The Beginning of a New Budget Day Tradition?

Posted by Daniel Feuer on

Viola Desmond ankersIt's become somewhat of a tradition here in Canada for the Minister of Finance to wear a new pair of shoes to deliver the Federal Budget. The tradition has also showed up in Provincial politics too. Unfortunately, pranga doesn't sell shoes.

This year the Honourable Minister of Finance, Bill Moreau will be sporting an awesome pair of pranga's interchangeable cufflinks . . . along with some nice shoes too. With the 100 plus ankers to choose from it's not easy to buy just one pair (that why customers buy several) and I wanted to know why the Minister chose the new vertical $10 bill.

Canadian $10 2001 featuring two female Canadian Forces officers and a young girl.Until recently Canadian women have remained relatively nameless on banknotes with all being portrayed on the back of the bill. There were two female Canadian Forces officers and a young girl on the $10 bill issued in 2001. In 2004 a statue of the Famous Five (Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney and Irene Parlby) and the medal for the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award were featured on the back of the $50 note. Then in 2011 a nameless female scientist was portrayed on the $100 banknote.

Canadian $50 2004 with a statue of the Famous Five, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney and Irene Parlby and the medal for the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer AwardMorneau has always been a strong supporter of women and female empowerment. In 2010, he began leading an initiative with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to open a secondary school for refugee girls in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. The school opened in 2014, and currently enrolls 340 girls. In October 2015, Morneau was elected as a first-time Member of Parliament and then appointed Minister of Finance and had the opportunity to continue early work of having Canadian women on the nation’s banknotes.

In 2013, historian and author of "100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces" Merna Forster started an online petition and campaign to have notable women featured on Canadian banknotes. The petition received over 73,000 signatures, she wrote to every sitting Member of Parliament and sent her book to each female director of the Bank of Canada. In April 2016, the Bank of Canada announced an independent Advisory Council to develop a short list of iconic Canadian women who could be featured on the first bank note of the next series.

Canadian $10 2018. Featuring Agnes Macphail (first woman in Canadian history to be elected as a federal Member of Parliament), Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Étienne Cartier and James Gladstone (Akay-na-muka) a member of the Kainai (Blood) First Nation.Just prior to Canada's 150th anniversary, the Bank of Canada issued a commemorative $10 banknote which included the image of Agnes Macphail. Macphail became the first woman in Canadian history to be elected as a federal Member of Parliament service from 1921 until 1940. She was included along with Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Étienne Cartier and James Gladstone (Akay-na-muka) a member of the Kainai (Blood) First Nation.

On March 8, 2018 a new banknote was unveiled featuring Canadian civil rights pioneer and entrepreneur Viola Desmond. She played a seminal role in Canada's civil rights movement when she went to see a movie at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, N.S., while her car was getting repaired. Desmond was forcibly removed from the theatre by police and jailed for defiantly sitting in the "whites only" section of the film house. You can read more about her incredible story here and watch a Canadian Heritage minute here.

I started on this post thinking that I'd joke about a new tradition of cufflinks for the Finance Minister, but there's a real lesson to be learned here. The physical currency of a country should be reflection of a its values not just economic prowess. As I child I found an interest in coin and paper money collecting which has been rekindled in recent years. Seeing more diversity represented not only encourages collecting, it starts to acknowledges the contributions that so many minorities and first peoples made. I look forward to seeing what new faces I'll find on future banknotes.

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