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Sonia Rodriguez on scrapping the penny Add to ...

Sonia Rodriguez is a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. She will appear in Don Quixote , from March 9 to 13, at Toronto's Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says he regards the penny as "a nuisance." Is it a nuisance for you?

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My first thought is I have more pennies than I need. I remember when we got rid of them in Spain. I remember people complaining that everything gets rounded up to a higher price. There is that fear from a consumer point of view. That you are going to be paying more if you get rid of the penny.

A slim majority of Canadians favour abolishing the penny. Should we?

I'm still not 100-per-cent sure. It's extra weight in my wallet. I think there should be some sort of guideline to protect consumers so prices don't go up. I'd have to see some numbers. If they could put some sort of control, okay, maybe.

What's on the penny?

There's a Maple Leaf … and what's the other half? That's not nice, I'm Spanish. I don't know. The Queen? Yes, the Queen!

How many pennies do you have right now?

I have some in my wallet, I'm sure. Do you want me to check? Let me see - 10, 20, I'd say about 30. I actually use my pennies. I make an effort to pay with my pennies. I don't just pay and get more pennies back. I try to use them up.

The penny coin costs at least 1.5 cents to make. Is that crazy?

It doesn't sound good, does it? That doesn't make sense.

When you were a little girl, what could you buy for a penny?

I grew up in Spain. We had the peseta. As a kid, you could get some candy with it. Not now. We have euros now, but before we switched to euros, we lost the peseta - which is like your cent here.

What can you buy with a penny now?

I cannot think of anything. I'd have to be a child, I guess. There might be some candy - no, I guess not. I can't think of anything.

Are you familiar with the shoe the "penny loafer"? Have you worn them?

I've never worn them, but my husband used to have a pair. He had a penny in it. I couldn't understand when I came here and saw those shoes, why they had a penny in them. He said, well, that's what you do. I think it's a fashion faux pas.

If the penny is abolished, you'll have to put a nickel in. Is that going to look even sillier?

No one's going to do that! No one wears those any more. If the penny goes and the loafers go with them, that's a good enough reason to get rid of the penny as far as I'm concerned.

Throwing coins in a fountain, people usually throw pennies. Do you?

I want my wishes to come true. I throw nickels.

The term "a penny for your thoughts" will become obsolete if the coin is scrapped. Will your thoughts then be worth a nickel?

My thoughts are worth a lot more. You'd keep [the expression]as a penny. It's something you'll pass on, talk about with your grandchildren. A lesson in history.

How will they physically get rid of the 30 billion pennies in circulation?

It's going to take years. Banks will have to accept them for a long time. I think charities should get involved. Bring in your pennies. People don't want them. They can donate them.

To the National Ballet of Canada?

We'll take any pennies out there. We can use them toward new productions.

Or they could be used creatively. What would you say to this suggestion? Get however many pennies it takes, melt them down and forge a 100-foot-tall statue of Karen Kain to stand astride Toronto Harbour like the Colossus of Rhodes.

How about you ask Karen that? Why don't you make a statue of me?

Well, with respect, Karen Kain is better known.

Not if I had the statue! Then I would be better known!

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