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Nova Scotia man to appeal ruling against use of 'offensive' licence plate

A man is planning to file an appeal towards a court ruling that supported the province’s decision to deny his use of a personalized license plate.
Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta

A man in Nova Scotia is planning to file an appeal towards a court ruling that supported the province’s decision to deny him the use of a personalized license plate with his surname on it.

Lorne Grabher is claiming that his freedom has been infringed upon by the province but the Nova Scotia Supreme Court disagrees. The court noted that government-owned licence plates do not fall under his constitutionally protected rights.

Grabher owned his Nova Scotia plate for close to 30 years before it was revoked by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles in 2016. It was revoked by the agency after a woman complained that the plate showed hatred toward women.

It was decided by Justice Darlene Jamieson that licence plates do not count as “public spaces.”

Jamieson said that the plate was recalled by the registrar because it could be seen as socially unacceptable to some because the plate cannot provide further context.

“This decision is not about whether Mr. Grabher's surname is offensive -- it is not,” wrote Jamieson.

“The primary function of a licence plate is not expression but is identification and regulation of vehicle ownership. A licence plate by its very nature is a private government space.”

Grabher is supported by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms which is based in Calgary. The centre says that there is no existing evidence of a sexual assault ever being committed as a result of Grabher’s licence plate.

In a statement released on Monday, the centre said, “The plate is an expression of the Grabher's family pride over three generations, reflecting their German-Austrian roots and heritage.”

“There was no evidence that anyone, including the anonymous complainant, had suffered any harm as a result of the plate. There is no evidence that censoring Mr. Grabher's name after 27 years of use on a license plate makes anyone safer.”

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Sam Edwards
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