A Manitoba driver is being asked to give up the “ASIMIL8” sci-fi-inspired plates on his SUV by the province’s vehicle licencing body because the phrase was deemed offensive to indigenous people.
According to a CTV News report, Nick Troller has been contacted twice by Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) – once by phone and then with a letter – telling him that two other drivers complained they found the plate insensitive.
While it may seem so at first glance, Troller’s plate is mounted in a Star Trek-themed frame that serves as the fine print of sorts, reading, “We are the borg; Resistance is futile,” a famous quote from the science fiction movie franchise that often also includes the phrase, “You will be assimilated.”
Ry Moran of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation told CTV he agrees with the province’s assessment, suggesting words like “(assimilate) have an actual impact on many people.”
Moran’s organization was created by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is seeking to repair relations between Canada and its indigenous peoples in the aftermath of the residential school system that forcibly removed indigenous children from their families in an effort to integrate them into Canadian society.
Troller doesn’t see it that way, claiming people have “become way too sensitive. You can’t say anything anymore to anybody.”
His case comes not long after Nova Scotia vehicle licencing authority told a Dartmouth man his plate was being revoked because it bears his family name: GRABHER.
Both men can probably indirectly blame their troubles on U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been accused of both sexism and racism in the months before and after his election to the White House.
All Canadian jurisdictions place limitations of some sort on what can appear on a personalized licence plate; MPI says plates “cannot contain a slogan that could be considered offensive.”
But free speech advocates, such as the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, point to the Troller and Grabher cases as a sign “Canadians are becoming … less tolerant of free expression.”
(via CTV News)