So what were the most newsworthy stories in 2011? From disasters, to politics, to events at home and abroad, one word seems it sum it up: Upheaval.
It defined both the Legislature and the House of Commons. Christie Clark dumped her daytime gig with CKNW for some knuckle-dusting as premier. It’s been a bit of a punch-up ever since with the dumping of the HST, a re-think about a quick election, the scattering of some MLA’s, Barry Penner among them, an upcoming bad news budget, and in December a survey by Forum Research Inc., putting NDP leader Adrian Dix ahead in the approval rating with 37 per cent while Clark is at 29 per cent approval and new Conservative leader John Cummins with 23 per cent. A November Angus Reid poll put voting intentions for NDP at 40 per cent, the Liberals 31 per cent, the B.C. Conservatives at 18 per cent.
In May Prime Minister Harper got handed his dream, the majority card, at the federal election. But it was Jack Layton who captured hearts and minds. The NDP nearly tripled their seat count and with 103 seats they became the nation’s Official Opposition. But at the pinnacle of his career, Layton was struck down by cancer as, in August, a stunned and saddened nation grieved at his state funeral.
Overseas, the world was shaking, literally, in Japan where on March 11th it experienced a 9.0 magnitude megathrust earthquake, the largest ever in the country and among the five largest quakes in the world since 1900. Tsunami waves reached heights of 40 metres. It shifted earth’s axis, changed the length of the day as the Earth’s rotation sped up, and moved parts of northeast Japan eastward, making its landmass wider. There were 15,842 death, 5,890 were injured and 3,485 people missing.
In February, we were horrified by news of the slaughter of dogs in Whistler. In June, the hockey riot shamed Vancouver. In July, the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, aka Will and Kate, charmed the nation, and in the fall the disgruntled against corporate Canada went on a Occupy rant.
The economy ticked along then got caught up in the roller coaster ride of the last few months. It was a protectionist attitude toward the economy that became Harper’s excuse for pulling Canada out of the Kyoto Accord at the climate conference in Durban earlier in December
Upheavals continued abroad starting in January with what became known as the Arab spring of discontent. Tunisians took up the disruptive cause with the ousting of their President after demonstrations incited by high unemployment, food costs, and corruption. Other Middle Eastern countries followed including Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, with one of the bloodiest being Libya and the killing of Muammah Gaddafi.
In a brazen attack, Osama bin Laden was killed in May in Pakistan by U.S. special ops. But that hardly dusts off future threats to the civilized world. Turning toward 2012, there are murmurs of a Middle East war. Eyes are on Iran and its potential (if not reality) for nuclear weapons, triggering worries of a regional nuclear arms race that could lead to pre-emptive military action against Iran by Israel and/or the U.S. There are fears Iran may prevent access to the Strait of Hormuz, a vital waterway between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman through which 40 per cent of the world’s oil is shipped.
President Obama may have shown quiet pride in returning troops home from Iraq this Christmas. But a heavy diplomatic presence remains with eyes on Iraq’s most influential neighbour.
If 2011 was a year of upheaval, watch out for 2012