A Nova Scotia pensioner's legal battle to keep his personalized licence plate has reached its conclusion after the Court of Appeal finally rejected Lorne Grabher's right to register his surname on his vanity plate.
The Court of Appeal issued a unanimous ruling, siding with the trial judge, Justice Darlene Jamieson, who ruled in the province's Supreme Court in 2019 that Grabher's vanity plate was not protected under freedom of expression.
Justice Jamieson's decision relied on a report by Carrie Rentschler, a professor of “feminist media studies” at McGill.
Rentschler's report suggested that “exposure to cultural slogans normalizes sexual violence against women”. Despite Grabher being a surname and not a slogan, Rentschler stated that the plate “creates an elevated risk of rape.”
The report even classified Lorne's surname as a “statement in support of physical violence against women."
Lorne's “GRABHER” plate has been in use since the early 1990s without an issue.
Jay Cameron, Litigation Director at the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms and counsel for Lorne, stated that “Freedom of expression is under assault across the nation, and Mr. Grabher’s case is a microcosm of the oppressive and irrational censorship in our society today. Mr. Grabher is disappointed with today’s ruling. We are reviewing the decision.”
Court action was initially launched by the JCCF on behalf of Grabher in May 2017 after a complaint was filed by an unidentified individual in October 2016.