Nov 30, 2011 by Lee Hart

Man, it is one cold-hearted government in Alberta


The story of a Pincher Creek, AB rancher getting fined $354
for helping a neighbor haul cattle to the auction, is another example of
wondering whether the world has any common sense left.

Assuming Barb Glen in her Western Producer report just
didn’t make the whole thing up, (but as often is said, truth is stranger than
fiction) the story goes that rancher Bill Homans was stopped in November by
Alberta Transportation and given the fine for using his pickup and stock
trailer to transport cattle to the auction. The fine was for “operating a
commercial vehicle in a prohibitive manner” and “unauthorized operation of a
vehicle with farm plates for commercial purposes.”

The neighbor had his truck and stock trailer with cattle on
the road right ahead of Homans. Driver’s licence, registration and manifest for
the driver and cattle all checked out. All the paperwork was good.

Homans said he wasn’t getting paid to haul these cattle. The
silly man helps his neighbors from time to time and they in turn help him. I
have heard of that happening a few times in rural Canada, it has something to
do with being a good neighbor. It seems to me, too, that Jesus was big on that
love and help thy neighbor stuff, but he was a carpenter not a rancher, so it
probably just applies to home handymen.

Regardless of the circumstance, Alberta traffic regulations
specify that farmers can legally transport animals owned by someone else to or
from a grazing lease, so long as they are not paid. But it makes no mention of
hauling another person’s cattle somewhere else. And here we have Homans out joy
riding with a trailer full of cattle on his way to an auctionmart.

An Alberta Transportation spokesperson says a number of
regulations may apply. “Even if no compensation is involved, it’s still deemed
to be a commercial operation hauling somebody else’s goods,” he says. “The
compensation here doesn’t have to be monetary. It can be, ‘I help you now,
you’ll help me later’.”

If that is really the logic behind these regulations it has
to be the stupidest piece of legislation I’ve ever heard of, and the world of
stupid rules is very competitive.

There is no indication in this story that Homans is one of
those notorious black market, under the table, midnight cattle haulers who
makes all kinds of unclaimed cash earnings by hauling cattle for people, which
takes the food out of the mouths of the children of commercial haulers.  But if that is the case, thank God this
evil has finally been stopped.

But, my take is it sounds like Homans is being fined for the
crime of a neighbor helping a neighbor. I had to read the story a couple times
just to be sure I hadn’t missed something. Apparently this isn’t a new
regulation. It has been illegal to help your neighbor in Alberta forever. It’s
a head shaker.

Not only is it a stupid law, but to compound the issue I
assume we have some sound-minded people enforcing it. I know they don’t make
the rules, but somewhere in this world you’d think that common sense would have
crept into this situation.

I broke the law the other day in Calgary and got a $50 fine.
I parked my truck on the street downtown but it wasn’t completely inside the
yellow parking lines. Even though there wasn’t another vehicle within 50 yards
of me before, during and after the time I was parked, I still got a ticket.
Might have been one of those situations too where the by-law officer could have
applied some common sense.

The one consolation I have is that when Bill Homans and I
are serving life sentences in Drumheller maximum security unit for our crimes
against society, I think he will make a pretty good cellmate. But if I help him
make his bed one morning, I sure don’t want him helping me back. I could be
charged with illegal commercial bed making. And I understand that means the
electric chair.

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in
Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]

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Lee Hart

Lee Hart


Lee Hart is a long-time farm writer, and honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with many observations on the agriculture industry, who never hesitates to admit he is wrong (should that ever happen.)


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