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Canada The Almighty Buck Science

Canadian Couple Charged $5k For Finding 400-Year-Old Skeleton 601

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-found-it-you-bought-it dept.
First time accepted submitter Rebecka Schumann writes "Ontario couple Ken Campbell and Nicole Sauve said a recent fence installation led them to discover what is being labeled a historical find. Sauve, who said the duo originally believed the skeleton to be from bones of an animal, called the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate; Forensic Anthropologist Michael Spence confirmed the bones were that of an aboriginal woman who died at age 24 between the late 1500s to the early 1600s. In spite of reporting their find and Spence's evaluation, Suave and Campbell were told they were required to hire an archeologist to assess their property at their own expense under Ontario's Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act. The act, which requires evaluation for all properties found to house human remains, has the Canadian couple stuck with a big bill."
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Canadian Couple Charged $5k For Finding 400-Year-Old Skeleton

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 17, 2013 @10:27AM (#44029055)

    Don't do the dig if you can't cover the vig.

    • by garyisabusyguy (732330) on Monday June 17, 2013 @10:58AM (#44029405)

      My first construction job was in Texas in an area where the was a lot of limestone and caves. If the construction hit a cave, they would have to stop work and hire an archaeologist to investigate for Native American artifacts, and then excavate if they found any

      As a result, they would quietly fill any 'gaps' they found with concrete (sometimes truckloads) just to avoid finding any inconvenient remains

      All in all, the effect of the law ran exactly opposite to the intent of the law

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Wonko the Sane (25252) *

        All in all, the effect of the law ran exactly opposite to the intent of the law

        This is not a plausible claim.

        If it was just this one example, then maybe it would be, but when you're talking about decades of examples where laws of all types achieve the exact opposite of their stated goals, and when the people enacting and enforcing laws ignore the mountains of evidence of this and continue to do what has been provably shown to accomplish the exact opposite of their stated goals, then it's more rational to as

      • by Picass0 (147474) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:20AM (#44029677) Homepage Journal

        Nice. Your former employer filled undocumented, potentially important history (which belongs to us all) with cement. You worked for the same breed of dumbasses who tore down a Mayan temple to make road gravel.

        Is government a pain in the ass? Yes. Do the overreact? All the time. Why? Because of people doing stuff like what you just described.

        • by dywolf (2673597) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:29AM (#44029781)

          while the project is held up they arent making money. yet they still have to pay their workers. or they can lay them off. and they (the company) has to pay the cost of the research too.

          its a double jeapardy burden on the company, effectively punishing them for "doing the right thing"... and you think that's right and fair?

          bugger off.

          its like the morons around here who all of a sudden want to "make it a law for everyone to have tornado shelters....but they have to pay for it them themselves". if "the law" wants to require people to do something that costs money, then "the law" needs to pay for it. otherwise "the law" can go bugger itself.

          • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:46AM (#44030011)

            if "the law" wants to require people to do something that costs money, then "the law" needs to pay for it. otherwise "the law" can go bugger itself.

            Stupid building codes, driver's permits, garbage collection, always making ME pay for them.

            Money's nifty but it's not the only thing.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Sique (173459)
              You are not required to have a driver's permit, thus this example is not valid.

              You are not required to build something, thus this example is not valid.

              You are not required to create garbage, thus this example is not valid.

              Sorry, but if you do something that influences other people (and all three, driving, building and creating garbage do so massively), you are required to follow rules negotiated by the people (maY it be by elections, petitions and writing your member of congress, or via written or unwrit

              • by AJH16 (940784)

                Does the law allow you to simply abandon the project? I thought it simply didn't allow the project to continue unless you removed the historical artifacts from the land. You don't technically have to spend more, but it could cause the project to be a loss up to that point.

            • by dywolf (2673597) on Monday June 17, 2013 @01:35PM (#44031487)

              we're not talking about building codes
              were not talking about drivers permits
              we're not talking about garbage collection.

              we're talking about an archeological dig, and putting an undue burden on a family, such that the law is very likely to cause the next archeological find to end up ina trash bag and never be seen again. i brought up the example of mandated storm shelters...which cost >4k$ for the "cheap" ones...as another example of the "there ought to be a law" mentality. its easy to say. but paying for it isnt.

            • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Monday June 17, 2013 @05:49PM (#44034097)

              It's one thing when public safety is at stake. If the state wants stuff that's nice to have, it can bloody well pay for it.

            • by OldSoldier (168889) on Monday June 17, 2013 @06:09PM (#44034261)

              if "the law" wants to require people to do something that costs money, then "the law" needs to pay for it. otherwise "the law" can go bugger itself.

              Stupid building codes, driver's permits, garbage collection, always making ME pay for them.

              Usually codes like the one the OP cited only apply to new construction, retroactively requiring a tornado shelter on an existing building is hardly ever done in the US. However, stupid shit still is done... we remodeled our house and even though we didn't change the number of plumbing fixtures we had to bring our septic system up to current code. To make matters worse, the county did not certify the old drain field because "the soils were disturbed" ... no duh, there's a SEPTIC field there. So at great expense we had to completely install a new septic field.

          • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn&earthlink,net> on Monday June 17, 2013 @12:27PM (#44030599)

            I *slightly* disagree. It's entirely appropriate that construction companies be required to preserve historic artifacts. What's not appropriate is that *particular* construction companies be so required. That's, as mentioned, counter productive, and places the burden on those who are conscientious. It needs to be a general fee levied on ALL construction companies, with a partial rebate to those that find and appropriately report them. Doing it the other way creates and adverse incentive, as stated.

            So. Perhaps tornado shelters are a good idea. If so, at least a part of the construction cost should be remitted for installng one. And perhaps some sort of punishment ("You go the end of the line in case of emergency"?) should be implemented for lack of one.

            That said, I'm not sure it should be legal to sell or rent properties lacking a tornado shelter in areas where a tornado is likely. You may not be able to install it due to lack of finances, but this doesn't mean you should be able to transfer the problem to someone else. Perhaps sale should be allowed if the purchaser signed a clear statement in 14 point type saying (approximately) "I understand that the state believes living in this place is unsafe due to the lack of a tornado shelter.". Renting is, however, a separate problem. Landlords have a long history of totally ignoring the safety of their tennants, so I don't think they should be granted ANY slack.

            • by Solandri (704621) on Monday June 17, 2013 @04:50PM (#44033569)

              I *slightly* disagree. It's entirely appropriate that construction companies be required to preserve historic artifacts. What's not appropriate is that *particular* construction companies be so required. That's, as mentioned, counter productive, and places the burden on those who are conscientious.

              Costs should be borne by the beneficiaries. If it's the public which is going to benefit from an archeological find, then it's the public which should bear the cost, not the construction company. It is not just inappropriate, but also immoral and dysfunctional to require a non-beneficiary to bear the costs of a situation they did not create.

              Once you start making someone other than the beneficiary bear the cost, you get into all sorts of trouble. Whether it be bailouts for bankers who took too many risks, or people living perennially on welfare. The moment cost is decoupled from benefit, you can lose all sense of scale between cost and benefit. The beneficiaries don't bear the cost so it becomes a game of seeing how much they can get away with, and those bearing the cost start to get upset at taxation without representation and threaten to revolt.

              Having the beneficiary bear the cost also makes the cost-benefit analysis crystal clear. If each discovered archeological site costs $5 million to process, but only yields $1 million worth of cultural preservation, then clearly the processing method needs to be refined to lower its cost. If it's the public footing the bill, then the government agency paying for it has an incentive to streamline the processing and their costs. If the construction companies are footing the bill, then there's no incentive for the government agency to do any streamlining.

              That said, I'm not sure it should be legal to sell or rent properties lacking a tornado shelter in areas where a tornado is likely. You may not be able to install it due to lack of finances, but this doesn't mean you should be able to transfer the problem to someone else. Perhaps sale should be allowed if the purchaser signed a clear statement in 14 point type saying (approximately) "I understand that the state believes living in this place is unsafe due to the lack of a tornado shelter.".

