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The testing occurred in December. After the plates were officially distributed in February, the OPP released a supportive quote in an Ontario government news release.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

The Ontario Provincial Police’s automated camera system did not initially detect any visibility problems with the government’s new blue licence plates, but officers later found they had difficultly seeing them, the commissioner of the country’s second-largest police force said.

Thomas Carrique said in an interview that the OPP tested the new plates in three different lighting conditions with automated licence plate readers, which are used in Amber Alert child abduction cases. The provincial police force publicly declared last month that there were no visibility problems with the new blue-on-blue plates, even after concerns had been raised by officers with other police services that the plates are not easily readable in the dark.

The testing occurred in December. After the plates were officially distributed in February, the OPP released a supportive quote in an Ontario government news release. Since then, concerns have been expressed, Commissioner Carrique told The Globe.

“We have had officers come back to say they have experienced some difficulty in reading the licence plates by the human eye in certain lighting conditions,” he said.

Premier Doug Ford’s government has been on the defensive for weeks after initially denying any problems with its recently redesigned plate. The government has since backtracked and new “enhanced” plates are expected to be delivered on March 16, although the government is refusing to say whether they will still be blue-on-blue.

Asked on Tuesday how he feels if the blue-on-blue plates are scrapped in favour of a return to one with a white background, Mr. Ford jokingly told reporters that the news “breaks my heart.”

Mr. Ford declined to explicitly confirm the redesigned plates will revert to a white background that resembles the province’s former model. But he said the new plate would be unveiled soon, and the costs for the changes were being paid by the vendor, 3M. The government has signed a non-disclosure agreement with the company, meaning the cost and cause of the defect will be kept private.

“Guys, we are moving forward with it. And we’re going to have the plates back out there, and 3M’s paying for it,” Mr. Ford said. “There’s zero cost to the taxpayers.”

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