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Why A Judge Ruled For Tesla In Ontario Bias Litigation

Tesla won in court against the Ontario government. It claimed the cancellation of an electric car rebate program targeted its customers unfairly. The court agreed.

Doug Ford, the braying jackass who is the current premier for the province of Ontario, has just been slapped down by Superior Court judge Frederick Myers. After Ford was elected, he took a meat cleaver to the clean energy and transportation initiatives put in place by his predecessor, cancelling hundreds of contracts and ripping up the Electric and Hydrogen Vehicle Incentive Program that offered rebates of up to $14,000 CAD on qualifying electric vehicles.

In its order cancelling the EHVIP, the Ford maladministration provided a grace period. Any electric car ordered prior to the cancellation that was delivered and registered prior to September 10 would continue to be eligible for the incentives. But there was a catch. The grace period only applied if the car was purchased through a franchise dealer.

Since Tesla sells its cars direct to customers, it was not covered by the grace period, which caused the company to lose sales. Tesla filed suit claiming its exclusion from the grace period was arbitrary and capricious. That’s how people who have been to law school say something is really, really stupid.

In its suit, Tesla claimed it had 600 active orders when the rebate program was terminated and that 175 customers cancelled their orders as a result. It had 34 cars in stock in Ontario at the time and an additional 319 cars in transit.

The government defended its move by saying it was trying to protect small businesses in the province from harm. “Horse puckey,” Tesla responded, but in the appropriate legal language. It pointed out that most dealerships are in fact owned by large corporations, as the days of the small hometown dealership disappeared along with the Y2K nonsense.

Those large corporations donate a lot of money to political candidates in order to protect their economic interests. Could some of that money influenced the Ford camp to exclude Tesla from the grace period? You can make up your own mind on that subject.

Judge Myers agreed with Tesla. “The [Government of Ontario’s] asserted rationale for limiting the transition program to franchised dealerships is laden with factual assumptions that were susceptible to being proved or disproved with evidence,” Justice Myers wrote in the court’s decision. In other words, it acted arbitrarily and capriciously, just as Tesla alleged in its suit.

For would-be Tesla buyers, the court decision doesn’t do much to clarify whether they will get the rebate or not. Calvin Kimura tells the CBC he doesn’t know what to do about his Tesla order. “$14,000 isn’t a small sum of money. I’ve been trying to make my decisions accordingly and it’s getting tiresome. I just need to know if I’m going to get [a rebate] or not.”

Kimura said “it was a big shock” when he heard the government was cancelling the rebate program and providing a grace period for some but not others. “I felt really left out, especially because I knew every other manufacturer was allowed to give the rebate to their customers. I felt like I was being targeted.”

The Ford folks have yet to figure out how to respond to the court’s ruling. They can either honor it and include Tesla buyers in the grace period — which may or may not help recover some of those lost sales — or it can appeal the decision.

Either way, Ontario will continue its journey towards becoming another black hole of know-nothing ignorance when it comes to addressing climate change and promoting renewable energy. Doug Ford says his actions will save Ontario residents 10 cents a liter on gasoline. How will the people of Ontario respond when their grandchildren demand to know why they sold out the environment for 10 cents?

 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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