Lorne Grabher v Nova Scotia Registrar of Motor Vehicles

Posted on Apr 6, 2017 in Columns, Latest Updates

In an effort to raise awareness about this case, and to support our legal defence of Mr. Grabher, the Justice Centre is selling ‘GRABHER’ bumper stickers. Buy your sticker and show your support for free speech, today!

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca) has filed a court application against the Nova Scotia Registrar of Motor Vehicles (the “Registrar”) after it refused to reinstate the personalized licence plate of Dartmouth, NS pensioner Lorne Grabher, whose surname was deemed too “socially unacceptable” for the road.

Lorne Grabher 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 Office of 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”.

The Justice Centre wrote to the Registrar on March 31, 2017. 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.” The letter advised the Registrar to reinstate the plate or face further legal action. The Registrar responded on April 6, 2017, indicating that it would not voluntarily reinstate Mr. Grabher’s plate.

On behalf of Mr. Grabher, the Justice Centre filed a Notice of Application with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on May 11, 2017. A substantive hearing date is scheduled for April 24, 2019. On February 1, 2018, the court heard Mr. Grabher’s motion to strike the affidavit and “expert” report of Professor Carrie A. Rentschler submitted by the Crown, which cost the Nova Scotia government $15,800 to commission. Mr. Grabher’s motion notes that the expert report is not impartial, objective or relevant, and improperly asserts legal opinions when the author, Professor Rentschler, has no apparent legal training and is unqualified to advance legal opinions as an expert in this case. Mr. Grabher notes that the report relies heavily on US media coverage of comments made by the celebrity figure, Donald Trump in 2005 prior to becoming President of the USA, all of which is irrelevant to the matter at hand, as the Registrar has publicly stated that its decision to revoke the plate had nothing to do with these comments. Judgment on this motion is reserved.

Read more updates about this case here.

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