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This article was published 6/1/2016 (1952 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — A commemorative loonie will be released by the Royal Canadian Mint later this year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in Canada.
Federal cabinet voted last month to order the coin, which will be a loonie in general circulation. One side will have the same portrait of Queen Elizabeth II that has been on all our coins since 2003. The other side will have a portrait of a 1916-era woman casting a ballot while a child looks on. It will be inscribed with three lines saying, "Women’s Right to Vote", "Droit de vote des femmes" and "1916-2016."
There will be five million of these special loonies issued. Fittingly, the coins will be minted in Manitoba, the province that first granted women the right to vote at the provincial level on Jan. 28, 1916. A major gala is planned in Winnipeg to mark that event, and numerous other activities including an exhibit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The coin is the latest addition to the plans.
Alex Reeves, senior manager of communications for the Royal Canadian Mint, said the Crown corporation produces a handful of commemorative circulation coins every year to honour specific anniversaries in Canadian history.
"We’re always looking ahead to see what big anniversaries are on the horizon," said Reeves.
The Nellie McClung Foundation wrote to the Mint about a year ago asking about the possibility of a commemorative coin to celebrate the Manitoba centennial this month, as well as those of the other provinces and the federal government.
Foundation board member and Tory MLA Myrna Driedger said she’s happy to see it happen.
"The coin will be a very special memento recognizing these Centennial achievements across Canada," said Driedger by email.
The new coin will not be ready for release in time for the anniversary of the Manitoba legislation on Jan. 28 largely because of delays imposed by the election. Circulation coins must be approved and ordered by cabinet. While the Mint first approached cabinet about in July, the matter wasn’t addressed before the federal election call on Aug. 2. It was raised again with the new government on Nov. 20 and cabinet approved it on Dec. 11.
Dan Lauzon, director of communications for Finance Minister Bill Morneau, said it was a "no brainer" to approve the coin given the government’s commitment to equality rights.
Reeves said the coin is expected in a few months but could not give an exact date.
There is also a change.org petition underway urging the government to put a Canadian woman or women on our banknotes. There was a picture of the Famous Five and Quebec politician Therese Casgrain on the $50 bill between 2004 and 2011, but that image was replaced with a research ship when the new polymer notes were issued five years ago.
The petition, started in 2013, now has close to 65,000 signatures.
NDP status of women critic Sheila Malcomson said given the Liberal government’s commitment to women’s rights and diversity, including gender parity in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, she is optimistic the government will act to fix the absence of Canadian women from our banknotes.
"I do hope the Liberals will take this up early in their mandate," she said.
Lauzon said the government will undertake a broad consultation process with Canadians when it is time to create a new set of banknotes.
The U.S. government announced last year a historical American woman would be added to the US$10 bill by 2020. The United Kingdom intends to put author Jane Austen on the 10-pound note next year.