After 25 years, a Canadian man’s personal license plates were cancelled for being “socially unacceptable.” But what could be so publically offensive to warrant reprimanding by the Nova Scotia Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV)? His last name.
Lorne Grabher originally bought the customized “GRABHER” plates for his father as a birthday present in 1991. Since then, the plates have been passed down through three generations of Grabhers, without issue or interference from Canadian motor vehicle agencies—until now.
"I've never once had anybody come up to me and say they were offended," Grabher said. "They would look at it and say, 'Am I reading this right?' And I would go, 'Yes.' And they would go, 'Is this your last name?' And I would go, 'Yes.' And they would always just give a little chuckle."
There’s speculation, even by Grabher, that the recent cancellation of his plates has something to do with an audio tape that was leaked while now-U.S. President Donald Trump was running for office. On the tape, Trump tells a reporter (in much cruder language) that after becoming a “star,” you can do whatever you wish to any woman you like.
"Donald Trump is a totally different person. He's ignorant. He doesn't care about anybody and I shouldn't be put in a class like him," Grabher said.
Despite Grabher’s objection to being associated with President Trump, Brian Taylor, a spokesman for the Canadian Department of Transportation, claims there’s been recent backlash regarding Lorne’s plates.
“A complaint was received outlining how some individuals interpret [the name] as misogynistic and promoting violence against women,” Taylor said. “With no way to denote that it is a family name on the plate, the department determined it was in the public’s best interest to remove it from circulation.”
The Grabher family is not satisfied with this reasoning and will likely take legal action against the Nova Scotia RMV, according Grabher’s son, Troy, who also has a “GRABHER” license plate.
“I think he’s more or less looking just to get his plate back and to pretty much let the government know that this is something we’re not going to let go—he never wanted it to come to this,” Troy Grabher said about his father.
For now, Lorne is borrowing one of Troy’s Alberta “GRABHER” license plates to place on the front of his car.
“I’m proud of it and as far as I know in Nova Scotia we’re allowed to put whatever we want on the front of the car,” Lorne Grabher said.