Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 10 Stories of 2014

Reflecting back on the previous 12 months it is easy to focus on the negative. The nature of the news is to report tragedy, conflict and controversy. The events that shaped this past year will undoubtedly have a a tremendous impact on years to come.

#10 Airline Tragedies

Three high-profile airplane crashes in 2014 drew the attention of the wold. The mystery of the disappearance of the Malaysian Air flight somewhere in Indian Ocean was the topic of rampant speculation. The shooting down of another Malaysian Air flight in eastern Ukraine drew the conflict in that country to other countries.

#9 Scottish Referendum

There was a time this year when people wondered if the United Kingdom had a future and whether or not it would be plunged into constitutional crisis. To be clear, just avoiding Scottish independence does not mean that questions about the country's future has been settled. This story is definitely ongoing.

#8 Shake-ups in Alberta Politics

In the course of the year Alison Redford became a scandal-ridden premier, resigned as party leader, was replaced by Jim Prentice and then, THEN, the leader of the Official Opposition joined the governing party. Alberta politics has been accused of being exceptionally boring, not this year!

#7 Ontario Municipal Elections

Rob Ford. His banishment from the mayoral office has relieved many Torontonians of the embarrassment of his tenure. John Tory will use his mandate to, hopefully, advance Toronto and the GTHA's interest. There are many new leaders across Ontario, including in Mississauga where Hazel McCallion retired and Brampton where Susan Fennell was kicked out. Change was in the air and will have impacts in the years to come.

#6 Fair Elections Act

Sigh. It spawned an intellectual and political upheaval. This story ranks so highly because the changes will impact an election scheduled for 2015. It's possible we will see more complaints and more voting issues. Fraud is a legitimate risk moving into 2015. The public, media and election officials will have to be vigilant.

#5 Quebec and Ontario's Provincial Elections

Quebec elected a new Liberal (federalist) government and Ontarians (reluctantly?) re-elected a Liberal government. The federalist government in Quebec takes the risk of separatism off the table for a time, again. Ontario's voters made an unusual choice in re-electing the government promising more spending and taxes. The fallout for the Progressive Conservatives and ONDP have shaped provincial politics, municipal and federal politics since.

#4 Feminism and Women

The cultural conversation about women, equality, gender and discrimination continued this year. More and more I see this conversation in the mainstream. Frustratingly it feels like for every step forward it's sometimes two steps back, but a number of news items, such as "Gamergate" and Jian Ghomeshi shows that these issues are cropping up in all sorts of places and being met critically and thoughtfully.

#3 Race Relations in the United States (and elsewhere)

Ferguson. For some people they will never forget the name of Ferguson, Missouri. It has shined a blinding light on police violence and militarization, race relations, equal justice and some of the issues at the heart of America's communities. Canadians should take a pause before feeling high and mighty. Issues in our cities, minority communities, and among Aboriginal Canadians echo the experience to the south. 

#2 Ukrainian-Russian Conflict

This was something I didn't expect to see again. A great power invaded a neighbouring country for territorial gain. The chaos in Ukraine, the human suffering and the threat of wider war has raised fears unknown in many ways since the Cold War. I hope this does not portend a trend for geopolitics or will be repeated in 2015.


ISIS exploded on the international scene this year. The revolutionary ideology of that movement threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East. The draw of radicalists around the world has caused renewed concerns in local terrorist actions that had died down in recent years. The sympathizers' attacks against soldiers and Parliament in this country was a sharp, sad moment for the entire country.

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