Do I still see things the same way I did when I started helping pipeline landowners defend themselves against expropriation?

Reflections on a Quarter Century Promoting Property Rights

By Dave Core

“He who would get me into his power without my consent, would use me as he pleased, when he had got me there, and destroy me too when he had a fancy to it.” ~John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government 

I want to begin by saying I am pro development, support the need for pipelines and the oil and gas industry but I do not support the use of or threat of expropriation.

After many years of helping landowners work together to counter a government-sponsored entitlements called Expropriation (in US: Eminent Domain, Condemnation) and Right of Entry when dealing with pipeline and power corridor companies, I have decided to reflect and see if perhaps if I can view expropriation in a different light than when I first started thinking about it seriously 25 years ago.

For over a quarter century I have heard argument after argument about how this legislated theft is for the “greater good.” 

The reasoning being, I am forever told, is that these projects could not happen without expropriation law.  Because “one person” could hold them up.

Even as we have attempted to work with government regulators and pipeline companies as a pro development organization, it seems to me the entitlement of expropriation has continued to be nothing but the act of an aggressor to steal property. It is ultimately nothing less than a violent act.

CAEPLA has shown both government and the industry that there is another way to do business with landowners and that is through respect and negotiation of win/win business agreements.

What economists call Voluntary Exchange.

Reflecting on research, my experience, my interactions with provincial and federal governments, government regulators, bureaucrats, industry people, public corporations — and some of the worst actors, Crown Corporations — I realize I am even further entrenched in my very early view that even just the threat of expropriation is no different than the threat of the proverbial “pillage and plunder.”

I am sure many of you who have been reading my articles and columns over the years are shocked (!)

I have witnessed firsthand the consequences of expropriation.

In 2013 Right of Entry dictated by what was then still called the National Energy Board (NEB), was imposed on landowners in Manitoba.

Their land was then literally pillaged by a company building a replacement pipeline. It only stopped when CAEPLA and the landowners proved the NEB inspectors were turning a blind eye to the devastation.

This same Government sanctioned aggression and violence was expanded and used over and over again to this day with the federal government’s TransMountain Pipeline replacement project.


Because they could.

This was a case where the owner – a Crown Corporation – and the regulator – the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) – were both creatures of the same entity:  the federal government. 

Which is even worse than when a government regulator and private company are effectively in bed together.

Stay tuned for Part 2…

Dave Core is the founder of CAEPLA.  He grew up on a farm with pipelines.  That, and his early experience helping other pipeline landowners resist expropriation turned Dave into a student and promoter of property rights.  Dave has worked in politics, as a poultry farmer, and owned a trucking business.  Today he is CAEPLA's Director of Special Projects, and principal at Dave Core & Associates, a consulting firm focused on helping landowners of all kinds solve problems with government, regulators, and corporations. 

Pipeline Observer


Landowner-driven, CAEPLA advocates on behalf of farmers, ranchers, and other rural landowners to promote safety and environmental protection through respect for your property rights.