Stamps, coins, should feature Canadians, not royals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 19, 2016 –Toronto    A patriotic group seeking to give Canada its own head of state is calling on Canada Post to honour Canadians on its stamps instead of royalty in Britain. It’s also asking the Mint to put Canadians on the head of Canadian coins–something the Mint has never done. The requests come from Republic Now after the release, last week, of a new stamp picturing Queen Elizabeth–the second one to feature her in just 17 weeks. The latest issue coincided with the birthday of John A. Macdonald, whom the organization says is a more fitting subject.

“When portraits are chosen for everyday Canadian stamps,  those of historic Canadians should be used,” says Republic Now spokesperson Wayne Adam. “If a stamp comes out on John A. Macdonald’s birthday, the postal service should consider picturing him, not another image of Queen Elizabeth. British royalty has been wildly overexposed on our stamps, impeding Canadians who might otherwise have been honoured.”

In the 165 years since we’ve had postage stamps in this country, no Canadian has been on a regular (definitive) first-class stamp. Not one. Elizabeth Windsor, as a princess or queen, has appeared on some 76 Canadian stamps, sometimes on multiple issues in a single year. By contrast, Macdonald, the chief architect of Confederation, has appeared on just four stamps in the past 89 years, and never on a first-class definitive.

A national stamp program that presumably strives to balance numerous competing stamp topics seems to have lost all rationality when it comes to royalty. Recent years have seen multiple stamps for Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince George. Stamps have been issued for a royal engagement, a wedding, a birth, a tour of Ottawa, a 100th birthday, anniversaries of accession, coronation, jubilees (silver, golden, diamond)–and last September, the longest reign of a British–not a Canadian–monarch.
Moreover, post office rules insist regular queen stamps be featured at every postal outlet’s countertop display.

Canada Post contends its stamps offer something for everyone. That is not a rationale for a fixation on foreign royals. Canadian stamps should celebrate Canadians and their achievements, not the milestones of a famous British family. Let Britain’s Royal Mail do that.

Beyond that, the cost of constant designs, approvals, and production of new Elizabethan stamps is unnecessary when existing stockpiles can be used and reprinted, if needed. Their Permanent (“P”) denomination means new stamps are not required for rate changes. For an agency that says it’s being squeezed into cutting costs, including reducing door-to-door delivery, obvious savings can be had by halting the seemingly never-ending tributes to the House of Windsor.

“Every time our stamps picture a British royal, we deflect a high honour overseas, and lose a chance to honour a Canadian,” says Adam. “The stamps and coins of an independent nation on the eve of its 150th anniversary should celebrate its own people and achievements, not those living in the palaces of a foreign country.”

Elsewhere, the Royal Canadian Mint has *never* featured a Canadian on the head of a Canadian coin in its 108-year history. Republic Now calls on the Mint to reverse this policy, saluting Canadians on the obverse of all its coins.

“As we marked John Macdonald’s 201st birthday,” says Adam, “it’s unfathomable that his effigy has never graced the front of a Canadian coin. The Mint creates dozens of designs every year, but has never seized the chance to cheer a Canadian on the obverse of a single coin. It’s baffling, and it needs to change.” Even Jamaica, which shares Elizabeth as its queen, puts national heroes on its coins.

Republic Now urges people to contact the Stamp Advisory Committee at Canada Post (stamps@canadapost.ca) and the Royal Canadian Mint (themes@mint.ca) to support a moratorium on British royalty on our stamps and coins, and it welcomes new members who feel the same.

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Republic Now is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization advocating a Canadian head of state — one who shares our citizenship, lives in this country, and is chosen by Canada in a democratic way.

Media contact:
Wayne Adam
media@republicnow.ca

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