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Canada's New $20 Bill Shows Twin Towers, Pornographic Images, Focus Groups Say

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Bank of Canada
Bank of Canada

Some Canadians are balking at a preliminary redesign of the country's $20 bill, saying it's "too pornographic" and has an image that too closely resembles the World Trade Center Twin Towers, according to a focus group study commissioned by the Bank of Canada.

The Bank of Canada unveiled the tentative look of its new $20 polymer note last Wednesday in Ottawa, CTV News reports.

The bill is but one in a new series of bills the country is rolling out in an effort to prevent counterfeiting, extend the life of bills, and "celebrate Canada’s achievements at home, around the world and in space," according to the bank's website.

But when the bank decided to commission a study to gauge Canadians' opinions of the new $20 bill, they found that many participants couldn't recognize its central image, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, and instead mistook it for the Twin Towers, according to CTV News.

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial, which commemorates the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge and honors Canadians who fought in World War I, was also met criticism from Canadians who thought some of the Grecian statues it features -- namely a group of nude women representing truth, faith, justice, charity, knowledge and peace -- are "too pornographic."

Previously released bills in the Bank of Canada's new polymer series have faced similar scrutiny from focus group participants: In a study following the release of the new $100 bill, many people mistook a strand of DNA for a sex toy or the Big Dipper, according to the Canadian Press.

Members of focus groups interviewed about the $50 bill, which features an image of the research ship CCGS Amundsen among other things, saw everything from skulls and crossbones to Pinocchio.

Julie Girard, a spokeswoman for the Bank of Canada, told the Canadian Press that the bank uses findings from the focus groups to tweak the bills' designs before they go into circulation.

"Before and after those focus groups, there were design changes for multiple reasons," she said.

According to the central bank's website, the new $100 and $50 bills are already in circulation. The new $20 bills are expected to be released in November, while the new $10 and $5 bills are expected to be in use by the end of 2013.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the new $100 and $50 bills had not yet been released. The two bills are currently in circulation.

Check out the Bank of Canada's promotional video for the new $20 bill below.

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