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The Airbus plane used to transport Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a new paint job.MCpl Roy MacLellan

Stephen Harper's ride just got a new paint job, and the Prime Minister is trading in gun-metal grey for red, white and blue.

The military Airbus CC-150 Polaris was repainted during its regularly scheduled maintenance for an additional $50,000, according to the defence department.

In addition to the colours – "arctic white," "ocean blue" and "maple leaf red" – the plane will be sporting phrases from the national anthem and a coat of arms behind the door.

"Repainting of the [aircraft] is required roughly every six years," said defence spokesperson Paloma Aguilar. "This aircraft is a symbol of Canada. We are proud to showcase Canada to the world."

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said Friday that the new colour scheme blurred the lines between the government and the party.

"I promise that as soon as we form government in 2015, we won't be painting the plane orange," Mr. Mulcair said. "It's a government plane. It's not a party plane."

Mr. Harper has wanted the new paint job for years. A Canadian Press report in 2011 disclosed documents that showed Defence Minister Peter MacKay resisted having the plane decorated in civilian colours for fear it would be too visible in risky locales.

The paint job was a favourite topic of Friday's Question Period. The NDP's Pat Martin said the Tories used taxpayers' money "to play Pimp my Ride with the Prime Minister's flying Taj Mahal" and Liberal MP John McCallum said the colourful coat would jeopardize the use of the plane in military operations.

Responding to Mr. Martin, Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai said the plane "will carry Canadian symbols, Canadian national symbols. I do not understand why [the NDP] have a problem with Canadian national symbols."

The aircraft was dubbed the "Taj Mahal" by the Liberals' then-leader Jean Chrétien after it was bought in the late 1980s.

In spite of its nickname, the plane's interior is dated and far from luxurious. There is a small office at the front of the plane for the Prime Minister and an open hallway on the side where senior staff sit. Media and other government staff sit at the back of the plane. When not in use by the Prime Minister, the plane is used by the Canadian Forces to transport the Governor-General, visiting members of the royal family and other dignitaries.

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