The lawyers for a Nova Scotia man battling the revocation of a vanity licence plate bearing his last name have installed two billboards with “GRABHER” in giant letters as they take the case to the province’s top court.

Lorne Grabher had his licence plate revoked in 2016 following an anonymous complaint to the Nova Scotia Registrar of Motor Vehicles. He has been fighting to have it reinstated ever since.

Grabher is scheduled to finally have a resolution in the matter when the case is heard before the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, beginning on Wednesday. In the meantime, his legal team has installed two billboards in the Halifaxarea to drum up support for Grabher’s argument.

"We want to educate people about free expression rights,” John Carpay, one of Grabher’s lawyers with the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms,  told CTV Atlantic. “The important thing to understand is that your right to express your ideas, opinions (and) beliefs and my right to express my ideas and beliefs, should outweigh somebody else's right not to feel offended.”

The billboards, one in Halifax and the other in nearby Dartmouth, are a depiction of the revoked licence plate, with the traditional Bluenose in the background and “GRABHER” in the foreground. The top of the billboard reads “Support Lorne Grabher,” with a link to more information on his case below.

While Grabher is declining interviews until after the matter is resolved, Carpay said this case has large implications, regardless of its trivial nature.

"If you don't fight these relatively small battles, then freedom starts to retreat bit by bit, so we want to go to bat for this,” he said.


Grabher is not the only person to fight for potentially-offensive vanity plates.

In February, Dave Assman of Saskatchewan had a plate bearing his last name rejected, so he decided to cover the entire rear-end of his truck with an enlarged decal version of the plate.

More recently, a Star Trek fan in Manitoba took Manitoba Public Insurance to court after his “ASIMIL8” vanity plate was revoked.

A lawyer representing the province argued that the word is too closely aligned with the history of forced assimilation of Indigenous people in Manitoba. The court has yet to issue a decision in the case.