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The centre is currently representing a Nova Scotia man named Lorne Grabher, whose GRABHER plate was revoked, in a case before the province’s Appeal Court.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

Courtenay volleyball star added to Olds College roster

Gracie Walls of Courtenay has been recruited to play on the women’s… Continue reading

Tofino woman’s plan for medical school nearly derailed by health crisis

Tofino resident/North Island College alumna Nora Morrison is heading to the University… Continue reading

NIC online marine training accessed by mariners across the country

NIC was among the first post-secondary schools to receive approval for digital marine courses

Sale of Vancouver Island’s most remote pub falls through

Beloved Holberg pub and restaurant The Scarlet Ibis is back with previous owner

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

North Island-Powell River MP blasts government, VAC for benefit delays

Some injured service men and women have applied for the Canada Emergency… Continue reading

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

Most Read