              Despite the recent news, tornadoes and especially injuries and deaths from tornadoes are actually pretty rare. If tornadoes kill 75 people per year [noaa.gov] on average, and you require all ~50 million residences in the tornado-prone areas to build $5000 shelters, and the average home lasts 50 years, you're mandating a cost of ($5000 per home * 50 million homes / (50 years * 75 people/year) ) = $67 million per life saved.

              Given that the lifetime productivity of an average person is only $2-$3 million, a tornado shelter requirement would result in a net decrease in the standard of living. i.e. About 22-33 lifetimes' worth of productivity is being spent to save one life, instead of being used on other things which could save a lot more lives.

              Renting is, however, a separate problem. Landlords have a long history of totally ignoring the safety of their tennants, so I don't think they should be granted ANY slack.

              If you've actually been a landlord, you would also know that it's equally true that renters have a long history of totally ignoring the integrity and safety of the landlord's property. I've seen everything from tenants painting over a mold problem caused by a leak they didn't want to bother to fix or report, to cutting structural beams and "repairing" them in an unsound manner, to adding plumbing and electrical wiring which didn't comply with code without telling the landlord, to just plain leaving a mess when they leave which costs the landlord far more than the security deposit to dispose of in a way which complies with local environmental regulations.

              Yes there are bad

        • by YoungManKlaus (2773165) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:29AM (#44029797)
          no, the point is, if the government wants to get archeological artefacts it should probably pay for their recovery, not make the finder pay what seems to him only as retribution (kinda like: "I order you to help me mow the lawn and then also pay for the lawnmower and fuel")
        • by Imagix (695350) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:30AM (#44029803)

          Your former employer filled undocumented, potentially important history (which belongs to us all)

          In which case, why didn't we "all" pay for the dig instead of shafting the finder with the bill? And, reimburse the finder for the appropriation of land and/or time? (The gov't already said go ahead and build there, now they want to change their mind. With authority should come responsibility.)

        • by eth1 (94901) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:36AM (#44029887)

          Nice. Your former employer filled undocumented, potentially important history (which belongs to us all) with cement. You worked for the same breed of dumbasses who tore down a Mayan temple to make road gravel.

          Is government a pain in the ass? Yes. Do the overreact? All the time. Why? Because of people doing stuff like what you just described.

          And once news gets around of this incident, the same thing will start happening in Canada. Most people can't afford to pour thousands of dollars down a hole - they'll get absolutely no benefit from the expenditure. If people have a choice between doing the right thing and going bankrupt, or quietly covering/disposing of the evidence, what do you think most people will do? If the state is going to require that sort of expensive investigation, then they need to pay for it.

          • It's worse then that. Any grave artifacts are valuable. By reporting the find, not only do you have to pay, you lose income and the use of your land.

          • by camperdave (969942) on Monday June 17, 2013 @01:52PM (#44031693) Journal

            And once news gets around of this incident, the same thing will start happening in Canada.

            What makes you think it isn't already here? I've heard of things going the other way. If you don't grease the palm of the inspector, an arrowhead might fall out of his pocket, and "Oh, look! We must be on sacred ground. Looks like you'll have to stop digging until we get the permits re-examined and squared away."

        • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:48AM (#44030039)
          If it belongs to the public, then the public should pay for it.
        • No. The government should reimburse companies, developers for their lost time and money as required by the Constitution.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:54AM (#44030143)

          That's nonsense. There are countless examples of government simply doing the wrong thing and overreacting badly.

          Of the following three scenarios, which do you think is most likely to work and which is most likely to destroy archaelogical finds?

          1. The landowner must report on any archaelogical finds and pay to have the site investigated. Any items will not belong to the landowner.
          2. The landowner must report on any archaelogical finds and pay to have the site investigated, but the items found will belong to the landowner, who may sell or donate, but not destroy them.
          3. The landowner must report on any archaelogical finds. The government will pay to have the site investigated and will be the owner of any found items.

          To me, the second option is the fairest and most likely to prevent the destruction of the items. If we make it profitable, it is not only fair, but it encourages people to find these items. The third option is less fair in that it doesn't account for the opportunity costs lost due to the investigation, but at least the landowner isn't having to foot the bill. The first option is completely unfair and leads (demonstrably) to lost artifacts.

        • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday June 17, 2013 @12:21PM (#44030511) Homepage Journal
          On the other hand, they'll probably be pretty well preserved now that they're encased in cement.
        • by yurtinus (1590157) on Monday June 17, 2013 @12:27PM (#44030603)

          potentially important history (which belongs to us all) with cement

          Here's the thing - if that important history belongs to all of us, why would the burden for extracting and preserving it fall solely on the homeowner or developer that found it? It's easy for us to say "yeah, that should be preserved" - it's entirely another thing for us to demand somebody else pay for it.

        • by 0racle (667029)
          The way these things are handled leads people to do this. If they are deemed important to society then society should be making sure that it is protected, not the individual member of the society who has the bad luck of stumbling on it footing the bill, not just related to the excavation of the objects but the costs related to work being stopped.

          This article is the perfect example of the issue, they have to by law have it excavated and documented because the find may be of historical importance to the coun
        • "(which belongs to us all)"

          Since you feel such a sense of ownership, maybe you should get your butt out there, and take care of business. In the absence of prompt action, it will be assumed that you've abandoned your claim of ownership.

        • Actually, that history doesn't belong to us (all), but nice work with the whole broad appeal thing. Works wonders on juries when someone is trying to lift someone else's stuff, but needs to do it in a politically acceptable way. That history would, in theory, belong either to those who found it (assuming it was abandoned / no known descendents), or to the descendents of that piece of history.

          But I digress, you're going to find some way to put it into a museum for the masses to gawk at, and setup something a

      • by boristdog (133725)

        I can verify this. A pipeline company ran into a decent-sized cavern on my property (many years before I bought it) and they just filled it in with dirt from elsewhere on the property so they wouldn't have to deal with environmental or archeological laws.

        Which sucks now because I wish I had a cavern on my property.

  • OH CANADA! (Score:5, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday June 17, 2013 @10:28AM (#44029057)

    Think you found the bones of someone who was murdered in Canada? Better be safe: Help the original killer by reburying the bones somewhere else. Thank you for your cooperation, Citizen.

    • Re:OH CANADA! (Score:5, Informative)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:33AM (#44029855)

      I uhh, didn't mean for this to be 'funny'. I'm deadly serious: The law of unintended consequences is working overtime here. This is another classic example of how strict liability laws cause grave injustices. In the ideal case, nobody should ever be punished for trying to do the right think, contacting proper authorities, and generally taking personal responsibility for reporting a possible crime or public safety concern, or in cases where there is immediate threat to life, taking action -- even if such action in hindsight is later determined to have been unnecessary, incomplete, etc.

      Laws like this take away a person's incentive and motivation to do good by others. To take personal responsibility. To be good citizens.

      While its intent may have been to protect burial sites, etc., a noble idea... the actual effect has been to punish a living, responsible, contributing member of society for disturbing inanimate objects with no intrinsic value. It is, in effect, a form of religious bigotry -- not everyone believes that the remains of the dead have value, and nature doesn't give a damn... it recycles you when you're dead. And the judges' hands are tied on this because in strict liability cases, mens rea can't be considered -- that is, your motivation is totally irrelevant. I mean, even if it's to save lives, you're still just as guilty as if you'd done it out of pure malice and hatred.

  • by BenJeremy (181303) on Monday June 17, 2013 @10:28AM (#44029061)

    Throw the bones away in the trash.

    Likewise, property owners frustrated with the US's endangered species act find it's easier to hunt and kill such species on their property, rather than lose access to that property.

    Isn't it wonderful, how well all this legislation to protect historical or ecological treasure works?

    • Yep, for a while over in Africa they cut the horns off rhino's to stop poachers. The result? The poachers still spent days tracking an animal only to find out it didn't have a horn - so they killed it anyway out of spite.
      • by PPH (736903) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:19AM (#44029669)

        I think they are changing their tactics. They are poisoning the rhino horns in such a manner as not to harm the rhino, but to sicken* or kill the people who eventually ingest the horn products. It will only require poisoning a few of them and a few resulting deaths making the news to reduce the demand for horn.

        * Its a shame they couldn't find something to render the users impotent. And spread the news that even toughing the horns makes your junk shrivel.

