There are few symbols as distinctly "branded" as the Canadian red and white maple leaf (save for the US' stars and stripes and the former Soviet Union's hammer and sickle). Douchey Canadian travellers have been proudly wearing the maple leaf on their backpacks for decades to make sure anyone they encounter on their requisite post-high school European piss-up knows right away they're not Americans. It's as close to bragging as we get in this country, where tall poppy syndrome has eternally coloured our mild approach to patriotism. We all collectively cringe when our flag-waving-est citizens like Don Cherry and world's most annoying human, the I Am Canadian guy attempt to do otherwise. Where many a landfill overflows with USA-themed merch, we prefer to let our humble leaf speak for us. That's all the self-promotion we need, eh bud?
Which is why here at VICE we're especially shocked that the government of Canada disagrees with our collective stance against cheesy promotional items. In fact, it turns out they've spent $1 million in just six short months branding everything from cufflinks to foam chickens in an effort to hype our governmental institutions.
The list of merch was only recently discovered after Conservative MP Arnold Viersen asked for a breakdown of any promotional materials the government has commissioned between November 4, 2015 and April, 2016. The government's response was 199 pages of some of the most embarrassing ways our institutions could have possibly promoted themselves.
Here's just some of that soon-to-be-trash:
500 Canadian Security Establishment lip balms, which is a weird way to brand the country's spy agency, though the 300 Canadian Security Establishment Rubik cubes make more sense. $1,500 worth of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission "Nuclear Watchdog" fidget toy dogs, which is honestly terrifying, what do these nuclear safety people have to be so fidgety about? Though the Nuclear Commission's branded colour-changing mood pens sound pretty dope actually. There were 4,000 insanely cliche eye glasses wipes for Library and Archives Canada, which like, is just embarrassing in its laziness. (For next year's library swag we'd like to see some sexy cardigans and pens that you use to put your hair up in a bun that you inevitably shake out in a super seductive way.)
Global Affairs Canada racked up a massive bill of nearly $150,000 on everything from cufflinks to tie tacks (seems like Trudeau's promise of gender parity missed this department) and for the millennials, some probably very sick temporary tattoos. And finally, the most audacious, on-brand promo purchase goes to the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions who handed out 425 "fugitive backpacks" just in case you were on the fence about whether or not to finish paying off your student loans or just flee the country like our federally-employed financial overlords.
That being said, if you have any extra mood pens we'll gladly hype Nuclear Safety.
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