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Compensation for G8 Summit Conference losses
J. Bruce Melville
This article was contributed by J. Bruce Melville, a lawyer in private practice with an office in the greater Vancouver area of British Columbia. It has been reproduced here with permission from the author.

Background

At the time of writing of this article (June 2002), the Canadian government was planning for an international conference of world leaders known as the G8 Summit. The main site will be the resort town of Kananaskis, Alberta.

The Canadian government is planning elaborate security measures that will likely impact those who live or work in Kananaskis. Anticipating this impact, the government has just released a compensation policy drafted specifically for this event.

The compensation policy is titled "G8 Summit Compensation Guidelines" and is currently published by Public Works and Government Services Canada on their website found at www.pwgsc.gc.ca. It has also been reproduced as an Appendix to this article. The version reproduced in the Appendix was found on the government website as of June 8, 2002. [Editor's note: the document link was no longer available on the government website when checked on January 11, 2003.]

The guidelines raise some interesting compensation issues which are examined below.

Overview

This compensation policy has been expressly written to handle claims that the federal government is expecting will follow the G8 Summit conference.

At the outset, the policy states "..Canada does not have a legal obligation to provide payment for losses as a result of meetings held in Canada." This is offered as justification for the policy. It is difficult to imagine any situation where Canada would have a legal obligation to compensate individuals merely because a meeting was held in Canada. However, that is not what the policy is aimed at. The real issue is whether Canada has a legal obligation to compensate for government actions that occur at or in the vicinity of the conference.

The Government of Canada is not immune from legal action and it is entirely possible that incidents could occur for which Canada is legally liable. Trespass and nuisance are two examples that come to mind immediately. In that case the policy would have no application and legal principles would apply. Any person or organization suffering losses during the conference should obtain legal advice before pursuing remedies under the compensation policy.

The policy states that it is intended to handle compensation claims from persons or organizations suffering "adverse financial consequences" from "extraordinary security measures" implemented for the event. The term "extraordinary security measures" is defined to mean "measures implemented by G8 Summit Security .. to protect the security of Internationally Protected Persons and delegates and ensure the proper functioning of the G8 Summit..". These definitions are vague and leave much to be desired.

Since the policy is directed specifically at losses resulting from measures implemented by "G8 Summit Security" it would be helpful to know who this organization is. Unfortunately, the term is not defined and likely it is not a legal entity. The only clue is provided in Section 6 where it states that the "Solicitor General will be accountable for the security measures".

This issue takes on practical significance when another recent development is considered. Transport Canada has announced a large no-fly zone around the conference site. The zone extends over an area of several hundred square kilometres and includes more than a dozen airports. This action would appear to qualify as an extraordinary security measure that has the potential to cause signficant business losses. However, was it implemented by G8 Summit Security?

By limiting compensation to losses resulting from extraordinary security measures, the policy appears to be designed to avoid compensating for losses caused by activities of third parties who often attend such conferences to participate in public demonstrations and whose activities are one of the reasons for the security measures.

Another question is raised by use of the word "extraordinary" to modify the phrase "security measures". This is intended to avoid compensation for losses caused by ordinary security measures but what are ordinary security measures? This question is not answered.

Although not defined in the policy, it can be assumed that the extraordinary security measures contemplated will involve restrictions or interference with legally protected activities. For example, it is possible that individuals who reside in the community of Kananaskis will be prevented from accessing their homes. The cost of alternate accommodation during the period while the restrictions are in effect would be a financial impact caused by extraordinary security measures and likely the sort of loss that the policy was designed to cover. Of course, loss of access could also create a legal cause of action.

It is surprising that the policy does not cite any statutory authority for the contemplated extraordinary security measures. This would be the logical place to set out the legal rights of persons affected. Perhaps there is no statutory authority?

The policy states, in Section 4, that it applies to "areas within the security perimeter". It also applies to "External Affected Areas" and "Satellite Event Locations". While these terms are clearly intended to describe geographic locations, it is unfortunate that none of the locations are precisely defined. In fact it will likely be impossible to determine with any certainty where security perimeters were located even after the event is over.

Another interesting question is whether the recently announced Transport Canada no-fly zone qualifies as a security perimeter. If not, this restriction has the potential to cause signficant financial losses that would not be compensated under the policy.

The policy states that Canada will require a release as a condition of the payment of compensation. However, assuming that Canada is prepared to pay compensation under this policy on a purely voluntary basis as stated it is difficult to see what purpose the release would serve. Releases are normally used where the party making payment believes that it has a legal liability to do so.

Entitlement

Section 7 deals with eligibility and claims procedure.

Subject to the difficulties noted above in determining the locations where the policy applies, possible claimants are reasonably well defined. They include persons who reside within these locations, businesses and non-profit organizations located inside these locations and businesses and non-profit organizations that are located outside these locations but which have significant operations inside these locations.

Section 7(g) of the Guidelines sets out a claims procedure. However, specific details are not provided and the claim form is not yet available. Claims are to be submitted to Public Works and Government Services Canada but no address is given.

Exclusions

There are many exclusions. They include firstly, damage caused by third parties, personal injury and emotional distress.

Claimants have an obligation to mitigate their losses.

Insured losses will not be compensated.

Claimants which experience significant increases in revenues during the conference outside of periods when extraordinary security measures are in effect must set off those increased revenues against losses suffered during periods when the measures are in effect.

The policy denies compensation to law enforcement agencies. It also denies compensation to all three levels of government. While the exclusion of claims brought by the federal government is no surprise given that the policy will be administered by the federal government, it is not clear why provincial or municipal government losses would not be covered.

Also excluded is compensation for the cost of "private protection measures." While this is not defined, it likely refers to expenditures for physical improvements or for private security services.

Conclusion

Any person who believes that they have suffered losses as a result of G8 Summit events or related activities ought to seek legal advice first. Legal remedies may be available. If so, the G8 Summit Compensation Guidelines will not apply.

If legal remedies are not available, the compensation policy may offer hope. However, the limitations built into the guidelines will ensure that the federal government does not pay out much in compensation.

Few specific details about the claims procedure have been provided at this time. Hopefully, this shortcoming will be rectified by the time the conference gets underway.

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Page last updated: July 10, 2020