We “blue” it.
That’s the stunning admission from Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government about the defective double-blue licence plates, which will soon be consigned to the dustbin or survive as curios.
The Star has learned that a new white design will be unveiled within days to replace the government’s flawed Tory-blue plates that are illegible in some lighting conditions.
That means the revamped plate will more closely resemble the traditional white design in place since 1973, though they will not have the raised letters and numbers that are prone to peeling.
The new white plate will use the slogan, “A Place To Grow,” introduced with the blue plate instead of the current “Yours To Discover.”
Commercial plates will have the slogan, “Open For Business.”
The colour shift is an embarrassing U-turn for the Conservatives, who launched the blue plate, which resembled a Q-tip box, with much fanfare in then treasurer Vic Fedeli’s poorly received budget last April.
Ford was so unhappy with the rollout of the spending plan — which featured hidden cuts to services that hurt the Tories politically — he replaced Fedeli with Rod Phillips just 10 weeks later.
But that June cabinet shuffle was well before the snafu with the blue plates erupted last month.
The problem emerged when a Kingston police officer tweeted a photo of one plate that was impossible to read due to glare.
At first, Government and Consumer Minister Lisa Thompson denied there was anything wrong and dubbed the current white design with blue letters and numbers as “Liberal plates” even though former Tory premier Bill Davis introduced them.
Thompson quickly backtracked, blaming the problem on manufacturer, 3M Canada, which is currently paying to fix the problem.
The actual cost of correcting the flaw is protected by a nondisclosure agreement signed by the government and the company.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has asked Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk to investigate how the boondoggle unfolded.
Earlier this week, Ford blew his top when pressed about the fiasco by reporters.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m shocked you’re even asking me that … I know the media wants to pound on little things. We’re looking at the big vision,” the premier said Monday.
“Let’s make no mistake about it, I was frustrated, the minister was frustrated,” said Ford, who ran his family’s label-printing business before entering politics.
“Our minister has responded, the vendor has responded. The vendor had an issue. We’re correcting it. There’s zero expense to the taxpayers.”
About 71,000 of the double-blue licence plates have been issued since Feb. 1.
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Motorists who have already received the illegible plates will be contacted by mail with instructions on how to get the white replacements.
Licence plate validation stickers will also be reissued with new plates and any remaining stock of the blue plates will be recycled.
Until the new white design is ready later this month the familiar white “Yours To Discover” plates will be issued.