assembly Victory in the Great White North
The Federalist Society: Important Decision on Right to Peacefully Assemble in Canada
The Blog of Walker: A Victory for the Liberty Summer Seminar
SUN: Landowners gear up to protect their rights

Feb. 16:
CTV: Couple will not be charged for holding freedom festival (it disappeared… here’s the Google cache)
Dave Rutherford show (radio): Interview with Peter Jaworski & Chris Schafer by Rob Breakenridge
Wendy McElroy: Good news! Congratulations to the Jaworskis!
the Commons: Victory for the Liberty Summer Seminar
Maclean’s: Good News, Bad News (under “common sense”)

Feb. 18:
Health Freedom Network News: Liberty Summer Seminar and Jaworskis win Freedom of Assembly

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Top 5 property violations http://willowpond.ca/archives/595 http://willowpond.ca/archives/595#comments Thu, 30 Dec 2010 20:12:22 +0000 Peter http://willowpond.ca/?p=595 The Ontario Landowner’s Association has released their list of the “Top five most outrageous examples of government infringement of property rights for 2010,” and we’re the first ones mentioned.

Under the heading “Summer Seminar squashed,” the OLA writes:

Marta and Lech Jaworski, who immigrated to this country from Poland, are in hot water with local government officials because they wanted to help their son Peter. They allowed Peter to host the Liberty Summer Seminar on their rural property near Orono, Ontario. The LSS is non-profit event that’s designed to help students learn and appreciate the concept of liberty. It’s a good thing. But on August 12, the Jaworskis were served with a summons. Local officials, acting on an anonymous complaint, claimed they had “allowed the use of land in an agricultural zone for a use other than a permitted residential use.” If convicted, the Jaworskis face a fine of up to $50,000. “Our family escaped Poland for fear of reprisals in 1984 after my Mom and Dad handed out pro-democracy and pro-freedom literature from under my baby carriage,” said Peter. “It’s ironic and upsetting that they may now be facing charges in Canada for allowing me to host an event in support of those very same principles.”

The Ontario Landowner’s Association has been helping us out since the very beginning. As soon as Jack MacLaren, then-president of the OLA, heard about the charges the Municipality of Clarington levelled against my mom and dad, he was immediately in touch with us, asking how he and the OLA, of which my mom and dad are proud members, can help. He came, along with several other OLA members, to our first court appearance.

Having the OLA’s support is vital if you’re squaring off against what seems like the local government Goliath. They’re support and help has been incredibly helpful.

Do read the rest of the Top Five most outrageous examples of government violations of property rights. There are so many other anecdotes like that that don’t get the kind of media attention that they should.

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In the news http://willowpond.ca/archives/549 http://willowpond.ca/archives/549#comments Wed, 29 Dec 2010 06:21:14 +0000 Peter http://willowpond.ca/?p=549 We’ve been covered by a wide variety of media in Canada and elsewhere. Here’s a constantly updated list of all of the major news stories about us and our troubles with the Municipality of Clarington:

Aug 17: Toronto Star: “What price liberty? Up to $50k”
(WP) (Star) (PDF)

Aug 18: National Post: “Bureaucratic bullies foil annual libertarian retreat”
(WP) (Post) (PDF)

Aug 18: Toronto Sun: “Bureaucracy stomps on liberty seminar”
(WP) (Sun) (PDF)

Aug 18: Orono Weekly Times: “Libertarian seminar leads to local by-law infraction”
(WP) (OWT) (PDF)

Aug 18: Reason Hit & Run: “Sorry, but our zoning regulations forbid you from celebrating your freedom”
(WP) (H&R) (PDF)

Aug 19: National Post: “Save the Liberty Summer Seminar”
(WP) (Post) (PDF)

Aug 20: Clarington This Week: “Pro-freedom group runs up against Clarington property rights rules”
(WP) (CTW) (PDF)

Aug 24: Toronto Sun: “Overzealous bylaw leaves sour taste”
(WP) (Sun) (PDF) (column by Ezra Levant)

Aug 27: Radio appearances: John Oakley & Roy Green (for Charles Adler)
(WP) (Adler)

Sept 2: Clarington This Week: “No compromises for Orono couple charged after liberty seminar”
(WP) (CTW) (PDF)

Sept 6: The World Tonight with Rob Breakenridge: “Bylaw zealots vs. Liberty Summer Seminar”
(WP) (AM770)

Sept 8: Orono Weekly Times: “Seminar fallout gives Clarington a bad rap”
(WP) (OWT) (PDF)

Sept 29: Clarington This Week: “Support grows for Clarington liberty symposium hosts”
(WP) (CTW) (PDF)

Oct 12: Frontier Centre: “Overzealous bureaucrats challenge property rights”
(WP) (Frontier)

Nov 17: Landowner magazine: “Crackdown on liberty seminar”
(WP) (PDF)

Dec 21: Frum Forum: “Red tape may kill libertarian summit”
(WP) (Frum) (PDF)

Dec 23: Clarington This Week: “Clarington Liberty Summit hosts defended by Canadian Constitution Foundation”
(WP) (CTW) (PDF)

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“Christmas comes early to the Jaworski family” http://willowpond.ca/archives/496 http://willowpond.ca/archives/496#comments Thu, 23 Dec 2010 19:49:26 +0000 Peter http://willowpond.ca/?p=496 Marven Whidden has written about our case before. After reading about the good news that the Canadian Constitution Foundation has agreed to represent our case before the Municipality of Clarington, he put together a blog post trumpeting our efforts.

