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A new face for Canada’s $5 bill

By Serena Sajan, January 20 2019 —

The Bank of Canada is seeking a new face for the Canadian $5 bill. Currently, the bill features Sir Wilfrid Laurier who was Canada’s first francophone prime minister. Since he has been on the bill for more than a century, it is important to find a worthy replacement. Canada undoubtedly has a rich history of influential figures that played a key role in shaping its future and previous achievements, therefore there are a few great options. Recently, the $10 bill features Viola Desmond, a civil rights activist. It was an intensive selection process involving public consultation and will be a similar process for the $5 bill’s face change. 

To provide an idea as to who deserves the recognition, here are some great individuals:

Terry Fox:

Terry Fox is a celebrated figure across Canada. You may remember him best from the annual Terry Fox Runs hosted at your schools. Fox was an incredible athlete in his early teens and later became a philanthropist to spread awareness about cancer. In 1997, Fox was diagnosed with a bone cancer called osteogenic sarcoma and to increase his chances of survival, had his leg amputated. During his chemotherapy treatment, he witnessed how other patients were suffering and decided to do something to help. As a result, the Marathon of Hope was established where Fox committed to run across Canada while using a prosthetic leg with the goal of raising awareness and funds for cancer research. 

Louis Riel:

Louis Riel is an important figure in Canada’s history, and he has many schools and holidays named after him. An influential figure in the Métis community, he protected the Métis peoples’  interests in opposition to the Canadian government. In 1869, he led the Red River Rebellion in which the Métis people made claims to their land and established a provisional government. This ultimately resulted in the negotiation of Manitoba entering Confederation in 1870. Therefore, Riel is considered to be the founder of modern Manitoba. However, in 1885 he was executed for treason due to his resistance against the Canadian government but now, many Canadians acknowledge that he played a significant role in Confederation while protecting the rights of the Métis community. Moreover, Manitoba may not have existed as part of Canada today without Riel.

Tommy Douglas:

Tommy Douglas was the premier of the province of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961. Douglas had a new vision of what the purpose of government should be. Many were against his modern ideologies and fought to oppose his election in Saskatchewan, yet he surprised everyone with his win as the first democratic socialist government in North America in 1944. Douglas is recognized as the father of universal health care as he was the first politician to introduce free hospitals and health care to those on government support. By 1962, under Douglas’ leadership, Saskatchewan implemented the first-ever subsidized universal health care plan, otherwise known as medicare. Douglas’ win as premier stirred change in political views across the country and soon other provinces began to follow Saskatchewan’s footsteps. Thanks to Tommy Douglas, Canada is now a country with free health care and old-age pensions. 

Pierre Trudeau:

Pierre Trudeau was the 15th prime minister of Canada who is famously known for his stance against the separation of Quebec from Canada as well as advancing Canadian civil rights. During his terms, Trudeau implemented policies that continue to play a huge role today. In Quebec in 1970, he passed the War Measures Act to fight terrorism caused by Quebec separatist groups. Trudeau also established the Official Languages Act in 1969, maintaining French-language rights across the country. Furthermore, through effective negotiation, Trudeau achieved constitutional independence from Britain and established the Constitution Act along with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. These Acts enabled Canadians to receive more equality and civil rights than any policies present before. Although Trudeau could be considered controversial, especially in the West, it cannot be disregarded that he was one of the best politicians in recent Canadian history.

This is not an exhaustive list of who deserves to be featured on the $5 bill, therefore it is important to do your research and share your thoughts. More information regarding how you can participate in the selection process will be provided towards the end of the month.

This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.

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