Grabher licence plate case back in Halifax court February 1

Lorne Grabher, whose personalized ‘GRABHER’ licence plate was deemed “socially unacceptable” by the Nova Scotia Registrar of Motor Vehicles (Registrar), will be in Halifax at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for a hearing pertaining to the case Lorne Grabher v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles. The court will hear Mr. Grabher’s motion to strike the affidavit and “expert” report of Professor Carrie A. Rentschler submitted by the Crown, as well as a Crown motion to be heard on the same date.

The motions will be heard on February 1, 2018, at 9:30 AM at the Law Courts, 1815 Upper Water Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia and are expected to proceed the full day. This hearing is open to the public.

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.

Mr. Grabher’s Motion notes that the report claims the Plate is an “act of violence”, supports violence against women, “endangers women”, and encourages rape culture.

Background Facts

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, calling 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, necessitating a court action.

Mr. Grabher notes in his Affidavit that he and his family “are proud of our Austrian-German heritage, and are proud of the immigrant history of our family…We are not ashamed of our immigrant background or our role in Canadian society.”  He further notes:

For 27 years the [Registrar] renewed the Plate. My last name has not changed. The Respondent never once informed me when I was renewing my Plate that my last name was objectionable. The idea that my name was appropriate for 27 years, but is suddenly inappropriate today because one anonymous person says so, is ridiculous.