The road not taken

Say what you want about the Canadians but they do know how to keep their banknotes in the news. After the flood of bad press recently, this time the news is a bit lighter. A report shows the ideas for new themes on the banknotes which have been put out to focus groups. Amongst those themes were illustrations of a gay marriage, an officer wearing a turban, and a black hockey player.


The final images that were chosen are far less controversial. The $5 note will show robotic arms built for space programs and the $10 note a train. The $20 note depicts the Vimy Ridge memorial in France, while the $50 has a picture of an icebreaker. The Queen and prime ministers occupy the fronts of the notes.

An early version of the $100 note, illustrating the theme of medical innovations, showed a female medical researcher with distinctly Asian features. But later focus groups raised questions about her ethnicity, prompting the bank to erase the Asian features in favour of a Caucasian-looking woman.

Apparently a lot of things are controversial, looking at a list of rejected ideas which has been published nonetheless:

  • Images of hockey were rejected by some as they would "glorify a violent sport."
  • Suggested military images sparked controversy arising from Canada's role in Afghanistan, and from some people's preference for peacekeeping over warfare. The Vimy Ridge memorial, which was the image chosen for the $20 note, was seen as "sufficiently distant in time."
  • A suggestion to depict ice wine was rejected by some because "alcohol should not be shown on bank notes."
  • Proposals to depict "safe cities" and Canada's so-called "no gun" culture were rejected because the theme might not endure over the lifetime of the bank notes, e.g., cities might become more crime-ridden.
  • Aboriginal art was snubbed by a few participants because "enough had been done by way of promoting aboriginal art."
  • Images that included snow "may become more controversial should global warming progress," and are best avoided, said some.
  • Pictures of wind turbines and solar panels were rejected because "clean energy is a controversial concept."
  • Portraits of Terry Fox, Liberal Prime Minister Lester Pearson, and medicare trailblazer Tommy Douglas were all nixed.

This has caused some people to argue against the focus groups altogether. Not such a bad idea I think.

Steven Tuesday 12 February 2013 at 08:21 am | | links
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