It seems that not much is sacred concerning institutions these days. Try to find an institutional body or modus operandi which doesn’t have serious detractors; it will be a short list.
As I was reminded at a presentation earlier today, the electoral system in Canada is on the precipice of a major structural shift.
Within the next eighteen months Parliament is to have in motion a debate for determining which of three electoral systems to adopt: (maintaining) the current first-past-the-post, which seems to be largely out of favour by process proponents; proportional representation, which locates seats based on vote percentage, but which in practice historically leads to many unstable coalition governments; and ranking, in which a voter would identify preferred candidates in likely a 1, 2 ,3 order of preference, a newer approach with limited use so far.
That is also by way of saying our long-standing electoral system is not considered sacred.
Since we can see such challenging of institutional ways becoming more entrenched, let’s consider another possibility.
With the recent announcement that the next series of Canadian paper currency issued by the Bank of Canada will include a high-profile female represented on one of the bills for the first time, perhaps it’s time for its cousin institution, the Royal Canadian Mint, to take its own, some would say overdue, step: replacing the image of the reigning British monarch on the obverse side of our coinage.
In recent years our banknotes have evolved with much more Canadian identification. The British Queen’s visage is now restricted to the $20 bill, albeit one of the most popular denominations.
It can be questioned that, if our paper money can change with the times, including images used to display our history, why cannot the same change of direction occur with our coinage?
Keep in mind that it isn’t just daily circulation coins at issue here.
For those of us who are collectors of various of the special series which have become a major part of the RCM’s business, we are still faced, literally, with the Queen on the obverse side of each coin. Considering how modern themed and styled (including 3D, jewel encrusted, glow-in-the-dark, etc.) are many of these coins, the monarch’s image on the flip side seems archaic.
These days we are supposed to be increasingly welcoming and recognizing diversity of cultural inputs in our land. However, we continue to have a steadfast image on our coins; let’s face it, this remains meaningful to an ever diminishing part of our population.
Next year Canada celebrates its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. This would seem to be a potential, valid context to engage truly national looking coinage.