Nova Scotia

Lorne Grabher's licence plate dispute headed back to court

Lorne Grabher, a Nova Scotia man pursuing a long legal fight to display his personalized licence plate, GRABHER, has had lawyers from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms file an appeal in his case.

The appeal is the latest development in Grabher's legal battle to use a vanity plate

Lawyers for the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are filing an appeal in Lorne Grabher's fight to regain his Nova Scotia licence plate, GRABHER. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC)

Lawyers for the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are filing an appeal in Lorne Grabher's fight to regain his Nova Scotia licence plate, GRABHER.

The appeal documents say a judge was wrong to rule that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not protect freedom of expression on a licence plate.

Grabher successfully applied for the GRABHER plate for his father approximately 27 years ago as a celebration of his family name. 

The province's Registrar of Motor Vehicles revoked the plate in December 2016 following a single public complaint on the grounds it could be interpreted as a call to grab a woman without her consent. 

On January 31, 2020 Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Darlene Jamieson ruled that revoking the plate did not violate Grabher's free expression or equality rights. 

The lawyers cite eight other possible grounds for appeal, including the vagueness and arbitrariness of the registrar's decision power, and challenging the judge's determination that the plate promotes sexualized violence against women and is potentially harmful to the community. 

The appeal also claims the judge was wrong for not finding that suppressing Grabher's Austrian surname was an unjustified violation of his charter right to equality. 

Proposed remedies

The appeal documents ask the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to review and reverse Jamieson's decision. 

It asks for the court to strike down the regulation allowing the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to revoke a plate if it contains offensive or bad taste message "in the opinion of the Registrar."

It also asks the court to order the GRABHER plate to be reissued, and for Grabher to be awarded costs for both the original court challenge and the proposed appeal.

The justice centre is "a Canadian legal advocacy organization that defends citizens' fundamental freedoms under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," according to its website.

 

With files from Jack Julian

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