Bank of Canada to solicit public for Laurier’s replacement
By Atiba Nelson, Staff Reporter
The Bank of Canada is kicking off 2020 by asking Canadians to nominate an individual to unseat Sir Wilfrid Laurier and join Viola Desmond, Queen Elizabeth, William Lyon Mackenzie King, and Robert Borden on Canadian currency.
“This will be similar to the public consultations that led to the selection of Viola Desmond for the $10 note,” said Stephen Poloz, Governor of the Bank of Canada.
Canada’s central bank is adopting the same process that saw Sir John A. Macdonald erased from ten dollar notes in 2018, and placed black Nova Scotian businesswomen and civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond on the obverse of the award-winning vertical purple polymer notes.
Desmond played a central role in the Canadian civil rights movement, as her 1946 legal case—which started because she was jailed for watching a film, The Dark Mirror, in the “whites only” section of a New Glasgow, Nova Scotia movie theatre—helped end segregation in the province. Notably, the province of Nova Scotia posthumously issued Mrs. Desmond an official apology and free pardon—the first time ever in Canadian history.
Previously, Bank of Canada nominations needed to be “Canadian—by birth or naturalization—[and demonstrate] outstanding leadership, achievement or distinction in any field, benefiting the people of Canada, or in the service of Canada, and deceased for at least 25 years,” according to the former nomination criteria from the Bank of Canada website.
After the open call to Canadians, a long list was published on the Bank of Canada website with all nominations that met the criteria. Then, a public opinion survey was conducted to understand how Canadians viewed each long list suggestion. After surveying Canadians, an advisory council drafted a short list that was focus-group tested. The short list—along with focus group results—was presented to the Bank of Canada and the Minister of Finance selected the individual to be depicted.
“It’s kind of a new and ground-breaking thing that they’re doing a public consultation process about this. Let alone simply changing it to an iconic Canadian,” said Steven Bell, President of the Banknote Certification Service.
Early candidates for the new five-dollar bill include Marathon of Hope runner, Terry Fox, who received the Twitter hashtag #FoxForFiver to generate public support, and former The Tragically Hip lead singer Gord Downie.
More details about how Canadians can have a say in the nomination process will be finalized at the end of January.