US & Canada

Canadian driver fights to keep 'Grabher' registration plate

The Nova Scotia government told Lorne Grabher that his name was too offensive to put on a license plate. Image copyright Yvonne Colbert/CBC

A Canadian man whose surname was deemed too offensive for his personalised car registration plate says it is a case of "bureaucratic hypocrisy".

Lorne Grabher argues in a recently filed affidavit that there are plenty of potentially offensive signs and place names dotted across Canada.

Those include Crotch Lake (in Ontario) and Dildo (in Newfoundland).

Mr Grabher's personalised plate was cancelled because it could be seen as a "socially unacceptable slogan".

The Nova Scotia man is taking the province's motor vehicle registrar to court after a request to reinstate the plate was denied.

In the affidavit filed with Nova Scotia's Supreme Court this month, Mr Grabher also singled out recent ads placed on transit buses in the city of Halifax by municipal water services.

The slogans in those ads include the slogans "Powerful sh*t" and "Our minds are in the gutter".

The ads are not meant to offend but to raise awareness of the importance of the full water cycle, according to a Halifax Water representative.

Mr Grabher's registration plate was cancelled in January after the office of the registrar received a complaint. It had been in use for 27 years.

The office said the personalised plate with the last name "Grabher" could be misinterpreted by the public.

Mr Grabher says that his surname is of Austrian-German heritage.

The personalised plate has been used by three generations of his family, including by his son who lives in another province.

"We are proud of our surname, which tells a story about both our past and our present," he says in the affidavit.

"We are not ashamed of our immigrant background or our role in Canadian society."

Mr Grabher has said he thinks he is being punished for President Donald Trump's obscene language.

During the American election, a video surfaced of then-candidate Mr Trump saying the words "grab them by the pussy".

Nova Scotia's licence plate regulations allow the province to refuse names deemed to be offensive or in poor taste.

The province currently bans about 3,100 names.

The case is scheduled to be heard next fall.

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