So much has happened in the last few years, certainly that affects Anne and myself . . . as it surely does most of the people who read this BLOG, that it is simply mind-boggling. And in some cases it’s downright frightening.
I have been locked in a multi-year Legal Battle over Freedom Of Expression Issues in Canada, which has recently cost more than $125,000 in legal fees alone, with a supplementary Court Ruling against me personally, for an additional $300,000 in costs for the other side, simply because two ACTIVIST Liberal Courts (Superior and Appeals) in the province of Ontario decided that it is OK by their interpretation of Canada’s Constitution to suspend Freedom Of Expression, when it comes to promoting one language (French) over another (English).
I have been FIGHTING for Individual and Constitutional RIGHTS, specifically FREEDOM of Expression for MORE years than I want to count. NONE of which directly affected just my life, but affected the LIVES of everyone.
This wasn’t my last FIGHT, but more than any others, or perhaps as a compilation of all of them I’ve fought over the decades, it took a great deal out of me . . . far more than I had imagined, until I suffered the small stroke in early January of this year (2015).
Since I took-on so many government agencies, I always worried about what would happen if the government ever tried to really teach me a lesson by burying me in COURT COSTS, AUDITS . . . ETC?
I worried for Anne, who . . . although she always stood by my side like the ROCK of GIBRALTAR, even when the police hurried her outside of our house under protective custody due to credible kidnap threats against her, because of my activism, she never said a discouraging word.
When Anne was literally FORCED to live with ARMED BODY GUARDS for months on end over a period of years, also because of my activism, she never asked me to stop, even though I knew that she wished I would.
IN ADDITION TO ALL OF THAT . . . my greatest fear was that she could have been left broke, if the government ever came after me with a vengeance, as we have witnessed with so many others, even though our personal and corporate lives are squeaky clean.
In 1996 or there about, I determined several things:
1 – I was not about to stop fighting no matter how hard they hammered me.
2 – And I was not about to endanger Anne financially.
So, in 1996, I sold Anne the advertising agency I founded in 1979. And from 1996-on, Anne has literally run the agency with little help from me, other than for me to see clients and write, direct, and produce advertising spots on radio, television and in print.
And in all reality . . . with no pretense whatsoever, Anne’s 100% ownership of the advertising Agency is REALLY hers. As a matter of fact, without me, Anne will carry on the agency. But without Anne, it would come to an end.
Anne and I were married on May 1, 1973 in Montreal, in the Province of Quebec, which at that time had a unique Marriage Contract, where either side could totally separate the other side from any kind of title to property of all kind.
FOR EXAMPLE . . . Our Marriage Contract says that Anne has full TITLE to whichever property we own that is in her name, and all the BELONGINGS upon it, unless they are in my name specifically.
It takes a great deal of TRUST for a newly married couple to enter into such an agreement.
Several years later, because Quebec men were using this Contract to take terrible advantage of their wives, the Quebec government changed the rules of the Marriage Contract. But, there was a short period of adjustment when Married Couples such as Anne and I could OPT-OUT of the new law which negated the Marriage Contract by BOTH signing the OPT-OUT AGREEMENT, which we did.
Had we not Opted-Out of the new law, Anne and I would have had our Marriage Contract ANNULLED automatically, but, by OPTING-OUT of the new law, we actually REINFORCED our commitment to our original PLEDGE to each other, and our TRUST in our marriage.
In essence . . . Our Marriage Contract SEPARATED our property and contents from each other in their entirety. What I owned specifically; was either mine or ours. BUT, what I DIDN’T own specifically, belonged entirely to Anne.
The work on the farm became unsustainable, as I was getting older. It’s not as though I’m not in good shape physically, because I am. And it’s not because I’m OLD, which at 64 I am not, but I’m also not a kid any longer, and doing the chores today, takes a great deal more out of me than it did just yesterday.
Anne and I are not rich people, and like MOST people we have to deal with the never-ending escalation of costs FORCED upon us by government and the unions, which means less money to hire fulltime help.
I wrote an editorial a short while ago saying that the farm is for sale . . . that it’s become too much for us to handle – between tending the horses, grooming the FIVE miles of the on-property riding/walking trails, and spending one complete day out of five just cutting the grass.
Then there was the maintenance of equipment and the making of hay. And after all was said and done, taking care of the farm became nearly a FULL-TIME obligation. It was great when we were somewhat younger and didn’t mind spending THOUSANDS of dollars every year on student help. But, with each passing season, it seems to be getting incrementally harder.
So much harder in fact . . . that it became a real source of STRESS.
Our original thought was to sell the farm and build a much smaller home with a total living footprint of twelve hundred square feet; to be built as energy efficiently as we could, in a style that would require the absolute minimal amount of maintenance on a one acre lot, nestled in a hardwood forest that would require virtually no lawn cutting.
The PLAN was to build this house, take possession of it, and then and sell it as quickly as we could, in order to turn a reasonable tax-free profit, since in Canada, there is no Capital Gains Tax on the sale of a principal residence.
And after selling the property we would move SOUTH, either permanently or for the winter. BUT . . . the buyers of the farm had a different idea; they wanted Anne and myself to agree to a one year lease on the farm, so they could take their time selling their property before moving into “ours”, which we agreed to.
BUT THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING . . . because, if we had to keep the new house empty for even six months over the winter, paying the taxes, insurance, light, heat and electricity, plus the general maintenance, there would be no profit left in the plan. So we shelved it, even though we had all the trades lined-up with the design of the house laid-out and ready to go.
Living virtually debt FREE, with two company auto leases amounting to less than $1000 per month COMBINED, our annual cost of living in a very modest mortgage free home was about SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS.
