Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Money Talks, but More Needs to Be Said

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Money Talks, but More Needs to Be Said

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Money talks, but more needs to be said


An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published March 8:

As of today, Viola Desmond is the newly minted face on our money.

The much-discussed new $10 bill featuring the portrait of Ms. Desmond, a Nova Scotian civil rights champion and businesswoman, will be unveiled today -- International Women's Day -- by the Bank of Canada at the Halifax Central Library. Ms. Desmond will be the first Canadian woman to grace the front of a regularly circulating Canadian banknote.

The new bill, which will be in circulation later this year, is the result of the 2016's #bankNOTEable campaign, during which Canadians were asked to nominate prominent, accomplished Canadian women, mostly from history. Living women were not eligible.

Other finalists included poet E. Pauline Johnson, Quebec suffragette Idola Saint-Jean, 1928 Olympic track and field gold medallist Fanny Rosenfeld, and the first woman to earn a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, Elsie MacGill.

Of course, there's rich irony in making women, yet again, compete for one available spot. But, Ms. Desmond is certainly deserving of her place on the $10 bill. In 1945, she refused to give up her seat in a whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, N.S. She was forcibly removed and jailed overnight. She subsequently launched the first known legal challenge against racial segregation brought forth by a black woman in Canada.

When it was announced Ms. Desmond's portrait would be replacing Sir John A. Macdonald's -- which has been on the $10 note since 1971 -- there were many complaints, just as there were in the U.S. when it was announced that abolitionist Harriet Tubman would be replacing former president Andrew Jackson on that country's $20 bill.

Some objected to the Canadian banknote change because they believed it was disrespectful to the former prime minister; some felt threatened, perhaps fearing that having a woman's face on money might set things on a slippery slope toward equal pay. …

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