The Bank of Canada recently issued a new $20 bank note sporting a leaf from a Norway maple — an invasive species brought to North America in the 18th century — rather than one of Canada’s ten native species of maple. The Bank denies that the leaf is from a Norway maple, but botanists are adamant that there can be no mistaking it for one of our own.
The Bank and Government have taken some flack for this faux pas. See, for example, this CBC News story and the 568 moronic comments from readers. From their international perspective, bloggers at The Economist poke a bit of fun at Canadians for the incident.
Normally, such a petty and irrelevant piece of news is nothing to blog about. I don’t really care what species of tree has its leaf on my bank notes. I roll my eyes and chuckle at the mistake. To me, the biggest tragedy of our bank notes is that they still exist in physical form. But I can’t help wondering, amidst all the uproar over leaves, has anyone noticed the rather large portrait of a foreign monarch on that same bank note?!
As with the leaf, I know it doesn’t really matter whose portrait is on my bank notes. Even so, I confess to the teeniest bit of annoyance at seeing unelected foreign royalty displayed prominently in a country that’s otherwise proud of its democracy. But if we’re going to quibble about bank notes, let’s at least get our priorities right. (Pause for laughter. Exit with a flourish.)