And as unbelievable as it sounds . . . THE SPREAD SHEET DIDN’T LIE.
When taking all of our costs into consideration, especially considering the BIG ONES like property taxes, ENERGY costs, which in Ontario (Canada) are nothing short of criminal, the value of our money tied into a property that will never appreciate during our lifetime, the combined $1000 lease for the business vehicles, the insurances covering my motorcycle, Anne’s Miata and the two leased business cars etc . . . etc . . . etc – the annual cost was mind boggling.
The FACT that Anne and I would have to layout as much as $60,000 per year to live a modest and virtually debt-free life was staggering. And in FACT, for us to CLEAR $60,000 per year . . . meant that we would have to earn at least $100,000 just to keep even.
I have no idea how most people in Canada or the USA can get by with a small pension or even a modest salary, when government policies create such an unbearable financial burden to those who can afford it the least.
WHEN I THINK OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR with their bloated salaries, perks and OBSCENE pensions . . . MY BLOOD BOILS, especially knowing that the people who pay for these BLOODSUCKERS, are the people who can hardly keep a roof over their own heads.
In addition to the failed Court Case . . . WE ALSO LOST A GREAT DEAL OF MONEY on the sale of our property, but that’s the way it goes in a crummy economy. And it’s also not to say that we walked away broke.
Anne and I are close to being in our mid sixties . . . we both like to work. And both of us like to be engaged in the game of life. And for us, I see no retirement on the horizon . . . but that does not mean we are about to continue along a path to nowhere.
WHEN I WROTE WE WOULD SELL THE FARM AND MAYBE MOVE SOUTH, I couldn’t believe the emails I received . . . along with COMMENTS on the Editorial Page encouraging Anne and myself to move to various parts of the USA. We even had offers of FREE land.
Anne and I are OPTING-OUT. We will no longer play the government game of working as hard as we can just to keep BUREAUCRATS fat and happy by giving them as much of our hard earned money as they can get their hands on.
We’re not going to build a new house that will bury us during the construction stage with STUPID regulations, permits, fees and taxes that benefit NO ONE but the Public Sector. AND WE DON’T EVER WANT TO PAY ANOTHER WELCOMING TAX.
We don’t want to pay property taxes for the privilege of owning a home that is a REVENUE CENTER for all levels of government. And we no longer want to get RIPPED-OFF for obscene energy costs.
Being Canadians, both born and raised in Montreal, we’ve endured more than SIXTY years of frigid temperatures, knee to thigh deep snow, ice, frozen pipes, winterized vehicles, frost-burn and literal hibernation for SIX months out of the year, not that Anne and I ever had the luxury of hibernation. But, I’m certain that you get my “drift”.
IN ADDITION . . . I NEVER EVER WANT TO SHOVEL SNOW AGAIN:
SO HERE IT IS . . . I will NEVER stop fighting for individual RIGHTS as long as I am mentally capable to carry-on the battle. I will NEVER stop writing as long as my mind is sharp. And I will CONTINUE with Social and Political ACTIVISM as long as my body stands up to the rigors.
And I will continue with this Conservative BLOG and my determination to promote and grow the Pledge Ride as a passion beyond description.
AND MOST OF ALL PERHAPS . . . Anne will continue to own, manage and promote the Advertising Agency, which pays for our lifestyle.
What makes galganov.com as popular as it is . . . is the fact that I open up revealing things other people would think are too personal or embarrassing. But, when I write about my FAILURES as much as my successes, it strikes a chord with the vast majority of people who can relate to my reality, because it seems that my story isn’t all that much unique in the greater sense of things than the stories of other people.
When I was ordered to pay $300,000 in Court Costs to the “winning” side with no chance of APPEAL, because the Supreme Court of Canada was too COWARDLY to hear our appeal. Anne and I faced several choices:
1 – Anne could sell the farm and its assets, and give me the money to pay the $300,000 cost that I personally expensed on behalf of EVERY Canadian’s RIGHT to FREEDOM of Expression.
2 – I could ignore the Court Order and wait for the Bailiff to visit the farm and begin seizing Anne’s property, while we spend THOUSANDS of dollars on lawyers to keep that from happening. And then I would live with a judgment against me forever.
3 – I could have begged the people who visit this BLOG along with friends and family to help me make a possible settlement for a lesser amount of money.
4 – OR . . . I could visit a Trustee and declare Personal Bankruptcy, negating my good CREDIT name, relegating me to being in a position where I cannot hold any debt or have assets that could be used to pay the $300,000 for a year or more.
You have to imagine how much of a bitter pill OPTION 4 would be to me, especially since I had already felt the pain of failure in the past as a young man, while I was building our business, but had risen more than once from the ashes, to enjoy the well deserved respect of all the people with whom I do business.
BUT THAT’S WHAT I DID.
There was no way in a MILLION YEARS that I was going to make any decision to do any harm to Anne. That was NOT going to happen . . . NOT EVER!
After giving it careful thought, I decided not to ask anyone, not visitors and supporters of this BLOG, nor friends or relatives to give any amount of their hard earned money to a Township and their Blood-Sucking lawyers, to pay off a Court Order on a Civil Rights Issue WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE LOST.
So . . . I bit the bullet and FREED Anne and myself from a burden that was tearing me apart from the inside out.
Yet, during all of this . . . I never stopped writing. I never stopped my form of Activism. I never stopped funding those things that are important. And I never stopped organizing and promoting the Pledge Ride.
I’M PROUD OF THAT.
In my next Editorial . . . COMING SOON – I’ll tell you the rest of the story.
Best Regards . . . Howard Galganov