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These were CTVNews.ca's most popular stories of 2019 – CTV News

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TORONTO —
At the end of each year, CTVNews.ca crunches the numbers to see which stories our readers clicked on the most. The topics from our top-10 list are typically eclectic and this year’s was no different – a mix of mystery, tragedy, a few public warnings, and controversies that put the institution of hockey under the spotlight.

Here our CTVNews.ca’s most popular stories of 2019, starting at number 10.

10. Death sentence for Canadian in China of extreme concern: PM

When Canadian Robert Schellenberg was sentenced to death in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian back in January, it marked what appeared to be another escalation in the diplomatic tension between Canada and China. Schellenberg, from Abbotsford, B.C., was convicted of being an accessory to a drug-smuggling operation. He has denied all charges and is still awaiting his fate after a Chinese court in May held an appeal hearing in his case, but did not issue a ruling. His sentence came weeks after the RCMP detained Huawei top executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition warrant.

9. Dashboard video captures moment 52-car train derails near Saskatoon

Dashcam captures CN train derailment

A dashboard camera captured the moment 29 CN train cars loaded with grain derailed at a rural intersection near Saskatoon in January. No one was injured in the incident. The woman who shot the video from a distance, as she sat in her car waiting for the train to pass, told CTV News she was able to feel the impact of the crash, and it was louder than what her recording was able to capture. The Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the derailment.

8. Ottawa woman badly beaten at Mexican resort

Ottawa woman badly beaten in Mexico

Alexandra ‘Lexie’ York was on a family vacation in Cancun in November when she was beaten severely by another guest at the Grand Bahia Principe Tulum resort. Her brother, Mathew York, told CTV News her injuries were so bad that she required nearly 10 hours of plastic surgery. A fundraiser was set up to cover the Ottawa flight attendant’s ongoing care. Mathew wrote on the fundraising site that the response has been “incredibly heartening and overwhelming.” A suspect was charged in the incident with attempted murder.

7. ‘I don’t regret a thing’: Don Cherry speaks out on his firing and Ron MacLean

Don Cherry poses for a photo in Toronto

Hockey culture has come under scrutiny in these final few months of 2019. Prominent coaches lost their jobs; former players came forward to speak about the bad treatment they suffered at the hands of their coaches. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman promised changes: “Inclusion and diversity are not simply buzz words,” he said on Dec 9. “Our message is unequivocal: We will not tolerate abusive behavior of any kind.” TSN’s senior hockey reporter Frank Seravelli called it hockey’s “moment of reckoning.” But the biggest hockey story of the year was Don Cherry being dismissed after 38 years on the air, for “offensive” and “discriminatory” comments he made during a Nov. 9 segment of Hockey Night in Canada.

6. Careful, Canada! This counterfeit cash could fool you

Counterfeit cash

No matter how many security enhancements are made to Canadian banknotes, it seems counterfeiters find ways to keep their fake bills circulating. One Toronto-area resident learned the lesson the hard way and decided to warn others about his experience. He’s hardly alone in being duped by a counterfeiter. It’s become a big enough problem that the central bank had to offer training guides on how to detect counterfeit bills.

5. 32 arrested at Indian call centre that targeted Canadians

Police in India arrested 32 people

Chances are you’ve gotten a phone call purporting to come from either Service Canada, the RCMP or a local courthouse, threatening arrest and imprisonment unless you called back. Unfortunately not everyone hangs up on these scam calls; some even fall victim. When New Delhi police moved in on a call centre they suspected of preying on people on Nov. 17, they say several scam calls were in progress – with associated computer screens displaying Canadian phone numbers. Thirty-two people were arrested and 55 computers were seized that day.

4. Family of 5 returning from Florida vacation killed in wrong way crash

Abbas family funeral

In the early morning hours on Jan. 6, the Abbas family from Michigan was killed in a crash on the I-75 highway as they drove home from a Disney World vacation in Florida. The driver of a pickup truck was travelling in the wrong lanes, striking the family’s SUV and killing all five of them inside. Authorities said the pickup driver, who also died in the crash, had a blood-alcohol level of .306 (anything above 0.08 is illegal). The crash resulted in both state and federal lawmakers working to increase fines and penalties for drunk driving, according to a local report, and to push for installing breathalyzers on new vehicles.

