Every year, Peter Jaworski and the non-profit Institute for Liberal Studies organize a gathering, the Liberty Summer Seminar, to celebrate individual liberties. Attendees from across North America have flocked to the Jaworski family’s home in Orono, Ontario over the last ten years to hear live music, meet with old friends and listen to libertarian-themed lectures.
But after nine years without conflict, a complaint is now threatening the event, and Jaworski’s parents face a fine of up to $50,000.
Before the event this year, health department officers contacted the Jaworskis and told them that their kitchen and cleaning facilities were not up to code. The event had to be catered. At great expense, they catered this year’s seminar.
Two weeks after this year’s event, the Jaworskis were charged anyhow – with running a commercial conference center on land zoned agricultural. This despite the event being organized by a non-profit, and, well, basically resembling a large BBQ.
It has since been revealed that the complaint which launched this entire mess was made by a woman who lived a 24 minute drive away from the seminar – which rules out the traditional disputes over noise and traffic. Peter Jaworski tells FrumForum that his actual neighbors haven’t complained about either.
Instead, the complainant hosts weddings and wedding receptions – a field of business that the Jaworski family had recently announced they were going to enter. Jaworski tells FrumForum that the likely motive behind the complaint was that the businesswoman was trying to place barriers to competition.
The irony of the whole situation is not lost on the younger Jaworski. Not only is a celebration of freedom being nixed by overbearing bylaws, but Jaworski tells FrumForum that his family fled Communist Poland in 1984 to escape a government which refused to – among other things – guarantee the right to assemble peacefully.
But at least in Canada the Jaworskis will have a line of recourse. They recently filed a notice of constitutional question with the judge presiding over their case – challenging that the charge under the bylaw in question conflicted with the right to assemble peacefully, which is one of Canada’s ‘fundamental freedoms’ enshrined in the constitution.
The Canadian Constitution Foundation, the Canadian equivalent of the United States’ Institute for Justice, has this week decided to take up the case and defend the Jaworskis pro bono, which comes as a relief to the legions of supporters behind the Liberty Summer Seminar.
On February 25, 2011, the Jaworskis will attend a court hearing that will set a trial date. The entire ordeal has no doubt been a burden the Jaworskis have had to bear, but with any luck they will be spared a fine for essentially holding a large family BBQ on their sprawling property in rural Ontario.
For more information on this case, please visit www.willowpond.ca.
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