New Paint Criticized on Canadian Plane
A new paint job on a government airplane is sticking Canada’s taxpayers with a $50,000 bill and leaving them seeing red, white and blue.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Airbus, a Polaris CC-150, underwent its scheduled service, resurfacing with a new paint job that cost about $50,000 more than leaving it with its previous gray color, the National Defence Department said in a statement on Friday (June 7).
The design is "mainly arctic white, with an ocean blue underbelly, and a thin, maple leaf red, wavy line above the ocean blue." Symbols painted on the plane include the National Flag, Canada's Coat of Arms, and the Royal Canadian Air Force logo.
Printed above the passenger windows are the words: "Government of Canada, Gouvernement du Canada." Phrases from the national anthem appear under the cockpit window.
The Airbus went in for servicing in February and was scheduled to be repainted no matter what the new design would be. The 30-year-old aircraft is used to transport the prime minister, Governor General, and other dignitaries.
"This was part of the regular heavy maintenance which is done every six years, where they basically strip apart the entire plane and put it back together," Andrew MacDougall, Harper's director of communications, told The Star.
However, the new colors are stirring up a bit of controversy, and not just because of the price tag.
New Democratic Party Leader Thomas Mulcair said the new colors reflect the Conservative Party.
"I don't think we've ever seen a government in Canadian history that has so readily blurred the lines between government money and party money," Mulcair told reporters.
"The colours of the plane, the whole detailing is clearly patterned on the Conservative party," he said.
But the National Defence Department said the redesign is a nod to military aircraft of the 1960s and 70s. The previous fleet, the CC-137 Boeing 707, was painted in a similar scheme. The fleet was retired in the summer of 1997.
|Royal Canadian Air Force|
The National Defence Department says the new paint job pays tribute to a previous fleet (foreground). Since that fleet was retired, the plain gray Polaris (background) has been used.
"Given this aircraft's special role on the world stage as a symbol of Canada, the requirement to repaint the aircraft presented an opportunity for a paint scheme that better reflects our country," the National Defence said.
The department also said the new paint is consistent with aircraft used in similar roles by allied countries.
The designer, Royal Canadian Air Force's graphic designer Jim Belliveau, warned government officials that the cost of the paint would be substantial.
"FYI, there is about a 400 dollar price difference PER GALLON in the cost of red paint versus the cheaper blue. Yellow or orange are up there too," he warned, according to documents released under Access to Information, the Huffington Post reported.
The aircraft was painted at Dean Baldwin Aircraft Painting, LP in New Mexico because Canadian suppliers were either unavailable or did not have the capability to paint an aircraft as large as the CC-150 Polaris, the National Defence said.
Harper will use the plane when he travels to London, Paris, and Dublin from June 11-17 before heading to Northern Ireland to participate in the G-8 Summit on June 17-18.