Daniel D’Aloisio from Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada, says he’s being “strong armed” by the government to change his personalised licence plate, which reads VI6SIX. Late last month, the 42-year-old received a letter from the Ministry of Transportation notifying him he has 30 days to turn in the offending tag or face cancellation because it’s considered inappropriate under the ministry’s “Religion” criteria. “Any combination that could be perceived by the general public as religious subject matter, messaging or meaning is not permitted,” reads the letter, presumably connecting the figures on the plate to 666, the “number of the beast” as described in the Bible’s Book of Revelation. But according to D’Aloisio, nothing could be further from the truth. He said he had the plate punched 15 years ago as a memorial to his father, who died of cancer, and their shared love of hockey.
He said he never had a problem with the custom tag until this March, when he opened a letter from ServiceOntario informing him that the Ministry of Transportation had received a complaint about his plate and that it was under review.
“Since licence plates are the property of the Crown and are issued by the ministry, and they are constantly in the public eye, the ministry must avoid giving the impression that it is prepared to offend some people at the request of others,” reads the letter signed by Joy Armstrong, manager of products and services office for ServiceOntario.
D’Aloisio was invited to submit a written explanation of his choice, which he readily did, hoping the government would understand.
“It was a combination of what I wanted to say about Mario Lemieux, the six Stanley Cups I shared with my dad and all the people in my family,” he said.
D’Aloisio said he spent a lot of time deciding what characters to include on the plate, explaining that he and his dad were big fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins centre and that they had watched the Montreal Canadiens win six Stanley Cups before his dad died.
He said VI is short for “vie,” which means life in French, and added that years ago, when he picked out the plate, he intentionally kept it to six figures because there were six members in his family.
He says he’s been questioned about the vanity plate over the years, but added he’s always happy to explain the symbolism when asked.
“I even got pulled over and a cop asked me about it, and I explained about Lemieux coming back from cancer and the Stanley Cups. He actually said, ‘Oh, hey, that’s a cool plate, man,’” said D’Aloisio.
On April 27, D’Aloisio received another letter from the Ministry of Transportation informing him that his explanation had been considered but rejected.
He was told to turn in his plates.
“I’m Roman Catholic myself, I go to church, I was married in a church, my son was baptised in a church,” he said, explaining that he in no way worships the devil. “Every day I wear a crucifix on my neck that was my dad’s before he died.”
Anne-Marie Flanagan, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, said recalling plates is a “very complicated” process.
“Each complaint is reviewed by the Personalized Licence Plate Review Committee, and that’s comprised of multiple levels of reviewers,” she said. “Each level must vote in favour of recalling the plate in order for the complaint to be escalated to the next level.”
Factors including government criteria and past decisions are considered before a plate is recalled, she added.
Flanagan said only one written complaint is needed to launch the recall process but added that in this case, the ministry may have a potential, personalised solution.
“We have an alternate licence plate combination that we think would meet the customer’s rationale and also meet the established criteria for combinations.”
But D’Aloisio said he’d rather pay for a new plate and hang his custom tag up in the garage than change something that means so much to him.
“I’m not a young punk trying to rebel. It’s just a memorial,” he said. “I don’t want trouble. The plate is just something I worked hard on, so this has been disheartening.”