A Canadian non−profit legal organization is intervening on behalf of a "Star Trek" fan fighting to use a personalized licence plate deemed offensive by Manitoba Public Insurance.
Nick Troller’s licence plate with the text “ASIMIL8” was confiscated by MPI in April after the Crown corporation received complaints from two Indigenous people about its reference to the word “assimilate.”
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms says MPI’s decision violates Troller’s freedom of expression.
The organization’s founder, John Carpay, tells CTV News that whenever there’s a conflict between the right to express oneself and the right not to be offended, "government ought to come down on the side of free expression.”
The justice centre says it will be filing paperwork to bring the case to court after the MPI refused their request to return Troller’s licence plate.
Troller says his licence plate refers to the catchphrase "you will be assimilated" that is used on "Star Trek Next Generation" by the villainous aliens called the Borg.
The plate had been held within a licence frame that also bore the quotes: "We are the Borg,’’ and "Resistance is Futile.’’
According to MPI’s policy, licence plates can’t contain words, phrases or innuendoes that “may be considered offensive” as the plates are the property of the Crown.
Ry Moran, from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, has said the word ``assimilate’’ is too offensive to be on a licence plate as Indigenous peoples have been forcibly assimilated throughout Canada’s history.
Troller’s case has drawn comparisons to another legal battle over a personalized licence plate in Nova Scotia.
Lorne Grabher had his plate with the text “GRABHER,” his last name, revoked after it was deemed offensive to women. The case attracted international headlines and is headed to court early next year thanks to the help of the justice centre.