Thousands of licence plates have been blacklisted in Canada for reasons ranging from sexual language and derogatory slang to political opinion and reference to drugs and alcohol.
A Nova Scotia man is set to take the provincial government to court over over his licence plate in the culmination of a battle that has lasted nearly a year.
Earlier this year, Lorne Grabher told media he felt attacked after the Nova Scotia Registry of Motor Vehicles revoked his eponymous licence plate. The registry said it had received a single complaint stating the licence plate bore a socially unacceptable slogan, possibly hearkening back to when Donald Trump made comments to a television host about groping women.
Rather than smoothing things over, the explanation left Grabher feeling embarrassed about the interpretation of his family name.
“Donald Trump is a totally different person,” he told CBC. “He’s ignorant. He doesn’t care about anybody and I shouldn’t be put in a class like him.”
He’s preparing to challenge the decision in court in 2018, and recently filed an affidavit in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court calling the government’s decision to pull his plate “glaringly arbitrary and hypocritical.” He argued that there are places in Canada with names like Swastika and Crotch Lake that could be considered offensive.
“I am dismayed that some anonymous, misinformed, overly sensitive individual, hiding behind their anonymity, can dictate to an entire province that my good name is suddenly an ‘offensive slogan,'” he said in the affidavit, “when it has never before been any such thing, nor is it today.”
Provincial ministries across Canada routinely deny personalized licence plate applications because the plate messages are deemed socially unacceptable or offensive. Plates that reference religion, political opinions, slurs, insults, violence, drugs or alcohol rarely make the cut.
Sometimes, as in Grabher’s case, a plate might pass the initial vetting and be in use for years before a complaint prompts authorities to order its removal.
“Canada is not a country where a person gets to be ‘offended’ at everything,” Grabher’s affidavit continued. “Canadians who complain to the government about every little thing should be politely but firmly informed that we live in a cultural mosaic that respects individual freedoms.”