Ontario Ministry of Transportation asks court to toss out Tesla lawsuit

The MTO has argued that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the government's decision


Ontario’s provincial government has filed a motion requesting that the province’s Superior Court of Justice dismiss a petition from Tesla Canada claiming that the company was unfairly targeted as a result of the cancellation of the electric vehicle rebate program.

According to an August 23rd, 2018 Canadian Press report, Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation used its filing to argue that the court has no jurisdiction over the government’s EV rebate policy decision.

“While framed as a judicial review of an ostensibly administrative decision, the application is essentially an attack on a core policy decision made by Ontario’s Cabinet,” wrote the provincial government in its August 21st, 2018 filing.

“Such a decision is not reviewable by the court and is not a basis to quash the decision.”

The Ministry’s filing is in response to a Tesla application for judicial review on the grounds that Ontario’s decision to end its EV rebate program specifically targeted the Canadian arm of the U.S.-based electric vehicle manufacturer.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government initially promised that anyone who purchased or ordered an electric vehicle on or before the rebate program’s June 11th, 2018 cancellation date would still be eligible for a rebate.

According to Tesla, however, the government’s EV rebate program “grandfathered applications all such purchases except for purchases from Tesla Canada.”

For Tesla, the crux of the issue is that the fact that the government’s decision specifically outlines that applications will only be accepted from “dealerships, car owners or prospective car owners.”

While Tesla operates physical stores and galleries across the province, customers purchase vehicles online through the Tesla website or through subsidiaries like Tesla Canada.

As such, an argument can be made that Tesla doesn’t technically operate any dealerships in the province.

Tesla counterargument — as outlined in its initial filing — is that “Tesla Canada currently operates four stores that are licensed dealerships.”

Tesla has specifically asked that the Ontario Superior Court quash the government’s decision to exclude the company from the grandfathered rebate program.

When pressed for comment, representatives from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation directed MobileSyrup to the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG), which ultimately declined to comment.

“As this matter is subject to litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” said a representative for the MAG, in an email to MobileSyrup.

Source: Canadian Press

Update 23/08/18 1:33pm ET: Story updated with additional reporting and comment from the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.