Unrepentant former firebomber will not be selling cars in Ontario

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Toronto, Ont. – An Ontario Superior Court of Justice has overturned a decision of the Ontario Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) that ordered the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) to grant a licence to a man convicted of firebombing New York State government offices and the car of a New State motor vehicle regulatory officer.

You can’t fault Robert Vernon for trying to get back into the car business after paying his debt to society.

Just four days after serving a five-year stretch in a U.S. prison for arson, he applied to OMVIC for a salesperson’s licence.

Problem was that Vernon, who operated two car dealerships in Buffalo at the time of the offence, made false statements in his licence application to OMVIC when it came to his past.

He also tried to excuse his crimes by claiming that the man he’d hired to do the arson misunderstood him. In other words, Vernon showed no remorse.

OMVIC denied Vernon a licence stating he had failed to meet the requirements under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act necessary for registration in Ontario.

Specifically, the registrar found Vernon had made a “false statement” on his application and “his past conduct afforded reasonable grounds for the belief that he would not carry out business in accordance with the law and with honesty and integrity.”

“This was an individual who’d been convicted and jailed for firebombing the offices and vehicle of a U.S. regulator and then tried to mislead OMVIC in order to gain registration here,” explained Mary Jane South, OMVIC registrar.

“There was no way in hell we thought this man was entitled to registration.”

So imagine OMVIC’s surprise when Vernon appealed the decision to the LAT, which ordered OMVIC to issue him a licence.

“We were alarmed by the LAT decision,” said South.

“While OMVIC protects consumers by investigating and prosecuting misconduct by registrants, the protection begins in the registration process by keeping people out of the industry who are not likely to abide by the rules. This decision was dangerous and we appealed it to the courts.”

In mid-January, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice overturned the LAT’s decision finding the “tribunal made errors in law with the result that its decision does not fall within a range of reasonable outcomes.”

The regulator said that, normally, on an appeal from an administrative tribunal, the matter is referred back to the tribunal for a new hearing.
 
However, in this case the court found no reason to send the matter back, as the “only reasonable conclusion is that Vernon is disentitled to registration due to the false information provided on his application and that, due to his past conduct, there was no reasonable grounds for the belief that he would conduct business in accordance with the law and with honesty and integrity.”

Michael Rothe, OMVIC director of legal services, applauded the ruling.

“Had the tribunal’s decision been allowed to stand, OMVIC’s ability to protect consumers by keeping out individuals who might prey on them would have been dramatically reduced.

“This is a good day for Ontario’s car buyers and the industry at large.”