“I thought this was a free country, that we had liberties and freedoms like we used to have, but I was sadly mistaken,” said Craig Morrison to a reporter for the Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick.
The story of Morrison, a 91-year-old man who built his own house overlooking the Bay of Fundy, is replete with all the trappings of a modern bureaucratic nightmare. Here’s a man building his own house, to live out the rest of his life with his spouse who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and is stymied along the way by petty bureaucrats.
Writes Neil Reynolds in the Globe and Mail:
In the past two years, building inspectors have hauled Mr. Morrison into court six times, each appearance more harrowing than the last. A couple of weeks ago, the provincial agency that employs building inspectors demanded that the court forcibly remove Craig and Irene Morrison from their home, that the house be bulldozed, and that Mr. Morrison be found in contempt of court – meaning, almost certainly, imprisonment.
Mr. Morrison worked long hours into his 92nd year, fixing the inspectors’ long lists of defects. But for the court, he made his position clear: He would not vacate the house. If the court found him in contempt, he would go to jail.
The three-year struggle came to an end on November 1st, thankfully. A judge couldn’t bring himself to send Morrison to jail, and ordered the bureaucrats to come to an agreement with Morrison which would see him left in peace.
“All I wanted to do is build a house,” Morrison said, “and I was treated as if I was some kind of outlaw. I wouldn’t wish what happened to me on anybody.”
The story of Craig Morrison is eerily familiar. In July, the Institute for Liberal Studies hosted the 10th annual Liberty Summer Seminar on my parents’ property in Orono, Ontario. In August, my mother and father were issued a Summons to appear in court for running a “commercial conference centre” on land zoned Agricultural.
“What price liberty? $50,000″ read the Toronto Star‘s headline covering my mom and dad’s story. That is the maximum combined possible fine faced by my mother, Marta, and my father, Lech.
Our story is richly ironic. The Liberty Summer Seminar is an annual event now drawing about 75 attendees each year. Its mission and purpose is to celebrate and promote the Canadian tradition of individual liberty.
All we’ve ever wanted to do is to promote and preserve Canadian freedom. Turns out, you may need permission from bylaw and the health department to host such a celebration. Our next court date is set for November 26th. I’ll fill you in on what happens.
Neil Reynolds concludes his piece on Morrison in a way that applies just as easily to our own case:
This is a true Canadian story, a cautionary tale of the tremendous power of the state over the individual in an age of pervasive bureaucracy. It is, indeed, a profound parable of irretrievably lost independence and casually forgotten freedoms.