Prime minister's jet goes from gunmetal to red, white and blue

OTTAWA – Up, up and away … with the gunmetal grey.

The decidedly drab military Airbus that ferries Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other dignitaries around the globe has been spruced up with a shiny new paint job.

But critics say the new-look jet is a little too Conservative for their liking.

Gone is the military grey that made the Canadian plane the ugly duckling when it was parked on the tarmac next to the brightly hued jets of other world leaders.

The Airbus now features a bright red, white and blue colour scheme and the Canadian flag, coat of arms and the insignia of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

But the NDP says a strip of Tory-blue paint makes the Airbus look like a flying advertisement for the Conservative party.

“I think it’s the most shameless, blatant, partisan — it’s like having a flying Conservative party campaign sign, for God’s sakes,” sputtered New Democrat MP Pat Martin.

“I mean how would people like it if when the NDP forms a government we paint the prime minister’s plane orange, our party colours? I mean if you’re going to paint the country’s plane anything, you paint it the colours of the flag. I mean by an unfortunate coincidence those happen to be the Liberal party’s colours but so be it. That’s what we’re stuck with. That’s about all I have to say on that.”

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair promised he wouldn’t paint the Airbus orange if his party one day forms government.

The prime minister’s spokesman, Andrew MacDougall, says the paint job is part of the regular maintenance the plane undergoes every six years.

MacDougall says the new colour scheme cost an extra $50,000.