Nova Scotia

Grabher asked to remove licence plate — again

Lorne Grabher says he received a call from police Monday after a complaint was lodged against the personalized Alberta licence plate he had on the front of his car.

Lorne Grabher said a complaint was lodged against an Alberta plate on the front of his car

Lorne Grabher says he received a call from police Monday after a complaint was lodged against the personalized Alberta licence plate he had on the front of his car. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC)

A Nova Scotia man fighting to have his last name — Grabher — reinstated on a licence plate says police have now forced him to remove an inactive Alberta plate from the front of his car.

Lorne Grabher said he received a call from police Monday after a complaint was lodged against the personalized Alberta licence plate he had on the front of his car.

Nova Scotia requires only one valid plate, at the rear, and drivers in the province often place inactive or novelty plates on the front of their vehicles.

The Alberta plate had his last name on it in capitalized letters. His son, Troy, lives in Alberta and has a GRABHER licence plate. (Troy Grabher)

Grabher says police told him he would face a stiff penalty for driving with a fraudulent plate if he did not remove the Alberta plate, which had his last name on it in capitalized letters. Grabher's son, Troy, also has a GRABHER licence plate.

Grabher feels he's being unfairly targeted

The 69-year-old man said he feels he's being unfairly targeted.

"I've been red-flagged," he said from his Dartmouth home, noting the large number of vehicles in the province that have inactive out-of-province plates on the front.

He received international attention after the Registrar of Motor Vehicles revoked his personalized Nova Scotia plate bearing his last name, saying it was a "socially unacceptable slogan."

"The issue for me is where does anybody, especially the government, get the right to discriminate against somebody's name," he said. "The only place I can think of where they do stunts like that is if you live in a communist country."

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing Grabher, and says the revocation infringes on his constitutional rights.

The organization filed a notice of application with the provincial Supreme Court seeking to overturn the decision.

A hearing on the matter scheduled for provincial Supreme Court Wednesday was postponed to June 6 after a lawyer representing the province requested more time to "gather the names of witnesses" and "confirm instructions with my client."

'It's my last name'

Grabher called the legal dispute a waste of taxpayer dollars.

"It's my last name," he said. "We've had this licence plate in my family for 27 years."

Grabher said his last name is a point of pride for his family and its Austrian-German heritage.

In the early 1800s, Grabher's great-great-grandfather made the journey from Austria to the United States, part of a wave of settlers.

His grandfather then moved to Canada in 1890 and put down roots in Alberta.

Grabher said his father joined the army at the age of 17, during the Second World War, and was sent to Cape Breton, where his family settled.

He said revoking his personalized licence plate is foolish and offensive.

Grabher said he is now using an alphanumeric licence plate on the rear of his car, and has removed the old Alberta plate from the front as requested by police.

With files from CBC

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