Rod Kletchko of Regina, Saskatchewan has 30 days to return his “MAGAUSA” vanity plate after the plate was unapproved by the Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI).
“Are we not supposed to be an open society with freedom of expression and free speech? And now I have to sell my soul, my integrity, for 30 pieces of silver,” said Kletchko.
The decision by the SGI is due to a policy which was overlooked during the initial approval of the plate, which states that certain slogans, including political slogans like MAGA USA, cannot be used.
“It’s important to us that we stay politically neutral, understanding that politics of any sort can be quite divisive in the community. So our objective is to maintain neutrality,” said J.P. Cullen, SGI’s VP of Licensing, Customer and Vehicle Services during a phone interview.
Cullen says he’s also annoyed over the “inconvenience that we’ve caused this gentleman,” adding that the license plate was approved “in error.” Cullen says he wasn’t made aware of the mistake until the company had received multiple complaints.
“He can use a bumper sticker, he can shrink-wrap his car, he can do all sorts of things. But the fact remains that the licence plate is Crown property, and we don’t allow political slogans on that property,” said Cullen.
Kletchko, having never received condemnation over the plate in person, said he’s baffled that anyone would take offence over something so minor.
“Anything could be a political slogan,” he said. “I mean, if you assume that a licence plate means something because you choose to assume that, that’s up to you. I mean, if you choose to be offended, I’m offended that you’re choosing to be offended.
Kletchko understands that the plate is technically property of the Saskatchewan government, but feels torn nonetheless due to the censorious nature of the decision to unapproved the pro-Trump slogan.
“I feel that my integrity is at stake here,” says Kletchko. “So if I capitulate, how good is that for me when I tell everybody to fight for the right of free speech?”
According to Regina Leader Post, he hasn’t decided whether he’ll give up the license plate.
“I’m going to think about it. I’m going to see what I should do and what I shouldn’t do. But in giving the plate back for 30 pieces of silver, that goes against every bit of freedom of choice and freedom of speech that I hold dear.”
According to CTV News, SGI says they will reimburse Kletchko for the cost of the plate which shouldn’t have been issued in the first place, as well as issuing him a new plate free of charge. However, if Kletchko does not turn in his plate, the SGI can cancel his registration.
“MAGA at the time the application was made, might have had a different meaning for that customer.” Cullens said. “It’s really clear to us based on the information provided that this did have an association to a political connotation.”