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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 6, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 2O THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Tuesday, March 6, 1973 hope the Hutterites arerft going to head for the best land because if they do, there are going to be some terrible days ahead" --GORDON TAYLOR, Social Credit MLA, Drumheller By JOHN DODD The Canadian 1'rcss A 26-year-old bill that even the government admits was a violation of human rights was kicked out of the statute books of March 1. With tlie repeal of the Com- munal Properties Act, the black-cloUied members of the gentle, prosperous sect of Hut- terites are for the first tirnft since 1M7 treated in almost the same way as the ether 1.7 mil- lion residents of tho province. No longer do Hutterites have to ask for cabinet permission to.Jiuy land. No longer are Hul- terites and the smaller Doukhobor sect specifical- ly mentioned in the statutes of the province, the only religious sects to have such a distinction. But the bcardsd Hutterile men and the Huttciite women in tlieir long dressGS and ker- chiels so different ficm their neighbors in way of life as well as appearance still aren't treated exactly tile same as oth- er Albertans. They still face what Munici- pal Affairs Minister Dave Eus- soll calls "pockets of fear" in some rural areas. lii addition, although the Hut- terite name is out of the statute books, they are still merAioned in the terms of reference cf an advisory committee, establish- ed to act as a liaison batwesn the sect and tlw government. Discrimination The Communal Properties Act was repealed because it ap- pears to violate provisions of tho new Alberta Bill of Eights, which forbids discrimination because of religion. Some critics of the govern- ment have suggested, however, that the advisory committee which replaces fhe act might also violate the bill of rights be- cause it too is being establish- ed to deal with a particular reli- gious sect. The municipal affairs minis- ter describes such criticism as "nonsense." Mr. Eussell points out that the advisory committee has no ac- tual power to stop HuUoritc colonies from being established anywhere ami adds: "I don't think that basic rights arc bring abridged by the committee. The committee's functions are based on mutual trust one! respect." But the problems don't ap- pear to be over, either in rural Alberta or in the legislature. Gordon Taylor, now an op- position member after holding many cabinet positions in his 32 y e a rs in the legis'alurc, is r.ot satisfied with the new provi- sions. "1 hope the Hutlerites aren't going to head for the best land because if they do, there are going to be some terrible (Says said the MLA Drumheller constituency a concentration of Hutterites. Hutterite Bishop John Wurz said members of his sect still feel expansion of tls-ir colonies is being limited. "They haven't asked us not to buy any more colonies than we did lie said hi an inter- view. "Tltey just said it would be good not to upset the peo- ple around us." Bisliop Wurz said that if tlie Hutterites do not comply with government "expectations." re- strictive legislation might be returned. After the bishop's stelenier.ts wore published, the government suggested that Hutteriles re- frain from further public com- ment on the repeal of the Com- munal Properties Act to avoid confusing the issue. Bishop VVurz said the request was made "so .we won't arouse tlw public." Bob Dowling, min- ister without portfolio, said it was made because the issues are easily confused by mis- quotes ar.d statements taken out of context. The man who will bear tlw brunt of the controversy that Hutterites always arouse is Ar- nold W. Platt of Calgary, a ii3- senior executive with United Farmers of Alberta. He becomes chairman of the ad- visory committee designed to handle ccm plaints about Hut- terite settlements and work with Hutterite elders on the lo- cations for new colonies. Bishop Wurz is also a mem- ber of the seven-man commit- tee. Problems In relations be- tween the Hutterites and their neighbors started after the sect was unconditionally "from service in the militia" by a federal order-in-council in The order was revoked after the First World War but the pacifist Hulterites still claimed exemption from military ser- vice in His Second World War. This caused bitter feelings among the Canadian legion and many farmers who put pressure oa the Alberta government to enact the Land Sales Prohi- bition Atf. in 1042, later modi- fied into the Communal Prop- erties Act. Other complaints were that the Hutterites were buying up too much top quality farmland in somo districts, leaving little for the "one-family and that Hutterites bought in b u 1 k from the cities, thereby not helping the economy of thair A day on the town peaceful Hullerilcs enjoy a quiet visit to Lethbrldgs The Hutterites, in turn, com- plained tliat because of govern- ment restrictions they ware not allowed to live the way their be- -liofs dictated, the way they say is best designed for Item to bettor serve Ciod. The main problem for sev- eral decades, however, Ii a s been the colonies' need to ex- pand. The population of col- onies IKS traditionally doubled every 17 years. The Hu'terites now occupy acres of farmland in Al- berta or 1.2 per cent of the to- tal. Most of the colonies arc concentrated on the prime farmland of Southern A'berta, many of thorn in the same dis- tricts. Suggestion The advisory committee can not tell the Hutterites where to loczlo their colonies but can "suggest" that no new colony be situated within 15 miles of an existing colcny and that col-' onies generally be restricted to eight .lions acres. The suggestions stem from a report on communal property which said restrictions on tho expansion of Hutterite colonies can not be justified from the viewpoint that the colonies are economically or socially disad- vantageous to tlic province. It added, however: "Large landholdings should fit in a harmonious fashion into existing rural facilities. Their location should take into ac- count the optimal use of exist- ing rural service centres and no small landowners should find themselves seriously isolated. "If it is the government's pol- icy to promote the family farm concept' and to give priority to thoso developments, then some restrictions on all large land- hcldings may be in order." No restrictions on "corpora- tive-typo" farms have been passed the govern- ment says it is studying the titualion ;