Grabher takes legal action to reinstate name on personalized licence plate
Alison Auld, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Monday, May 15, 2017 9:59AM ADT
Last Updated Monday, May 15, 2017 2:49PM ADT
HALIFAX -- A Nova Scotia man is going to court to try to have his last name -- Grabher -- reinstated on a personalized licence plate, arguing the removal violates his Charter rights despite at least one complaint that it is offensive to women.
Lawyers for Lorne Grabher filed a notice of application with the provincial Supreme Court seeking to overturn a decision by the Nova Scotia Registrar of Motor Vehicles to cancel the plate, which had been used by the family for 27 years.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is handling the case and states in the document that the revocation of the plate strips Grabher of his Charter rights to free expression.
"Grabher and his family were, and remain, deeply offended and humiliated by the cancellation of the plate," states the filing, dated May 11. "(It) not only infringed Mr. Grabher's right to express himself through the plate, but discriminated against Mr. Grabher."
The court filings say the name is a point of pride for the family and its Austrian-German heritage, adding that Grabher's son has used a similar personalized plate in Alberta without question.
The case developed after the registrar said it received a complaint last December over the name and how it could be considered a "socially unacceptable slogan," according to the court document.
Grabher has said he put his last name on the licence plate decades ago as a gift for his late father's birthday.
The Transportation Department has said that while it understands Grabher is a surname with German roots, that context isn't available to the general public who view it. In addition, there was a complaint from a woman last October who said she regarded the plate as being hateful towards women.
The personalized plate program introduced in 1989 allows the province to refuse names when they're deemed offensive, socially unacceptable and not in good taste.
A department spokesman said the rejection of Grabher's licence wasn't related to obscene comments made by Donald Trump in 2005 and released during last fall's U.S. presidential campaign, in which Trump said he grabbed women by the genitals.
Grabher's lawyers are seeking a declaration that cancelling his plates infringes on his rights, an order to reissue the plate and the provision of associated costs.