Nova Scotia invites court action by refusing to reinstate Grabher licence plate

Posted on Apr 6, 2017 in Justice Update, Latest Updates

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms received written confirmation today from the Nova Scotia Registrar of Motor Vehicles (the “Registrar”) that it will not reinstate the personalized licence plate of Dartmouth resident Lorne Grabher.

The Justice Centre has confirmed it will proceed to file a court application for judicial review of the Registrar’s decision, to defend the constitutional freedom of Mr. Grabher.  This court application will be filed after Easter Monday, April 17.

Lorne Grabher, of Dartmouth, NS, first purchased the personalized license plate as a gift for his late father in 1991.  It has since become a source of family pride, spanning three generations – Grabher’s son has the family name on his own personalized Alberta license plate.

Mr. Grabher received a letter dated December 9, 2016, from the Registrar of Motor Vehicles which stated that a complaint had been received regarding his personalized license plate. As a result of the complaint, the Registrar decided to cancel Mr. Grabher’s plate, despite acknowledging it was an explicit reference to Mr. Grabher’s surname. The reason provided for the cancellation was that the plate could be “misinterpreted” as a “socially unacceptable slogan”.

Mr. Grabher responded to the Registrar on December 19, 2016, and reminded the Registrar that the license plate had been used by three generations of his family, for over 20 years. Each successive year the plate was renewed, without incident.

The Justice Centre wrote to the Registrar on March 31, 2017, requesting that it reinstate the personalized license plate of Lorne Grabher, whose surname was deemed too “socially unacceptable” for the road. “If by April 6, 2017, you have not provided us with written confirmation evidencing your commitment to reinstating the license plate, our client will have no choice but to take further steps to assert his legal rights,” concludes the letter.

In its letter, the Justice Centre calls out the Registrar’s decision as “discriminatory,” “arbitrary,” “unreasonable” and in violation of free expression as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It further states that the decision is “an affront to the dignity of Canadians, and particularly those Canadians who are not of Anglo-Saxon descent.”

“It’s unfortunate that the Nova Scotia government is leaving Mr. Grabher with no alternative but to assert his legal rights in court, ” stated lawyer and Justice Centre president John Carpay.


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