Call it the great Queen's Park Christmas tree caper.
When Opposition Leader Tim Hudak arrived at the Ontario Legislature on Tuesday morning, he discovered, much to his dismay, that the majestic three-metre-tall tree erected outside his office the previous day had vanished. In its place stood a much shorter "Charlie Brown" version.
"We're going to track it down," Mr. Hudak vowed. "We were getting pretty attached to it."
Staff in his office immediately launched a campaign, complete with "Free Tim's tree" stickers, to find the missing Fraser fir.
The culprit turned out to be none other than Steve Peters, Speaker of the Legislature, who set the record straight for reporters. The Christmas tree delivered to the Speaker's apartment in the legislature, he explained, wasn't quite large enough.
So under cover of darkness on Monday night, he wandered the corridors of the legislature in search of a suitable replacement and settled on the one outside Mr. Hudak's office. The switch was made.
"I sincerely apologize for that happening," Mr. Peters said.
He invited Mr. Hudak, and anyone else for that matter who is "concerned about the size of their tree," to head out to the parking lot outside and select another one.
"I guess around here, the boys think that size matters," joked New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath.
By late Tuesday afternoon, all was well. Mr. Hudak received a brand new tree - one that is fatter, but not taller, than the one now gracing the Speaker's apartment.
"It was a hard-fought campaign, but at the end of the day, the tree is back," said a smiling Mr. Hudak. "I don't know if this is the twin, a close cousin, but in terms of the size, it looks good."