Here’s an excerpt:

The municipality that laid these charges has a new-look council and needs to work with all parties involved to make sure these charges aren’t a legacy that this town will inherit forever.

You can read the rest here.

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Frum Forum on LSS http://willowpond.ca/archives/488 http://willowpond.ca/archives/488#comments Tue, 21 Dec 2010 19:39:42 +0000 Peter http://willowpond.ca/?p=488 Tim Mak, reporter with the online Frum Forum, covers the Liberty Summer Seminar today here.

Here’s an excerpt:

But at least in Canada the Jaworskis will have a line of recourse. They recently filed a notice of constitutional question with the judge presiding over their case – challenging that the charge under the bylaw in question conflicted with the right to assemble peacefully, which is one of Canada’s ‘fundamental freedoms’ enshrined in the constitution.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation, the Canadian equivalent of the United States’ Institute for Justice, has this week decided to take up the case and defend the Jaworskis pro bono, which comes as a relief to the legions of supporters behind the Liberty Summer Seminar.

On February 25, 2011, the Jaworskis will attend a court hearing that will set a trial date. The entire ordeal has no doubt been a burden the Jaworskis have had to bear, but with any luck they will be spared a fine for essentially holding a large family BBQ on their sprawling property in rural Ontario.

Read the rest.

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CCF takes up our case http://willowpond.ca/archives/485 http://willowpond.ca/archives/485#comments Thu, 16 Dec 2010 20:47:14 +0000 Peter http://willowpond.ca/?p=485 We have wonderful news to share with everyone today.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation has agreed to take up our case, and defend us against the Municipality of Clarington’s decision to charge my parents for allowing me to host the Liberty Summer Seminar on their property. Here is the press release that they sent out just a few minutes ago:

CCF defending Jaworskis: Notice of Constitutional Question filed in Liberty Summer Seminar Case

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) today announced that it is providing pro-bono legal counsel to Marta, Lech and Peter Jaworski, in their defence against charges in respect of an alleged violation of a zoning by-law of the municipality of Clarington in Ontario.

The CCF also today filed a Notice of Constitutional Question informing the Attorneys General of Canada and Ontario that it intends to argue that a provincial law and by-law that the municipality of Clarington interprets as prohibiting the holding of the annual Liberty Summer Seminar, is a violation of the freedom of peaceful assembly guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Liberty Summer Seminar, founded in 2001, is an annual two-day seminar and barbecue that celebrates and promotes Canadian freedoms–individual liberty, private property, and economic freedom.

CCF Executive Director and lawyer Chris Schafer said, “The Jaworskis escaped Poland in 1984 fearing persecution by the government for distributing pro-freedom literature. It’s ironic that they are now facing charges in Canada for allowing their son to host an event in support of freedom on their property”.

According to Marta Jaworski, “I will always let my son use our property for what he believes in, and for the freedom we came to Canada to find”.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation is a registered charity, independent and non-partisan, which defends constitutional freedoms through education and litigation.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation has an incredible track record of defending our freedoms against overzealous bureaucrats.

If you would like to make a donation to help my parents’ case, please send it to the Canadian Constitution Foundation and mark the “Jaworski – Freedom of Assembly” box.

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Nat Post writers talk LSS http://willowpond.ca/archives/483 http://willowpond.ca/archives/483#comments Sat, 11 Dec 2010 21:07:16 +0000 Peter http://willowpond.ca/?p=483 Kevin Libin, who wrote the cover-page story about the troubles we’ve run into with “bureaucratic bullies” over my annual Liberty Summer Seminar, mentions our case yesterday.

National Post writers were busy discussing the silliness of various decisions by bylaw enforcement officers to pursue charges when, really, they should have done nothing other than issue a warning. Kevin Libin was reminded of covering our case when he wrote:

I remember this was something that struck me as I was writing earlier this year about the run-in that an annual libertarian barbecue in Ontario was having with regulatory officers. It’s the “gotcha” approach that enforcement officials seem to increasingly have toward the public. In the case of the Jaworskis, the Clarington bylaw officer didn’t seem to consider having a chat with them and warning them that, if they didn’t change their operation, he might have to charge them with running an unlicensed “commercial conference centre” (because they asked visitors to chip in some money for the cost of the event); he just pounced and hit them with a $50,000 fine…

Libin thinks it was silly for bylaw to charge my parents, and concludes:

Rather than serving the public, helping us get along, cases like this suggest the government is increasingly become our nemesis, out to punish us for living our lives outside their perfect control. And the effect, as what happened with whoever reported Mark Tijssen, is that neighbours begin to tattle to officials, using it as weapon with which to hurt each other and revenge petty grievances, instead of working out problems amongst themselves. It’s a great way to unravel a well-functioning civil society.

Read the whole discussion between Kevin Libin, Barbara Kay, and Scott Stinson here.

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