TORONTO – Supporters have gathered for a third consecutive day, demanding 85-year-old Ontario farmer Frank Meyers be able to keep farmland expropriated by the Canadian government.
The “Save Frank & Marjorie Meyers Farm” Facebook group was updated Tuesday by creator Lisa Gibson, who posted the farm’s address early in the morning in the hopes of attracting more support.
“Frank just made a phone call to Colonel Dave Lowthian of CFB Trenton,” wrote Gibson. “Frank requested his presence at the farm today with the proper documentation, proving the DND owns his property! Diane Finley, Minister of Public Works is next!”
Municipal lawyer Stephen D’Agostino said Monday the only way to overturn the expropriation would be for Finley to step in, but that he’s never seen an expropriation overturned once papers have been filed.
Meyers signed an agreement at the end of November to give up his land after the Canadian government expropriated more than 200 acres to expand the CFB Trenton military base.
But the elderly farmer called the government “bullies” and said he was persuaded to sign the agreement under duress. He claimed he hasn’t received the $1.6 million plus interest compensation he was promised.
“They took me into Toronto for a hearing–ended up signing the papers…I was so stressed out,” he told Global News reporter Christina Stevens on Monday.
READ MORE: Expropriation rights in Canada
Public Works would say only that the government reached an agreement with the Meyers family regarding compensation for their expropriated land “after lengthy negotiations” and referred other questions to the Department of National Defence (DND) on Monday.
A DND spokesperson told Global News the expropriation is complete and the government now owns the land, but details of the deal are confidential. DND said the demolition contractors began work Monday, but as of Tuesday afternoon, no buildings had been destroyed.
Meyers’ supporters, spearheaded by Gibson, held a protest Sunday, arrived to try to block the entrance to his barns Monday, and hung a large Canadian flag on the property at their makeshift post Tuesday morning.
Gibson posted on the group’s Facebook page she’d received “no response other than the official, generic ‘thank you for contacting us’ or ‘it’s not my department’” from government officials for the past months, but said she was hopeful that CFB Trenton’s base commander Col. Lowthian would respond.
“Frank is requesting that the base commander of CFB Trenton attend his farm…I’m certain he will have the proper paperwork to prove where his orders came from!”
DND contacted Global News Tuesday afternoon with a statement saying the Canadian government has approached the expropriation with “great sensitivity” and offered Meyers “full compensation” for the property.
“This expropriation is critically important to the country and to the local community. As part of the Government’s commitment to further modernize our military, we will be expanding and improving infrastructure at CFB Trenton to house the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). This project will inject millions of dollars into the local economy and bring hundreds of well-paying jobs to the community.”
Despite the fact the expropriation is on track to proceed, support for Meyers continues to pour in online from Canadians coast to coast: