The driver user guide says to run the command cngpijmonmp270 (snappy name eh) followed by the printer name, and this will open up a window showing the printer status (in their example it reads "Paper out! Load paper. Press the printers start button"), and underneath, two icons, one for the colour ink level, and one for the black ink.
On mine though, the status shows "Ready" regardless of what's going on (I forced an error by printing from LibreOffice with no paper in, but it still shows "Ready"), and there's nothing where the ink level icons should be. I've tried running sudo cngpijmonmp270 but it makes no difference. The only error I get through the terminal is "Fontconfig warning: "/etc/fonts/conf.d/50-user.conf", line 9: reading configurations from ~/.fonts.conf is deprecated" which I don't think is relevant.
The ink command doesn't report the ink level either:
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iain@iain-G70 ~ $ sudo ink -d /dev/usb/lp1
ink 0.5.1 (c) 2010 Markus Heinz
Canon MP270 series
I'm very certain the ink cartridges are more than 0% full
I've tried Epson's mtink utility after reading it also works on Canon printers, but that just opens showing empty cartridges, and it freezes up too.