Nova Scotia

N.S. Supreme Court hears from expert witness in Grabher licence plate case

An expert witness testified on Wednesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court that in her opinion, Lorne Grabher's licence plate would not provoke sexual violence.

Lorne Grabher has been fighting to use his vanity licence plate since 2016

Lorne Grabher's licence plate. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC)

An expert witness testified on Wednesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court that in her opinion, Lorne Grabher's licence plate would not provoke sexual violence.

Debra Soh is a sexual violence expert testifying on behalf of the defence.

Grabher is in court fighting to be allowed to once again use his vanity licence plate that bears his surname.

His "GRABHER" personalized licence plate was revoked by the province in 2016 because of one complaint that outlined how some individuals interpret the name as misogynistic and promoting violence against women.

In an examination of Soh's qualifications, the province's lawyer, Jack Townsend, argued that her background — which includes studying the psychology of sexual offenders and writing science columns — is not related to communication, language or feminist theory.

Debra Soh testified she wouldn't expect anyone to act in a sexually violent way after seeing the GRABHER plate unless they were already predisposed to such behaviour. (Jack Julian/CBC)

However, the judge ruled Soh's background is broad enough to qualify her as an expert in "human sexuality, sexual violence, and the impact of language and media on potential violent sexual offenders."

Her report goes on to say no psychologically sound person would be influenced to sexually offend after being exposed to language degrading to women.

Grabher is being represented by Jay Cameron, a lawyer with the Alberta-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a non-profit public interest law firm.

The centre is a socially conservative advocacy group that fights freedom of expression cases in Canada.

It paid for a billboard on Barrington Street near the Halifax Shipyard in support of Grabher's case.

The billboard looks like Grabher's licence Nova Scotia licence plate and went up on April 18. The centre said it would be up for a total of two weeks.

The Alberta-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms paid for a billboard on Barrington Street in Halifax in support of Lorne Grabher's case. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

"We decided to put up a billboard to raise public awareness about Mr. Grabher's case and the injustice that the government has perpetrated against him by removing his personal licence plate," the centre's president, John Carpay, told CBC News in a phone interview from Calgary.

Grabher said the licence plate was in his family for 27 years. He originally bought it for a birthday gift for his father, but after his father died in the 1990s, the plate stayed in the family.

CBC reporter Jack Julian is live tweeting from the trial.

About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.

With files from Jack Julian