The Bank of Canada considered celebrating gay marriages, black hockey players, and turban-wearing RCMP officers on its new plastic bank notes, but eventually nixed them all in favour of the more traditional images of a train, a ship and a monument.
Internal documents show that focus groups and a Bank of Canada team reviewed a series of currency images intended in part to reflect the diversity of Canada's population, particularly the country's varied ethnic character.
Images that were considered included a Chinese dragon parade, the swearing in of a new citizen, Toronto's annual Caribbean festival, children of different ethnic backgrounds playing hockey or building a snowman, and a person in a wheelchair playing basketball.
The image catalogue was drawn up in 2008 by The Strategic Counsel, a market research firm hired for $476,000 to help the Bank decide how to illustrate its new series of polymer $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills. The first note, the $100, began circulating in November 2011.
Drawing on focus-group discussions and workshops with Canadians in six cities, the consultant found strong support for themes of "diversity, inclusiveness, acceptance of others/multiculturalism." Eventually, 41 image ideas covering several themes were tested and given scores.
Among the highest-rated images were those of children of different ethnic backgrounds building a snowman; faces of individuals from different cultures celebrating Canada Day; an image of a hand of many colours; and children of different ethnic backgrounds playing hockey. These selections were then presented by the Bank of Canada team to officials at Finance Canada for further vetting.
Many images proposed at the start of the process did not make the cut. Rejected were illustrations of a gay marriage, an RCMP officer wearing a turban, and "hockey with a twist ... with a black player."
The reasons for early rejection are not clear in the heavily censored documents, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.