Morgan and Jacobson v Attorney General for Prince Edward Island

AuthorMargaret McCallum
I F    couple from FloridaMelvi n and SylviaGri n were
aryacres seventysi xhect aresofla ndonPr inceEdwa rdIslandAsnon
residents the Grins needed Cabinet approval to acquire more than ve
acresofla ndormoret hanfeetofs horefront age The LandsProtectionAct
LPA which theGri nsv iolatedhadsur viveda Charter challenge int he
Islandcourt sin the s In two earlier cases, almost a century apart, the
Supreme Court of Canada had rejected landowners’ challenges to Island
legislation limiting the exte ntof i ndividualla nd holdingsI n the rst of
thesei nthe newlyestablished SupremeCourt upheldIsland legisla
tioncompellingresidentandnonresidentownersofmoretha nacresto
sell their estates to the government.
In MorganandJacobsonvAorneyGeneralforPrinceEdwardIslandthe
Supreme Court again upheld the right of the provincial legislature to rest rict
therightof nonresidentindividualstoholdIsla ndland This chapter tell s
the story of the Morgan case.
Histor ical Context
A   major component ofwhat ni neteenthcentury
Islandersreferredto asthelandquest ionAftertheTreatyofParis
when France transferred sovereignty over what became Prince Edward Island
lotsor townships ofabout ac reseach and allocated all butoneof
assumetherisks andbenetsofpopulatingtheirlotsw ithimmigrantsand
manychoseto rentlandstose lersratherthan grantingfr eeholdsForthe
next century, Islanders tried various means to persuade proprietors to con
vert leasehold grants to freeholds. Restrictions on the r ights of aliens to hold
land were part of the received law in the British North America n colonies,
but these did not apply to proprietors who remained in the United Kingdom,
tinga acrelimiton alienland holdingsTheca mpaignagainstt hepro
province, enacted legislation to expropriate large private land holdings. Al
thoughbytheproprietorwitht helargestholdingslivedont heIsland
those who opposed monopoly control of land often strengthened their a rgu
ments by invoking the image of absentee owners living o the labour of
Islanders .
That image continues to resonate with Islanders, and is invoked in con
temporary policy debates over how Islanders should protect their land base.
TheSpeechf romtheTh roneattheopen ingoftheLegislaturein forex
ample, referred to the “long, tempestuous and sometimes, passionate history
connected with our land a nd our people’s relationship to the land . . . the cit
izens ofPrince EdwardIsland individuallya ndthrough their Government
areprepare dto utilize the lessons ofhi storyand deal witht heproblems of
land use and land ownership in a resolute and vigorous fashion.” For Isla nd
politicians, one lesson of this h istory was that voters, who would resist restric
tions on what they considered to be their rights as la ndowners, would support
dierentrules fornonresidentsRichardAlanMorganand AlanMax Jacob
inwhentheyaemptedtopurchaset hirtysixacre sfourteenandahalf
hectares) of wooded land on an unpaved road in Prince County, about three
miles from Cedar Dunes Provi ncial Park. Sol Mednick, the registered owner,
had purchased the land t he previous year from Eleanor MacWilliams.
M   Marvi n Taylor, owned Canadian Estate Land Cor
poration, which marketed vacant rural land in Canada as r ecreational lots.

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