Regina man forced to hand over MAGA vanity plate
A Regina man is being forced to relinquish his MAGA licence plate after Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) told the driver they had issued the vanity plate in error.
Rod Kletchko applied for the MAGAUSA vanity plate in May, only to be told last week the Crown corporation shouldn't have issued the plate in the first place.
Speaking with CTV News Regina, Kletchko said he disagrees with SGI's decision because of what the plate means to him.
"To me it means freedom of expression, that’s what MAGAUSA means to me,” he said. “I have the right to express myself, I have the right to free speech and I think free speech is lacking in today's society."
The wording, “Make America Great Again, U.S.A,” is a nod to U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. Kletchko admits he is a Trump supporter and got the licence plate to annoy his friend who isn't a supporter.
“For some reason, she called me 'MAGA' so I thought maybe I’ll see if I could get that as a licence plate, you know just a little joke on her,” Kletchko said.
Admitting SGI made a mistake, the Crown corporation said licence plates are the Crown's property and it's in its policy that they are not to be used to send political messages.
"We really do have to look at our process so that we are scrutinizing these points a little bit more,” said spokesperson J.P. Cullens with SGI. “It’s a service that people like, it's a service that we want to continue to offer, at the end of the day no body needs a personalized licence plate."
Kletchko disagrees with SGI, noting that the plate isn't a political statement.
"It could mean a little cup of water, it could mean the East Indian God of strength and tranquility," he said.
Kletchko said he originally wanted the plate to read MAGA or MAGA1 but said he was told by SGI those plates were already in use. SGI said it has no plans to go after the motorists with those plates.
"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 as association to a political connotation."
Since receiving the call, Kletchko now has less than a month to turn in the plate or SGI could cancel his registration. SGI said it told Kletchco it would reimburse him the cost of the plate because it shouldn't have been issued in the first place. The Crown corporation will also issue him a new plate with no charge.
"I’m going to miss it." Kletchko said.