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Some say the new Ontario provincial logo looks more like holly than a trillium. ((Government of Ontario))

The Liberal government is under fire for spending $219,000 to replace Ontario's traditional trillium logo with a drastically new version.

Opposition critics are calling it a waste of money at a time when Premier Dalton McGuinty's government is running a deficit.

The logo was introduced in 1964 and underwent small modifications in 1972, 1994 and 2002.

Other than the colour changing to green in 1994 and being switched back to black in 2002, changes to the design have been minor.

The latest version eliminates the box surrounding the flower. Three abstract human figures have been added.

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The trillium logo has undergone minor changes since it was introduced in 1964. ((Government of Ontario))

Some design experts are critical of the design, saying it looks more like holly than the official symbol of Ontario.

"It's a rather spiky looking trillium and very unfriendly," said Keith Rushton, a design professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design. "It's structurally unsound. The old logo was vastly superior. It was simpler, cleaner."

Rushton also noted that the detailed design is unlikely to transfer well when printed in a smaller format.

Shades of partisanship?

Opposition parties also criticized the design of the logo, saying the new A-shaped logo closely resembles the shape of the trillium embedded in the text of the Ontario Liberal party's trademark. The former government logo was T-shaped.

Bensimon Byrne, a Toronto-based advertising firm that has done work for the Ontario Liberal party, designed the new provincial logo.

Government Services Minister Gerry Phillips, who has railed against similar expenditures by past governments as an opposition MPP, defended the new logo.

"It looks very little like anything on the Liberal logo. It looks more like the NDP logo," Phillips told CBC.ca Friday. "The fact is it just looks more like a contemporary trillium."

It's not the first time the provincial government has been under fire for colouring the trillium with shades of partisanship.

Under the Tories of former premier Bill Davis in the early 1980s, the government popularized the use of a white trillium with a blue background.

In the late 1980s, David Peterson, the Liberal premier, came under fire for using a photograph of a red trillium, not the typical white one, on the cover of the provincial budget.