Sunday Commentary: Things we should all agree on

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The return of Sunday Commentary – I’m bringing back this regular feature. Today the topic is common ground, or what should be common ground for all.

The subject came to mind after reading a New York Times article about a pipeline company’s attempts to use the power of eminent domain to take land for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. This pipeline would transport oil from the tar sands of Canada all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s a dirty proposition, in more ways than one. But the idea that a private company can use eminent domain to take property is incredibly dirty. Of course, recent federal court rulings support this twisted use of the power. But companies like TransCanada or US companies should never be allowed to use eminent domain to take land – for a for-profit venture.

I understand that easements are commonly granted to run basic utilities to homeowners – water, sewer, phone and cable lines for example. But this oil sands pipeline does not fall under this category. I don’t see how anyone could really agree that land can be seized in this way.

Eminent domain cases should always have a clear and strong element of public good or public use. Any court that rules a private developer or company can take land for a for-profit venture such as this has warped view of the law and the Constitution. And they have warped morals.

In allowing this sort of move, the courts are not ruling on any proper legal standing. These courts, including the US Supreme Court, are doing nothing more than the biding of corporations. And of course, the other victims in this particular case are the wildlife in the region of forest land mowed down to extract the oil from the tar sands.

Does anyone think it is a good thing that people can be FORCED to sell their land – at a price set by someone else – to a company? I hope not.

And of course, this leads me to the subject of compassion for animalsĀ  and protecting them from abuse and cruelty. We should all stand on common ground when it come to protecting innocent creatures from acts of cruelty. But this sadly is not the case. New legislation to shut down puppy mills or end greyhound racing or increase penalties for cruelty is regularly blocked.

Compassion should be something we should all agree on.