The first part of this article provides an overview of the most dominant private and public law approaches that have been attempted in the courts by plaintiffs seeking redress for historical wrongs and outlines why these approaches have been unsuccessful. It also defines the notion of historical wrongs and provides background on the two historical wrongs used as a case study in this paper – Aboriginal residential schools and sexual sterilization in Alberta. In the second part, I turn to discuss the phenomenon of creating compensation schemes as an alternative to traditional court action. Two illustrative examples are the outcry surrounding the introduction of a statute to compensate the victims of sterilization in Alberta and the continuing challenges related to the Aboriginal school resolution process established by the federal government. An examination of the compensation schemes that emerged in these two contexts as well as the process of their emergence provide valuable insight into some of the tensions that can occur when systems of compensation for victims of historical wrongs are designed. I argue that these tensions may be addressed by fostering continuous dialogue between the government and the victims and through independent oversight. Finally, I offer some observations on the ways in which compensatory schemes for historical wrongs expand our traditional conceptions of administrative justice.
Jacobs, Laverne, Reconciling Tort and Administrative Law Concepts of Justice: The Case of Historical Wrongs (November 1, 2007). University of New Brunswick Law Journal, Vol. 57, pp. 134-161, 2007.