04/09/2013 11:58 EDT | Updated 04/09/2013 12:22 EDT

Harper Conservatives Deny They Wanted GO Trains To Turn Blue In Promo Photo (PHOTO)

CP/Department of Finance

The Harper government again denies that it is trying to make Canadians see the world through shades of Tory blue.

But it seems that a photograph of an Ontario commuter train that appears in documents promoting the federal budget and on the Department of Finance website has indeed been changed from green to Conservative party colours.

The design and number of the locomotive in the photo matches a real Bombardier GO Train, but the logo has been removed and the distinctive green has been electronically changed, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

A spokesperson for the Department of Finance told The Citizen that it did not order the Photoshopped image and that the advertising agency behind the campaign was responsible for the colour scheme.

Tories have been accused in the past of subtly promoting themselves on government websites.

In 2009, more than 30 photos of Stephen Harper were removed from a site set up to promote the Tory action plan after critics complained it looked like a partisan campaign.

The train story also comes on the heels of a controversial colour change to Harper’s airplane.

HuffPost Canada's Althia Raj reported in February that the grey Polaris CC-150 military aircraft used by Canadian prime ministers would be painted red, white and blue, at a cost to taxpayers of an additional $50,000.

Last year, Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett told HuffPost she was concerned about “subliminal messaging” on government websites, where the colour blue is seemingly everywhere these days.

But it doesn’t stop there, she said.

“They have gotten rid of all the red and green lights at Christmas time and we have blue and orange lights. What’s with blue and orange Christmas lights all over Parliament Hill?,” she asked. “There has been a serious effort in rebranding Canada blue.”

Conservatives have also faced scrutiny for rebranding the government of Canada as the “Harper Government” in news releases, a practice that some have deemed overly partisan.

The marketing strategy led to an embarrassing incident in late March when a news release from the Atlantic Opportunities Agency briefly rebranded the nation “Harper Canada.”


It was promptly changed to read “Harper government.”

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