Alberta man worries his 'GRABHER' licence plate could be cancelled after 'ridiculous' Nova Scotia ruling

An Edmonton driver is checking his rear-view mirror more often after a storm of controversy about his family name on a licence plate.

Father's personalized plate with family name cancelled in Nova Scotia after complaint

Troy Grabher holds his father's cancelled Nova Scotia licence plate next to his approved Alberta plate. (Submitted by Troy Grabher)

An Edmonton driver is checking his rear-view mirror more often after a storm of controversy about his family name on a licence plate.

Troy Grabher can't believe his dad's personalized plate was cancelled in Nova Scotia after someone there complained it was inappropriate.

The plate is simply the family name: GRABHER.

Lorne Grabher, who lives in Dartmouth, had been driving around with the plate for 25 years before the Nova Scotia Registry of Motor Vehicles decided to cancel it after receiving a single complaint.

According to the complaint, some people could interpret the name as misogynistic and promoting violence against women.

Lorne Grabher had this personalized licence plate for 25 years before Nova Scotia cancelled it. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC)

Troy got the same personalized plate when he moved to Alberta four years ago.

The name wasn't an issue at the time he applied for it.

But he's now concerned that media reports about the story, which he finds "ridiculous," could lead to a backlash in Alberta.

"If that person's mind is going to think it's something against women, that's their own fault," Troy said.

The plate means a lot to him because it's in honour of his grandfather Herman and his German roots.

He said the plate has turned heads, but has never been interpreted as promoting violence against women.

'Chuckles or laughs'

"Ninety-five per cent of the time it's chuckles or laughs, or they point at it and you can see them in the rear-view mirror taking pictures with their cellphones," he said.

Others who approach him to ask about the plate and why he chose it soften immediately when he explains it's simply his name, which he's proud of.

His father, Lorne, has joked he might now have to have his name removed from the phone book in Nova Scotia because somebody could be offended seeing it there, too.

"I thought it was super disrespectful of the government to even yank someone's last name," said Troy.

The story about his dad's plate has garnered international headlines, and Troy hopes the Nova Scotia motor vehicle registry will be prompted to reverse its decision.

The brouhaha got mentioned in the House of Commons Friday when Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen made a statement: "Let us nip this out-of-control political correctness in the bud," Viersen said, asking Canadians to consider the case as important for free speech.

Alberta has own set of rules 

Service Alberta has information on its website about what is and isn't allowed on personalized licence plates.

References to "human rights discrimination, political slurs, foul language, sexual references, political references, illegal activity, alcohol or controlled substances" can be rejected.

A section of the Traffic Safety Act also allows for the registrar of motor vehicle services to recall at any time any plate that is considered inappropriate.

Service Alberta isn't aware of any complaints about the Grabher plate in Alberta, a spokesperson said.