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05/28/2010

Victims of G20 protest-related damage will be treated "fairly," Baird says. But does fairness come in bills?

Federal cabinet minister John Baird seemed to open the door to property owner who suffer protest-related damage during the G20 summit to receive compensation, but stopped short of promising any money.

“I understand people in Toronto have every right to expect that they’ll be treated fairly, as we have at other summits and we’ll ensure that’s done,” Baird said Friday.

The minister of transportation, infrastructure and communities didn’t explicitly say businesses will be compensated, suggesting such a promise would give “the green light to every hooligan that they’ll be an unlimited cash flow.”

“What I’m not going to say, is to give an invitation to every vandal, thug that they have an unlimited right to destroy downtown property. We’re going to put all of our focus on keeping the city and property safe and obviously we will treat the people of Toronto fairly as we have at other summits.”

Toronto Councillor Adam Vaughan, whose ward will host the summit, dismissed Baird’s comments.

“Until he says we’re covering costs, he is not covering costs. There is a funding formula and compensation for businesses that suffer damage isn’t it," he said.

On Thursday, Vaughan blasted Ottawa’s decision not to cover damage claims, calling it “absolutely unacceptable.”

 “They’re bringing this party to town. They know what accompanies this sort of event. For them to walk away from small businesses … is an absolute disgrace.”

People suffering damage should look to their insurer, according to a memo from the federal government’s Summits Management Office.

Mayor David Miller added concern for local hot dog vendors, some of whom will be moved for the summit.

Those who have to relocate should be compensated, he said, but added that the businesses have to negotiate that with the feds.

— With files from David Rider

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