407 ETR Concession Company Limited v. Superintendent of Bankruptcy

(Ontario) (Civil) (By Leave)




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Constitutional Law - Federal paramountcy - Ontario’s Registrar of Motor Vehicles shall refuse to validate or issue a person’s motor vehicle permit upon receipt of notice that the person has not paid toll, fees or interest owing for use of privately-owned toll highway - Whether enforcement power can be applied to a debt owed to owner of highway that was discharged in bankruptcy proceedings - Whether purpose or merits of a provincial law are relevant to determining whether provincial law conflicts with federal law - Whether Court of Appeal defined scope and purpose of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act overly broadly - Whether Parliament may compel provinces to issue provincial licences and permits to discharged bankrupts - Highway 407 Act, 1998, S.O. 1998, c.28, s. 22(4), Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. B-3.

Matthew Moore owed the appellant debt for use of its toll highway. Pursuant to the appellant’s enforcement powers under s. 22(4) of the Highway 407 Act, 1998, S.O. 1998, c. 28, it notified Ontario’s Registrar of Motor Vehicles of the debt and the Registrar refused to validate vehicle permits for Mr. Moore’s two vehicles or to issue a permit to him. Mr. Moore obtained an absolute discharge from bankruptcy that included the debt he owed to the appellant. Despite the discharge, the appellant asserted that he remained indebted and the Registrar continued to refuse to issue permits. Mr. Moore applied to the Ontario Superior Court for a declaration that his debt was discharged and for mandamus directing the Registrar to validate his permits. After the Ontario Superior Court dismissed his motion, he settled with the appellant. The Superintendent in Bankruptcy was granted leave to appeal.

Lower Court Rulings

October 25, 2011
Ontario Superior Court of Justice

32-1012776, 2011 ONSC 6310
Order to set aside Registrar in Bankruptcy’s decision
December 19, 2013
Court of Appeal for Ontario

C54560, 2013 ONCA 769
Appeal allowed