THE CREATION OF A HEMPIRE VILLAGE
In 1994, Ontario politician John Long
donated thirteen acres of abandoned IMICO foundry lands in Guelph to the Church.
The church still hadn't regained Clearwater Abbey, but the IMIC0 lands would
become the site of a newer vision.
It was a cold night when , puffing a cloud of sweet smoke over
the property deed and intoning "Bless this," Reverend Tucker
accepted ownership of the site on behalf of the church. The media exploded in
a pyrotechnic display of picture flashes. CSIS agents slid in the flashes'
shadows as Reverend Tucker renamed the site "Hempire Village".
On the site, Reverend Tucker intends to build a sustainable
community based on the growth of hemp and the manufacture of hemp products.
A church videotape shows Reverend Tucker pointing in various
directions, suggesting ideal locations for a swimming pool for the elderly, a
refuge for youth, a topnotch sports complex. "A place for the community
that's what I see," said Tucker.
There were, and continue to be, a few problems with the site,
however. Local governments hired an environmental consultant, who declared
the site "leachate toxic with regards to lead" and claimed it would
cost 6 million to clean up. There is also a city tax debt of 2.1 million
dollars attached to the site. The estimated value of the site, however, is
under 1 million, and only after the 6 million dollar environmental clean-up.
It would seem reasonable that the city should welcome Reverend
Tucker, who promises to do the clean-up himself. Even if the city cleans up
the site itself and sells it, it will lose 5 million dollars, according to
the city's own figures. And wouldn't a sustainable community be far better
than the kind of business run by John Cooke, the previous owner, who polluted
the land for so many years?
However, on October 19, 1994, the Guelph Tribune reported that
the city had initiated a process to take over the land for unpaid taxes. Was
the mayor of the City of Guelph unable to operate an adding machine? Or was
he hiding something?
In an interview with Reverend Tucker and John Long, former
candidate for the leadership of the Provincial Liberal Party and the donator
of the land, I was given a very convincing explanation.
A 1994 Interview with Reverend Tucker and John Long
Rev Tucker: "A deal was made to declare this
property polluted until interested parties could get their hands on it. I've
had people come here and offer to take everything off the property.
Buildings, everything. At no cost to me. That's how much scrap metal there
Interviewer: But there's no pollution here?
Rev. Tucker: "No."
John Long: "How they got it was they seeded a sample,
one sample, in order to get this place declared 'leachate toxic'. In the back
corner is a dry well where they washed zinc and lead off machinery parts. The
zinc and lead would then wash out to the city sewer system. But some remained
behind in the dry-well, because the zinc and lead were heavy."
"They went down the dry well and took the sample out of
there. Right from the bottom. The sample they took was thirteen percent over
the amount needed to declare the property leachate toxic with regards to
John Long: "This guy John Cooke was a colossal
empire builder. He wanted to get something going like the Hagersville
tire-fire cleanup. The Ministry of the Environment and everyone else
running around in white suits, a big show.
"Cooke was gunning for the job of decommissioning the
property and he thought he could get the feds and the province to go along
with it. And if he could be the boss, he could make a lot of money. He had everyone,
including the Mayor of Guelph, mesmerized that this place could be declared
an orphan site. He would be paying people to take valuable scrap metal off
?The feds told me that the property would never qualify for
decommissioning, as it was not polluted enough. There were plenty of sites
more polluted that the feds could put their money into if they had it. But
they don't have any money, and neither does the province.
"So Cooke had the silly old Mayor led around by the nose.
And the silly old Mayor was silly enough to think he could get the IMICO site
Walter: They had to make this thing look bad so no one
wanted to touch it. The city knows there is no pollution here. Someone should
launch a suit against these bastards for lying, and for destroying property
A Question Remains
What did Reverend Tucker and other
church members do to arouse the ire of our big brothers, those government
agents who work so arduously to protect us all from ourselves? The answer is
deceptively simple: Tucker and other church members practice their religion.
In Canada, if a religion is not approved of by the authorities, it is
When I think of all the persecution that Tucker has suffered
since the "good old days" at Clearwater Abbey, I am reminded of
what he said to me during the summer of 1994. I had asked him if he wanted to
save people, to give them a new life.
"No," he said, "how can I be responsible for
somebody else's life? If you have to ask my permission for something, you
should kill me."
What Reverend Tucker said didn't seem to fit with the many
actions he and Baldasaro have taken in court, not only for themselves, but
for others. Perhaps it was Reverend Tucker's experience with society's
"permission-givers" - those who staff our legal system - that
shaped Tucker's attitude. Whatever the cause, Reverend Tucker is no longer
just a marijuana missionary, he's also a freedom fighter.
Meanwhile, persecuted church members like Archbishop Baldasaro
pray for a day when they can reconsecrate the holy land of Clearwater Abbey.
A day when they can break the ice of the quarry, and open a hole through
which marijuana smokers everywhere might escape into freedom.
Brother Walter and
Brother William Tucker
THE CHURCH ATTACKS
“City of Guelph sued
for Breach of
Reverend Tucker is indeed suing the City of Guelph, for
breach of fiduciary duty in failing to collect taxes from those who were
responsible for generating them in the first place, namely the bank which
took possession of the property after John Cooke left. Not only did the bank
fail to pay the taxes, it arranged to have the site stripped of
valuable materials and machinery, which it sold for its own profit.
A final twist in the case was the church's discovery that the two
million dollar tax bill was fraudulently inflated by the City of Guelph.
"The tax arrears illegally included Workers' Compensation arrears and
Hydro bills. During our dealing with the city to define the bills we found
that the true tax arrears are only approximately $400,000," revealed
Meanwhile, healthy locals who worked at the foundry all of their
lives still recall how they hauled buckets of the supposedly
"polluted" soil home to fertilize their gardens - gardens from
which they fed their families, who also remain healthy.