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Whose Property?

Whose Property?: The Deepening Conflict between Private Property and Democracy in Canada

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Whose Property?
    Book Description:

    Vogt shows that many diverse and contentious subjects ? including aboriginal struggles, threats to the environment, and the distribution of power in the workplace ? turn on the question of how property rights should be defined and distributed.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8346-4
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
    Paul Vogt
  4. Introduction: Rethinking Property Rights
    (pp. 3-10)

    Property has been at the core of most social upheavals in human history, including those of the recent past. The many wars of this rather bloody century have been inspired for the most part by dreams of territorial conquest or by grievances over the seizure of territory. The major social revolutions of this century – the Russian of 1917 and the Chinese of 1949 – had as one of their primary goals the abolition of a particular form of property – private property. The recent undoing of the socialist experiments spawned by the Russian revolution involves above all the re-establishment...

  5. Part One: Property Rights in History

    • 1 The Evolution of Property Rights
      (pp. 13-34)

      Canada has an abundance of things that people need for survival and personal enjoyment. This natural abundance has attracted immigrants from all over the world, driven by the hope that they might own and cultivate at least a small part of this vast, relatively unpopulated country. This chapter examines how successive waves of immigrants laid claim to the lands they settled: how, for example, early hunting and fishing rights were established and allocated, and under what kinds of property rules and traditions individuals obtained the right to farm particular plots of land or to exploit mineral, forest, and water resources....

    • 2 State versus Private Property
      (pp. 35-64)

      One of the great property debates of the 1990s has centred on the issue of state versus private property. Though the quotation above from John Donahue emanates from the United States, it applies equally well to Canada and to many other Western industrialized nations. A concerted effort is being made to enlarge the private business sector at the expense of the government sector and to reduce government spending. Behind this endeavour there is an implicit assumption that, to repeat the words of Louis De Alessi, property rights matter, and different forms of property produce different types of behaviour and results....

  6. Part Two: Property Rights in Transition

    • 3 Family Law and Family Property
      (pp. 67-82)

      Historians pay a lot of attention to property battles that involve clashes between large armies fighting for control of substantial territory. The transformation of property rights in Canada is occurring without armies and, so far, without the redrawing of national boundaries.¹ Nevertheless, major changes are taking place, and subtle but profound alterations are being made to property boundaries. This chapter deals with changes in property rights at the most basic level of society – the family.

      In Canada, as in most other countries, significant property rights are exercised within the structure of the family. The ownership of homes and land...

    • 4 Aboriginal Property Rights
      (pp. 83-108)

      In 1990 a major confrontation between Mohawk and Quebec police at the Kanesatake Reserve outside Montreal brought to world-wide attention longstanding land disputes between Canada’s Aboriginals and its governments. The Oka crisis involved a dispute over the proposed expansion of a golf course on lands claimed by the Mohawk people. Though the dispute concerned a relatively small area, it brought to a head centuries-old grievances and served notice that if they are not handled satisfactorily in the near future even more violent protests are likely.

      The crisis demonstrated the wide gulf that exists between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals in Canada in...

    • 5 Citizen Property Rights
      (pp. 109-140)

      Previous chapters have noted several challenges to Canada’s existing property system. Private owners of resources are contesting government ownership, adult partners have radically changed the distribution of property within the family, and the property negotiations of Canada’s First Nations people with several levels of government are reshaping the economic and political landscape. The actions in these three areas alone constitute a fundamental adjustment to the arrangements and rules that have governed Canada’s property system.

      On still another front, many Canadians are challenging the ways in which resources are used by property owners. Critics have in mind two distinct, though related...

  7. Part Three: New Property

    • 6 New Property Rights in the Workplace
      (pp. 143-172)

      In April 1990, the Pennsylvania legislature, with a Republican-dominated Senate and a Democratic-dominated House, passed a law protecting local industry against some of the abuses that frequently accompany hostile take-overs from outside. One of the law’s provisions guaranteed severance pay for workers dislocated by a take-over and the continuance of existing labour contracts once a hostile takeover bid had begun. Another provision encouraged directors of corporations weighing take-over bids to consider not only the shareholders’ interests but also those of employees, customers, suppliers, and the company’s surrounding community – the ‘stakeholders,’ as they were called.

      This law evoked a storm...

    • 7 New Property in Jobs and Social Investments
      (pp. 173-196)

      The convictions expressed in this letter to a Canadian magazine take us back to chapter 3, where the term ‘new property’ first occurred. The American legal scholar Charles Reich coined the term some thirty years ago to describe the new kinds of ‘things’ on which people rely for their sustenance (Charles Reich 1965a, b). As Reich observed, people used to depend largely on physical things such as land and fixed assets associated with land to provide themselves with a decent standard of living. The owners of these things managed to protect their interest in them by having them legally designated...

  8. Conclusion: Restructuring Property Rights
    (pp. 197-208)

    This study has revealed vast differences among people with respect to the merits they assign to different forms of property. Considerable momentum has been created in Canada and in several other Western nations in recent years favouring private property and the shrinking of the state sector. At the same time, many Canadians are concerned about possible erosion of the social benefits they have chosen to purchase through the state. A majority clearly continue to see the state as a bulwark against the insecurities of the marketplace. They are puzzled and angered that the state itself wishes to abdicate that role....

  9. Notes
    (pp. 209-212)
  10. References
    (pp. 213-230)
  11. Name Index
    (pp. 231-236)
  12. Subject Index
    (pp. 237-242)