    • by Jodka (520060) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:18AM (#44029641)

      ... property owners frustrated with the US's endangered species act find it's easier to hunt and kill such species on their property, rather than lose access to that property.

      The term for this is "shoot, shovel and shut up." [wikipedia.org]

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      I find it easier to kill those property owners than waiting for the law to deal with them.

      What's good for the goose and all.

      Regulations don't work if people are criminals? What a fucking surprise.

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday June 17, 2013 @12:01PM (#44030221)

        Regulations don't work if people are criminals? What a fucking surprise.

        Sure they do. They just work slowly. If I break into your house and steal your TV, the odds of me getting caught are pretty low. If I break into a hundred houses and steal their TVs too... chances are good they're going to bust me. When you stop looking at police as a way to prevent crime and instead as a way to deter crime, it becomes quite a bit clearer how it all fits together.

        And for people saying "gun regulation can't work! Only criminals will have guns!", (The classic contemporary anti-regulation argument) I refer them to the fact that gun regulation on the purchase of silencers has been so effective that very few people have them. Regulation does work -- it works by preventing systemic abuse or crime, in the same way that traffic signals can't stop you from driving however you want... but people mostly obey the laws anyway because (a) it actually does keep them safer, and (b) it's a big fat fine and possible loss of driving privileges if you're busted too many times breaking too many laws.

    • Maybe folks who object to well-intentioned laws arent cold heardless jerks after all; maybe theres valid reasons to think that "more regulation" isnt the universal right answer.

  • by Jabrwock (985861) on Monday June 17, 2013 @10:33AM (#44029115) Homepage
    The Act allows for them to apply to the minister for an exemption, upon granting the state will pay the cost.

    The law as written was meant to ensure companies are responsible for the archaeological costs incurred from digging up their land instead of saddling the taxpayer.

    The Star is just ginning this up as their usual "GOVERNMENT BAD" drivel.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Monday June 17, 2013 @10:41AM (#44029213) Homepage

      The Star is just ginning this up as their usual "GOVERNMENT BAD" drivel.

      And Slashdot's happy to repeat it.

      • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday June 17, 2013 @12:34PM (#44030689) Journal

        Because it's TRUE.

        Yes, they can apply for an exemption.
        Yes they will PROBABLY get it....but not certainly.

        The fact is, if a person/corporation/dog digs up something on their property that someone else thinks is important, why should that property owner pay for it EVER unless they can expect reasonable compensation to at least offset those costs?

        Seriously?

        The law as written is stupid. If I dig up inuit bones, it's meaningless to me. If the inuit (or more realistically, some caucasian anthropologists, right?) feel what I find is valuable, THEY can flippin' pay for it. If it's not worth them sinking $5000 into the 'site evaluation' plus whatever I want to charge for the inconvenience of delaying my project, then screw them and grind it to dust.

        • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Monday June 17, 2013 @01:28PM (#44031399) Homepage

          Somebody has to pay for society. I'm not particularly keen on it being the landowner, but if the government pays as a matter of course, the door's wide open for exploitation. A reasonable system (in my opinion) would be to have the government pay for major expenses, and private entities pay for minor things, where the definitions of "major" and "minor" are determined by an appropriately-uninterested third party.

          That sounds pretty similar to what's happening here:

          Bob Bailey, the MPP for the area, saw her story in the local newspaper and his staff did some research into the couple’s predicament. He found out that Sauve can make a request to the Registrar of Cemeteries to determine if paying for the excavation would be considered an “undue financial burden.” The registrar will then either reimburse her or pay the bill directly.

          Bailey said he has spoken to the minister of consumer services (the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act falls under her purview) and her staff, and intends to make sure Sauve won’t have to pay.

          An unexpected $5000 bill to a residential homeowner is pretty likely to be undue, but it's up to the registrar to decide. We could of course wait and see, but since this is Slashdot, we're never going to get the resolution. Even if the registrar pays the whole bill, Slashdot won't report on it. Instead, the next anti-government story that can be spun into a revolutionary frenzy will make the front page.

          If I dig up inuit bones, it's meaningless to me. If the inuit feel what I find is valuable, THEY can flippin' pay for it. If it's not worth them sinking $5000 into the 'site evaluation' plus whatever I want to charge for the inconvenience of delaying my project, then screw them and grind it to dust.

