The bill features Queen Elizabeth II, who is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this year, on the front of the note. The back pays tribute to the sacrifices of Canadian men and women in military conflicts with an image of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. (Watch the Bank of Canada's video introducing the new bill and the significance of Vimy here.)
However, some people have called elements of the bill "pornographic," while others have noted a resemblance to the Twin Towers that used to stand in lower Manhattan.
The main reason for issuing a new $20 is to prevent counterfeiting threats, said the bank. The new polymer notes are also cheaper and have a smaller environmental footprint. (An image of the back of the $20 note is below.)
The bank hired a research firm to hold focus groups with Canadians to get their opinion on the new currency. They found that not only did most Canadians not know of the Vimy Memorial's existence, but that some of those surveyed said the monument reminded them of New York's World Trade Center that was attacked and destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001, according to an internal report cited in a CTV article.
The memorial, in Vimy, France, commemorates the Battle of Vimy Ridge and honors those who fought and died in the WWI in France and have no known grave. One focus group respondent was critical of the banknote's war imagery given the "climate domestically and around the world" -- as well as Canada's reputation as a peacekeeper. Perhaps a symbol of peace would be better, the participant suggested, according to the report.