OTTAWA – When the next series of Canadian bank notes rolls off the presses in 2018, one of them will, for the first time ever, bear the portrait of a woman other than the Queen — and nominations are open now.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau marked International Women’s Day on Tuesday by launching the search for a new face for the currency.
“I am pleased to announce today, right here, that a Canadian woman will be featured on the very first of the next series of bills expected in 2018,” Trudeau told a news conference marking the occasion.
Hazel McCallion, the firebrand political legend who served for 36 years as mayor of Mississauga, Ont., was on hand for the announcement.
“Finally, the Bank of Canada and the government has recognized it is time for a woman to be on,” McCallion said. “I’ve been helping the organization to do it.”
The bank is asking the public to nominate women deserving of the recognition, provided they meet the criteria. Submissions can be made on the bank’s website between now and April 15.
The nominee must be a Canadian woman who demonstrated outstanding leadership, achievement or distinction in any field, benefiting the people of Canada, or in the service of Canada.
Anne of Green Gables is out, because no fictional characters are allowed. And nominees must have been dead for at least 25 years.
An independent advisory council of eminent academic, cultural and thought leaders will review the submissions and, after talking to experts and more consultation with the public, will provide a short list of candidates to the finance minister.
Morneau pointed out that, over the country’s near-150 years, women have been largely unrepresented on the currency, except for the Queen. It’s time for change, he said.
“I’d invite all Canadians, male and female, to have their say,” he said.
The bank note announcement came as the Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a new $1 coin commemorating the 100 years since women first gained the right to vote in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta provincial elections.
Morneau called the coin “a reminder that equality endures as a fundamental value of Canadian society.”
The mint plans to issue five million of the new dollars.
The coin was designed by artist Laurie McGaw. The reverse features a 1916-era depiction of woman casting a ballot as her child looks on. It’s inscribed: “Women’s right to vote, Droit de vote des femmes” with the dates 1916-2016.
The NDP welcomed the plan for the new bill.
“New Democrats have been fighting to diversify our bank notes and make them reflective of Canadians for years,” said MP Sheila Malcolmson, the party critic for the status of women.
Since the Bank of Canada began issuing notes in 1935, the Queen and a couple of members of the 1930s Royal Family have been the only women featured.
The Queen first appeared on a Canadian bank note in 1935 when, as an eight-year-old princess, she was featured on the $20 bill — the same denomination on which she is currently featured.