          And this is why we have government in the first place. Society as a whole has determined that the cultural and scientific value of the bones is worth more than any "inconvenience" to you, so society's government has declared it illegal to knowingly (or negligently) "grind it to dust". If you're building a new multi-million-dollar complex, and your preliminary survey encounters some artifacts, the few thousand dollars extra it costs you to comply with the law is an insignificant price. In the colonial cities on the United States' east coast, this is a routine occurrence, and there are grant programs available specifically to pay for such things.

          Even scarier than the unexpected bills to citizens is the opportunity for fraud against the government. If the government's policy is to simply pay all excavation and exploration bills, anybody with a few old bones can drop them on a planned construction site, and have the cost of construction subsidized by the taxpayers. If the government's also required to pay for "inconvenience", the fraud can set whatever price he wants, and effectively hold history for ransom. Through the indirect process of representative government, society has said they'd rather have occasional unexpected bills.

    • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Monday June 17, 2013 @10:45AM (#44029287)

      The law as written was meant to ensure companies are responsible for the archaeological costs incurred from digging up their land instead of saddling the taxpayer.

      I don't see why companies should be saddled with this cost either, unless perhaps they purchased a piece of land knowing ahead-of-time that it was likely to contain archaeological artifacts. In many cases the law already requires the owner to "stand aside" while someone digs up archeological finds. In Rome that happens in about every other construction project. That's enough of a burden. I'm all for archaeology and historical preservation, but it's absurd to stick the land owner with the cost.

      OTOH I doubt one would have to pay an archaeologist (can you find them on Craig's List?). A call to your local university history or archaeology department would probably get it done for free.

      • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday June 17, 2013 @10:56AM (#44029383) Homepage Journal

        I'm all for archaeology and historical preservation, but it's absurd to stick the land owner with the cost.

        It could be handled that way, but with responsibility comes authority in a sane property rights regime. That is, the owners should be able to sell the archaeological finds to the highest bidder to recoup the dig costs or dispose of them if the costs cannot be recouped (that is, nobody finds the dig to be of value).

        That would be the way to maximize the recovery of artifacts and have them make their way to museums. Sure, in the short term private collectors might have them, but that's not a lasting problem, especially compared to the age of most interesting artifacts.

        It sounds like in Canada the owners have the responsibility but not the authority. That's just a way to socialize costs in an acute fashion and to reinforce the idea of weak property rights.

        • the owners should be able to sell the archaeological finds to the highest bidder to recoup the dig costs

          Are you sure that they can't? IIRC that's become an issue because dinosaur skeletons for example can be very valuable. A dino skeleton on your property can be found gold, but it makes it horrible expensive for museums and the like to purchase them. Part of me thinks "your land, your dino", just as a mineral find on your property can be literally a gold mine (assuming you have the mineral rights too). OTOH a market approach to dinos doesn't make much sense because they ain't making any more of them.

          Either

        • by femtobyte (710429) on Monday June 17, 2013 @01:21PM (#44031315)

          That would be the way to maximize the recovery of artifacts and have them make their way to museums. Sure, in the short term private collectors might have them, but that's not a lasting problem, especially compared to the age of most interesting artifacts.

          This is about the worst case for actual archaeological research. What collectors want --- a pretty looking specimen to display on the shelf --- is often the least interesting/important part for researchers. Most of the useful information from archeological digs comes from meticulous recording and analysis of all the "rubbish" at the dig site --- all the stuff that looters tear through and discard to find the shiny baubles. Little fragments of rotted wood can be just as important (or more so) than the occasional solid gold jewelery for learning about history. By the time an artifact has passed through private collector's hands, it (and the site from which it was looted) has usually been rendered nearly worthless as an object of academic historical study.

    • by tippe (1136385)

      Hopefully they got title insurance when they bought the house, which in Ontario covers this type of thing (it covers things like errors in surveys or public records, amongst other things that would affect the ability to sell or finance the property). If they didn't: sucks to be them, but I have no pity. It only costs a few hundred dollars to get title insurance when you buy a house, which you can just lump in with your mortgage if you don't want to pay outright. If they don't get an exemption for the 5k,

  • Idiot lawmakers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Monday June 17, 2013 @10:33AM (#44029125)

    The next such skeleton found will just go into the trash...

