From pandemics to biosecurity, personal responsibility is the best way to protect human and economic health

By Annette Schinborn

“The tendency to expect others to keep us ‘safe’ has conditioned people to rely more on government than on taking personal responsibility.”

It would appear it’s human nature to always seek the path of least resistance. We enjoy modern conveniences and although they have assuredly made our lives easier, they can also dull us into not being vigilant and make us unwilling to take uncomfortable action.

This is apparent in many aspects of our society. We have grown accustomed to thinking that governments know what is best for us and will be there to bail us out should we fail. We look for government handouts and subsidies rather than relying on our own skills and ideas and building fallback plans.

We’ve become so comfortable relying on government that we don’t recognize that it’s government interference in business, in “creating jobs” and in so much else, that causes problems and creates the distortions that make it more difficult to succeed.

Relying instead on property rights can provide a solid foundation to focus on true signals like supply and demand. This provides a clearer picture of what consumers really want and builds the confidence upon which business can prosper.

Similarly, the tendency to expect others to keep us “safe” has conditioned people to rely more on government than on taking personal responsibility. As we have found over the past year and a half, what government gives it can also take away.

Many small businesses have either closed shop or are slowly limping along as government has crippled them by dictating what is best and issuing lockdowns rather than allowing for a free market where the people choose.

We have also seen dependence on big pharma, government and public health bureaucrats to keep us safe rather than each one of us taking personal responsibility for maintaining our own health. It is much more convenient to take a pill than to think about getting exercise, learning what a healthy diet consists of and making the effort. It is not fast, convenient or easy. Sitting in front of our TV or tablet watching Netflix, eating pizza, chips and ice cream is convenient and easy, but it does not lend itself to good health.

Whatever the merits of the science involved, expecting a shot of an experimental therapy to help restore freedoms that should never have been taken away in the first place, shows us how far we have fallen.

We are all living a delusion if we expect politicians and bureaucrats to be making life and death decisions for us rather than making our own plans to keep our families safe and building a better society.

By adopting this way of thinking and behaving, we are effectively giving away our property rights. Most people think of property rights in terms of land and homes, but they extend far beyond that. Property rights are human rights, the foundation for personal responsibility.

“Relying on a government regulator and the corporate management of pipeline companies to protect landowners’ soil and farming businesses did not work.”

The personal security and choice that empower landowners to protect their soil health by having biosecurity protocols and integrity dig agreements in place can also protect the individual and society through a declared pandemic.

It is clear that relying on a government regulator and the corporate management of pipeline companies to protect landowners’ soil and farming businesses did not work. Although the companies told you and your family to “trust us,” landowners continually faced harmful construction practices that damaged their soil health.

CAEPLA was born through landowners fighting for their property rights to be respected. One of the founding member families of this landowner movement, Peter and Jean Lewington, mortgaged their farm to seek retribution on the damage caused to their soil by pipeline construction. In Peter’s book, No Right-of-Way: How Democracy Came to the Oil Patch, he wrote, “Probably the most damning indictment of all was that my wife and I, with our puny resources, had funded more research to mitigate the impacts of pipelines on farming than the provincial and federal governments and the entire oil industry combined, in the history of pipelining.”

Our history is filled with people who took risks at great cost to their families and businesses to protect their property rights.

Because of the risks taken by landowners like the Lewingtons, it paved the way for other landowners like the O’Neils and Vances to start the Ontario Pipeline Landowners Association (OPLA). This paved the way for the development of CAEPLA — and for its founders to take the risks necessary to unite landowners and landowner associations across the country.

Many landowners have greatly benefited from these individuals taking uncomfortable action, personal responsibility and resisting the comforts and ease of convenience in order to bring about positive change.

Many landowners now have unprecedented easement agreements in hand that not only protected their soil during pipeline construction, but have established biosecurity protocols and integrity dig maintenance protocols that will protect them and their property into the future.

Recently, I received a phone call from a new pipeline landowner who had purchased land with a pipeline across it. The former owner had been able to hand over to him the detailed easement and integrity dig agreement that clearly outlined how future work would be handled on his property, how he would be notified before any work was done and the calculation of compensation.

This creates peace of mind for the novice pipeline landowner and for the experienced one with a lot of frustrations under their belt. It is also a great selling feature when selling your property with energy infrastructure. However, not all landowners can boast of this benefit.

Unfortunately, there are still pipeline companies proud to be bullies and mistreat the people who host their pipelines and energy infrastructure. They still come to a landowner’s door and say, “Trust us.”

CAEPLA has made huge gains for landowners since its inception. But landowners need to be aware that it is never in their best interest to coast on their accomplishments. They must push forward to continue to make improvements as well as resist encroachments that will erode those gains.

Convenience and apathy are the enemy of growth and a risk to our property rights.

It’s through property rights and taking personal responsibility that we are able to protect our soil health and our personal health, which yields far-reaching benefits in protecting our personal, social and economic health. 


Annette Schinborn is chief executive officer at CAEPLA, having served previously as COO and director of landowner relations. Before joining the team at CAEPLA, Annette worked with grassroots non-profits including the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Prairie Centre and the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association. She has worked closely with farmers, ranchers and other landowners on issues such as tax and agricultural policy, energy transport and property rights.

Published in PIPELINE OBSERVER Summer 2021

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.