Banking on a new bill

Queen’s professor steers public engagement for new bank note

A permanent bank note will feature a notable Canadian woman in 2018.
Supplied by Sara Long

According to Queen’s professor Jonathan Rose, a new face on Canadian bills may also change the way the Bank of Canada makes decisions. 

Rose, an associate professor in Political Studies, has recently been selected to guide public consultation as the Bank of Canada selects a woman to feature on a new Canadian bill.  

Rose said the government has set up an advisory council of seven leaders from academia, the arts and cultural activities. 

These individuals will tackle the list of nominations, which is now at over 14,000 names — with some duplicates — to determine their recommendation for the Governor General. Rose isn’t a member of this council, but he’ll steer the public engagement process. 

“I’m not involved in what decision they make, but the process about how they make that decision,” he said. 

He remained tight-lipped concerning his own opinion of who should be selected, choosing instead to describe the criteria the council should consider.

“I’d put someone who was an expression of our national unity, [and] someone who represented the very best of Canadian culture, arts [and] thought.” 

“You’ll notice I didn’t answer your question,” he said with a laugh. He did say it may not be necessary to remove a figure from an existing note, as it’s conceivable to have a face on both sides of a bill.

But Rose was candid about his excitement about the endeavor. He believes the impact will be two-fold. 

“It’s about time we had a woman on our currency, so that’s great. But, [the second impact] will be around the process.”

He said he’s thrilled that the Bank of Canada is taking a broad, consultative and deliberative approach for the first time, although he added that such an approach has already been taken in the United Kingdom and the United States. 

The woman chosen must satisfy three sets of criteria: they must be a naturalized or born Canadian citizen, they must not be fictional and they must have been deceased for 25 years. 

The 25-year mandate aligns with a Parks Canada regulation on how to define a historically significant person. 

“It kind of makes some sense, right? You want them to stand the test of time. If they’re recently deceased, 10 years from now they may not be as significant as they were,” Rose said. 

When told of his appointment, he says he was ecstatic. 

“I mean I’m a guy who [has done] research in public engagement and deliberation, so this complements the work I’ve done,” he said.

Rose previously served as the academic director for the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform, and led a citizens’ assembly in Prince Edward County to study the optimal size of municipal council. 

Rose said the process of selecting a female figure is the beginning of an important conversation. 

“[It’s] a conversation about how we decide who is significant and an educational opportunity. We’re recognizing the number of amazing women who’ve made a significant contribution.” 

The nomination process is open until April 15. The new bank note will be put into circulation in late 2018.

To nominate, visit


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