  • How t f (Score:4, Funny)

    by rossdee (243626) on Monday June 17, 2013 @10:40AM (#44029209)

    "an aboriginal woman who died at age 24 ;

    How did an Aboriginal woman manage to travel all the way from Australia to Canada 400 years ago ?

  • by zullnero (833754) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:31AM (#44029819) Homepage
    But the reason most of this works the way it does in most governments is that originally, the state or university system covers the cost of the evaluation as part of the law because it's of national importance. Also, digging up the graves of people's ancestors and then throwing the remains in the trash deeply offends a majority of people, especially tribes or such that may claim that person as one of their ancestors.

    Then politicians (usually on the conservative side, or the "moderate middle") decide that the government can't be "burdened" with what amounts to a trifle of spending every year (seriously, it's like the equivalent of maybe a buck in your pocket in government budget terms). A reasonable majority of average citizens can't wrap their heads around the average government budget in perspective to their own so they cheer it on, vote it through. Mostly they don't even remember or understand why their parents or grandparents passed such a law in the first place, but not unlike the politicians, feel that they need to "make their mark". So, they turn the cost over to individuals. But the law stays on the books because a lobby or two makes a really sharp point about how the end result is that individuals would end up digging up corpses of their ancestors to install swimming pools and not, you know, properly care for those remains afterward. (aka trash bin coffins)

    Then years later, a story gets posted on Slashdot, and the readers are outraged that the government, with it's "highly repressive laws" would dare to impose such a cost on individual property owners without understanding the full history of said law. That their parents or they themselves may have actually been in favor of causing in the first place but they "forgot" because it was "boring".
  • by dschl (57168) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:37AM (#44029901) Homepage

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/04/19/bc-diggingbill.html [www.cbc.ca]

    One family on Vancouver Island got charged $35,000 for archeologists to check for arrowheads. I've heard of archeologists in BC (same firm as the $35k one) who registered a site near where I live onto the archeology registry without the owner's knowledge, because they thought they found arrowheads. Later on, when the local First Nations archeologist looked at them, she said "They're just rocks", and tossed them.

    The adage for ranchers when it comes to endangered species used to be (and still may be) "shoot, shovel, and shut up". Same with artifacts in Canada, if you're smart.

  • What is property? (Score:4, Informative)

    by HalfFlat (121672) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:41AM (#44029937)

    It is by no means clear that anyone has a fundamental right to own land. Indeed, few individuals own land outright — in common law states, real property is typically held fee simple.

    If all land were owned and its use restricted to private individuals, how could one live without being a property owner, or being beholden to one? Land exists independently of human art, and our literal existence demands that we at the very least reside in it, breathe the air on it, and so forth. Morally, the private, exclusive use of land must come with an obligation that that ownership benefits our society more than a lack of ownership would — there is an obligation of stewardship, if nothing else.

    The system whereby our governments enforce property ownership is almost certainly better than one where individuals maintain the exclusive use and benefit of land by force. Yet it is by no means a natural system, and those who benefit by it to the exclusion of their fellows should not be divorced from the obligations associated with it.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday June 17, 2013 @12:45PM (#44030823)
    This absurdity that the government "owns" "historical" (and they often use a very broad definition of "historical") found on your property has done much more harm than good, especially in Europe.

    What this is saying to those who might find historical artifacts is to either ignore them or avoid recording them. This is counter-productive to the preservation of history. Instead, what needs to happen is we need to let the market help history. For example, a dug arrowhead is unlikely to fetch much money at market, but a dug arrowhead with a story behind it will often fetch much more, thus giving an incentive to have finds "checked out" because that means extra $$$ for you when you sell it.

    Of course it also has a more outrageous claim, the claim to own things on your own property. Whatever is buried on your land, be it an Anglo-Saxon hoard, oil, or whatever is yours to do with as you wish so long as you own the land.

Remember, UNIX spelled backwards is XINU. -- Mt.

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