OTTAWA -- The federal government is under fire for distributing maple leaf lapel pins that aren't made in Canada.
A tender notice from the Public Works Department posted yesterday calls for up to 40,000 pins for Agriculture Canada featuring a stylized maple leaf with a "Canada" logo. The supplier must be domestic, but there's no requirement for the pins to be manufactured in Canada.
That angers NDP MP Charlie Angus, who said the symbolic pins should be proudly crafted in Canada.
"If we're going to just go to the cheapest sweatshop, why don't we just run a Wal-Mart flag up the Peace Tower?" he fumed. "It's an embarrassment. It's a little thing, but it's not all that hard for the government to procure in Canada."
Angus had declared the former Liberal government "roadside hucksters" for farming out production of six million maple leaf pins to China.
He said ex-public works minister Scott Brison bowed to pressure and promised to change the policy, but it appears the switch was never implemented.
"We're asking people to have respect for the flag, yet we have a government that will nickel and dime us by seeking out the cheapest sweatshops around the world. The flag should stand for something more," he said.
Tasia Papadatos, who works in Public Works' procurement division, said some government departments such as Veterans Affairs and Foreign Affairs require the pins be manufactured in Canada. But others don't stipulate where the supplier has the items made.
Public Works Minister Michael Fortier's office refused to comment on whether the Conservative government will establish a made-in-Canada lapel pin protocol.