Like any other industry, farming involves the production of negative externalities — costs not borne by the producer, but by others in society. According to the OLA, farmers should not be made to bear such implicit costs of doing business simply because they own the land. That sounds a lot more like a group of vested private interests than a group crusading for liberal rights and freedoms.
What’s more, rural landowners are by and large enormous beneficiaries of government aid — something the OLA never bothers to mention. Subsidies and quotas ensure that the price received by most farmers for their product is artificially high and that the market in which they operate is free from competitive pressure. Apparently the libertarian principles extolled by the Rural Revolutionaries don’t even extend to being pro-free market.
Furthermore, agricultural land in Ontario is taxed at a rate 75% less than that of the regular municipal tax rate. No joke. One would think that individuals who are clearly net beneficiaries of state intervention would have a slightly less hostile attitude towards the government.
In essence, the OLA and its members expect is to be treated exceptionally in every area of government policy that affects them regardless of the costs imposed on others. This goes well beyond merely being unprincipled: it is utter hypocrisy. I strongly urge Ontarians and Canadians to oppose the current bills proposed by Hillier and Reid and to recognize that merely purporting to be defenders of rights and freedoms means nothing when those rights and freedoms benefit the few and harm the many.
The bolding in the last paragraph is mine. The attitude expressed there is illustrated in this quote from an anonymous landowner circa about 2006:
We don't mind government interference sometimes. We just think they should interfere when we want them to and get out when we want them to.
Although credit where credit is due. New OLA Chief Deb Madill suggests here that the OLA has moved away from the kind of "direct action" tactics they used to employ, such as truck blockades of the 401 and threatening pols with pictures of dead animals. Progress of a sort, I suppose.