HALIFAX: Lorne Grabher, whose personalized GRABHER licence plate was deemed “socially unacceptable” by the Nova Scotia Registrar of Motor Vehicles, will be in court on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 for the latest sally in Lorne Grabher v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles.
The hearing will take place at 2:00 p.m. in the Law Courts of Nova Scotia, 1815 Upper Water Street, Halifax, in courtroom 702. Recent case developments include the filing of Mr. Grabher’s Affidavit and his intention to challenge the constitutionality of the Motor Vehicle Act’s Regulations, which Nova Scotia relies on to justify the removal of the Plate.
Lorne Grabher first purchased the personalized license plate as a gift for his late father in or around 1990. It became an expression of family pride spanning three generations – Mr. Grabher’s son has the family name on his own personalized license plate in another province. Mr. Grabher testifies in his Affidavit that his son has never had difficulty renewing his 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 licence plate, and consequently that the Registrar was cancelling it. 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 advised the Registrar to reinstate the plate or face further legal action. The Registrar refused to voluntarily reinstate Mr. Grabher’s plate.
In his Affidavit filed recently with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Lorne Grabher notes the hypocrisy involved in the removal of his personalized licence plate, explaining that his name was neither offensive nor “socially unacceptable” to the government while working as a prison guard:
Every single work day my last name was prominently displayed on my uniform with the Department of Corrections. The Province never once informed me in all my time working for it that my last name was a “socially unacceptable slogan.” I was never told to cover my name up because it might “offend” someone. I am profoundly insulted and humiliated to be now informed that my good name is an offence. The unequal treatment I’ve been subjected to in regard to my name by the Province is discriminatory. It is the height of bureaucratic hypocrisy.
As Lorne Grabher notes in his affidavit, the decision of the Registrar to revoke his plate has drawn widespread international attention and condemnation:
I have been called on the phone by persons with the same last name from diverse parts of Austria and Germany who have heard of the discriminatory actions of the [Registrar] in cancelling the Plate. These persons who have contacted me have been outraged that the Province of Nova Scotia has taken it upon itself to decide that our surname is “offensive.”