Man rents billboards to take fight over licence plate to court of public opinion
The Nova Scotia man who's been battling the province over reinstating his personalized licence plate may finally get an answer this week.
Lorne Grabher lost the plate bearing his last name after someone complained, suggesting it supported sexualized violence against women.
A judge will hear the case in a couple of days, but in the meantime, it's being thrust into the court of public opinion -- in a very public way. Two billboards were recently erected by Lorne Grabher's lawyers: one along Barrington Street in Halifax and another on Main Street in Dartmouth.
If the name sounds familiar, it should; Grabher first made headlines nearly three years ago.
He had a personalized licence plate that was revoked by the Registry of Motor Vehicles after an anonymous complaint.
Now, his Calgary-based lawyer has taken the fight public.
“We want to educate people about free expression rights and the important thing to understand is that your right to express your ideas, opinions, beliefs and my right to express my ideas and beliefs, should outweigh somebody else's right not to feel offended,” said lawyer John Carpay.
It turns out another member of the Grabher family uses a similar plate in Alberta.
That's also where The Justice Centre For Constitutional Freedoms is based.
The group decided to take on Grabher's case and added the billboards as a way to bring attention to the ongoing legal battle.
“If you don't fight these relatively small battles, then freedom starts to retreat, bit by bit, so we want to go to bat for this,” Carpay said.
While the fight continues, it's debatable whether it’s grabbing the attention of Haligonians.
“I don't find it offensive,” said Barbara Lovelace.“It's his name and somebody's name is their name; it's pretty precious to them.”
“I understand that it could be taken offensive, but where it's someone's last name, that's nothing they can change,” said Dustin Carrington.
“It looks like 'grab her,' so it could obviously be misconstrued in the wrong way, which, it's obviously not meant in that way, or at least I hope it's not,” said Alex Torrealba.
It's a battle that's been waged before.
Dave Assman, for example, gained international attention earlier this year after he was denied a plate with his last name.
So, the Saskatchewan man found a work around by having his family name put on the back of his truck with a decal -- something that doubtless raises eyebrows wherever he goes.
“Just because it's my name, it's not slander, it's not a slogan, it's just a name,” Assman said.
As for Grabher, he's declining interviews until after his case is settled.
The matter is scheduled to go before a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge on Wednesday, where Grabher's lawyers say they will continue to make constitutional arguments about why the personalized plate should be allowed back on Grabher's vehicle -- and off the billboards.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Natasha Pace.