Tomas Manasek, 68, with his personalized licence plate. (The Canadian Press)

Alberta registrar reverses rejection, man gets to have ‘FREE AB’ licence plate

Am initial rejection letter said the plate didn’t fit within the department’s guideline

Tomas Manasek says he’s thrilled that his beliefs about Alberta independence didn’t end up costing him his personalized FREE AB licence plate.

Manasek, who is 68, has lived in Calgary for the last 35 years. He escaped from a repressive regime in Communist Czechoslovakia in 1977.

Now he’s won a battle to get a licence plate initially rejected by the Alberta Registrar of Motor Vehicles. A rejection letter said the plate didn’t fit within the department’s guidelines.

“They said it doesn’t fit with the guidelines of the program and that they have a right to refuse anything deemed inappropriate. I guess asking for freedom and democracy is deemed inappropriate,” Manasek said.

Manasek, an Alberta Independence Party candidate in last year’s provincial election, fought the ruling with help from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

“This plate is not offensive. It’s not vulgar, so I fail to see any reasons for the rejection,” he said Thursday as he held up his FREE AB licence plate under his chin at his home in southwest Calgary.

“My personal views shouldn’t make a difference. I think our democracy is strong enough to be generous. I’m entitled to my views and I am entitled to promote them.”

Anger over the reelection of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with frustration over delays in completing a pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia, sparked an uptick in western alienation sentiment last fall. Some called for Alberta to separate from the rest of Canada.

James Kitchen, a lawyer with the Justice Centre, said the reversal in the plate decision shows that in a free province like Alberta, FREE AB belongs on a licence plate.

“This is a pretty innocuous expression. Free expression is on this guy’s side,” he said.

Kitchen previously lost a court challenge against Manitoba Public Insurance, which had revoked the ASIMIL8 plate of an avid “Star Trek” fan because of a complaint that it was offensive to Indigenous people.

The Justice Centre won the case of a Manitoba Indigenous man, who wanted his NDN CAR plate returned.

The centre is currently representing a Nova Scotia man named Lorne Grabher, whose GRABHER plate was revoked, in a case before the province’s Appeal Court.

Kitchen said the FREE AB case doesn’t belong with the others.

“The other three all have something about them where people could say, ‘I could see why somebody could get upset about that,’” he said.

“This one? I mean how can you get upset about a free Alberta?”

Manasek was low key about his victory.

“I’m quite happy,” he said with a smile.

“I will celebrate when Alberta becomes a republic.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Input wanted on cannabis grow near Gardom Lake

A temporary use permit is being considered for a Capri Road property

Shuswap potter’s empty bowls help fill food bank

Mud, Sweat and Tears’ Bruce Nyeste expects project to raise $12,000 for Salmon Arm’s Second Harvest

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Morning Start: Naps could save your life

Your morning start for Wednesday, July 9, 2020

Columbia Shuswap Regional District warns ‘dock hogs’ to follow time limits

Boats have been moored for days in some cases at public boat launch docks

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Penticton photographer publishes book showcasing resilience of Okanagan people

Okanagan Strong showcases the bravery of many during crisis; from COVID-19, to floods, and fires

Summerland steam train to begin operations

Reduced schedule, physical distancing planned for Kettle Valley Steam Railway beginning July 18

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Kelowna woman shares story of alleged dog attack

Resident Yuli Lavigne alleges the incident happened on Monday, July 6

Conservation officers relocate Spirit Bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

Successful first week for Okanagan ride-sharing, service expansion underway

The service is expanding to Peachland, Lake Country, Penticton and Vernon by the end of July

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Summerland to hold meeting on solar project

Event on July 13 at 1 p.m. open to comments from the public

Most Read