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Bill 22 on expropriation: A step backward for property rights according to the MEI

Montreal, May 25, 2023 – The new Act respecting expropriation proposed by the Quebec government constitutes a big step backward for property rights in Quebec, says the Montreal Economic Institute following the tabling of Bill 22.

“With its reform of expropriation, Quebec is prioritizing the interests of municipalities at the expense of the rights of citizens,” says Daniel Dufort, President and CEO of the MEI. “Each dollar that cities and other governmental agencies save will be taken from those they arbitrarily target.”

The Quebec government’s Bill 22 aims to replace the Expropriation Act adopted in 1973. At the time, the expropriation of 12,000 Quebecers in Sainte-Scholastique for the construction of Mirabel Airport was still fresh in people’s minds, and had been mentioned a number of times during debate.

With its bill, Quebec is trying to reduce the cost of expropriation, limiting the required compensation to the market value of the land in its current state, rather than its value to the owner which takes the property’s potential into account.

The Institute worries that this will hurt the business environment in Quebec by no longer taking into account projects in development or to be developed in the calculation of the value of plots of land targeted for expropriation.

According to the institute, the high price tag associated with expropriation is a feature, not a bug, since it serves to protect the interests of citizens.

“Given that the expropriated party has no say in the process, it’s normal for the government body that’s doing the dispossessing to have to pay a hefty sum in compensation,” explains Gabriel Giguère, public policy analyst at the MEI. “The fact that expropriating someone is long and expensive is not a flaw, but rather a safeguard against abuse of this exceptional procedure.”

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The MEI is an independent public policy think tank with offices in Montreal and Calgary. Through its publications, media appearances, and advisory services to policy-makers, the MEI stimulates public policy debate and reforms based on sound economics and entrepreneurship.

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