Quebec to permit personalized licence plates by the end of the month

After years of waiting, Quebecers will finally be able to advertise their name, passions or interests for all to see on the licence plate of their vehicles.

The Quebec government announced Tuesday that personalized plates will be available for purchase online as of July 27.

Transport Minister Andre Fortin told a news conference in Quebec City the message on the plates, a combination of numbers and letters ranging between two and seven characters, will have to be respectful and tasteful.

They will sell for $250 and renewal will cost drivers $34.50, which falls within the range charged elsewhere in Canada.

Most Canadian jurisdictions offer such plates with costs ranging from around $100 to about $340, according to publicly available information. 

It is also a widely available option in the United States.

Fortin cited a recent study by the province's automobile insurance board suggesting 40 per cent of drivers are interested in vanity plates.

The previous Parti Quebecois government first floated the idea in 2014 and it was supposed to come into effect in 2015, but it has been delayed until now.

Sylvain Gaudreault, the former PQ transport minister, said it's not surprising an announcement comes just three months before a provincial election in October.

"The government must explain to us why it has made Quebecers wait so long, if only to take advantage of the pre-election context,'' he said in a statement.

Fortin said the government wanted to make sure the process wasn't complicated for citizens "and that's exactly the case.''

The insurance board will verify the contents of the plate and they will arrive by mail within three to six weeks.

"Of course the (insurance board) will assure that all the combinations are appropriate and respectful of everyone,'' Fortin said.

Some of the options provided by the insurance board in its media campaign included "CAMPING,'' "STEEVE,'' "JAZZ,'' and "PITPIT.''

One of the most highly publicized cases involving a licence plate has played out in Nova Scotia in recent years after attempts by a man named Lorne Grabher to reinstate his personalized plate since it was revoked in 2016 by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles following an anonymous complaint.

The Nova Scotia government has to reimburse Grabher for a court skirmish over a report suggesting a licence plate bearing his family name supports sexual violence against women.

Grabher first purchased the plate as a gift for his late father around 1990. 

It then became an expression of family pride in their Austrian-German heritage.

His case will resume in early September, when he will make constitutional arguments against the registrar's regulations and its decision to revoke the plate.