When you’re in high demand but cloning isn’t an option, what do you do? The Liberal government’s answer to the conundrum was ordering 14 life-size cut-outs of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for American missions, according to documents tabled this week in the House of Commons.
In the document, Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office said the purchases were part of the government’s bid to “re-engage with the world,” champion Canadian values and “engage with our international counterparts.”
After the existence of at least two such cut-outs made news last month, Conservative MP Ben Lobb asked Global Affairs Canada how many the government purchased between November 2015 and March 2017 and at what cost.
Freeland’s office came back with a list showing they only ever ordered cut-outs of Trudeau, but no other minister; taxpayers shelled out a total of $1,877.24 for the 14 cardboard likenesses, one wooden backing frame and shipping costs.
“These promotional items were at the discretion of our missions in the United States,” Freeland wrote in the response.
“Missions have been asked to no longer use these items for their events.”
While pointing the finger at American diplomatic missions, Freeland suggested the cardboard cut-outs were part of Canada’s commitment to “re-engaging with the world to champion the values that Canadians hold dear” – reasoning the Conservatives say is “laughable.”
Ontario MP John Brassard said the cut-outs amount to little more than a vanity project.
“What does a two-dimensional cardboard picture of the prime minister have to do with any Canadian value?” he asked.
Freeland sent a cease and desist memo to the guilty missions in March, following the revelation that the prime ministerial replicas had turned up at a music festival in Austin, Texas, that month and a Canadian consulate event in Atlanta in June 2016.
It was reported in March that the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C., had put out a rush order for a cut-out of its own, to use on Canada Day, spending $147.79 on the cardboard likeness and $72.80 for next-day delivery.
The embassy didn’t say whether it got to use the cut-out.
Lobb didn’t ask the fate of the banned cut-outs – whether they’re in storage or were unceremoniously tossed in the bin.
For anyone out there who wants one, though, they’re available for purchase at historicalcutouts.com, starting at $59.99.
A likeness of Trudeau’s predecessor — Stephen Harper — is also available at the same cost.