3. World’s cutest dog dies of a broken heart

Boo the Pomeranian

A Pomeranian named Boo with more than 16 million Facebook fans died of a “broken heart” in January, according to the pup’s owners. They believe Boo developed heart issues after his doggy friend Buddy, whom he lived with for 11 years, died in 2017. Boo met and was photographed with celebrities including Anderson Cooper and Seth Rogen, and he even released a book.

2. Election 2019 results and analysis

Liberal supporters

Our federal election live blog which gave readers real-time election updates, analysis and context throughout the night on October 21, was our second-most popular article of 2019. With nearly 1.1 million page views, it was part of a successful election night that saw a new single-day record for visits on CTVNews.ca.

1. Hunter captures strange howl in northern Ontario woods

Beaver Pond in Northern Ontario

A hunter’s recording of a spooky howl deep in the northern Ontario woods captured our readers’ imaginations and propelled this story to number one on our list, with 1.2 million page views and more than 26,000 shares on Facebook. Opinions on what creature made the mournful sound ranged from a dying bear to a Sasquatch (according to commenters on the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization Facebook page, which shared a link to our story). 

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Russia bans Canadian media, sends 34 French diplomats packing

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Moscow, Russia- The Russian government has banned the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) from operating in the country and declared 34 French diplomats persona non grata.

Both moves are a tit-for-tat following Canada’s decision to ban Russia Today in March and France expelling 41 people from Russian diplomatic institutions in April.

“With regret, we continue to notice open attacks on the Russian media from the countries of the so-called collective West who call themselves civilized. A decision has been taken to make retaliatory I emphasize, retaliatory measures in relation to the actions of Canada,” said Maria Zakharova, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

The government also revoked the visas and accreditations of CBC journalists and shut its offices in the capital.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it has designated 34 employees of French diplomatic institutions persona non grata, “They are ordered to leave the territory of Russia within two weeks from the date of delivery of the corresponding note to the Ambassador.”

The Ministry also declared dozens of Italian and Spanish diplomats persona non grata in response to the expulsion of Russian diplomatic staff from the countries.

However, France and Italy castigated the move with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi calling the expulsions a hostile act and emphasizing the importance of diplomatic channels.

On Tuesday, Pyotr Tolstoy, the Deputy-Speaker of Parliament said Russia’s Lower House of Parliament, the State Duma, is planning to discuss the potential withdrawal of the country from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a list of such agreements to the State Duma, and together with the Federation Council (Upper House of Parliament), we are planning to evaluate them and then propose to withdraw from them.

Russia withdrew from the Council of Europe, now the next step is to withdraw from the WTO and the WHO, which have neglected all obligations in relation to our country,” said Tolstoy.

 

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First case of rare monkeypox in the U.S. was someone who recently travelled to Canada – CTV News

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A rare case of monkeypox has been confirmed in a man in Massachusetts who recently travelled to Canada, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 

A Wednesday press release stated that the adult male was tested late Tuesday and was confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The case poses no risk to the public, and the individual is hospitalized and in good condition,” the release stated.

The Masschusetts case is the first case to be reported in the U.S. since the U.K. announced on May 7 that it had detected a case of monkeypox. Since that first case, the U.K. has identified eight more cases. Portugal has reported five cases and Spain is investigating eight potential cases.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said in an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca on Wednesday that they are monitoring the situation, and that Canada has no cases at this stage.

“PHAC is aware of and closely monitoring the current situation concerning the reporting of monkeypox cases in Europe,” a spokesperson said. “No cases have been reported to PHAC at this time.”

Monkeypox is a virus that is common in wild animals such as squirrels, with most cases occurring in Western and Central Africa. Human cases are rare, with the first one recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1970s.

Generally, transmission to humans occurs through a bite or “direct contact with the infected animal’s blood, body fluids, or lesions,” according to Health Canada. Once a human is infected, it is possible for it to spread between humans, but it is not spread easily and has limited transmissibility.

The symptoms of monkeypox can include a fever, muscle aches and fatigue in milder cases. Most cases resolve in a few days, but if the case is more serious, it can progress to a two to four week period in which a rash spreads and develops into pustules on the body, with lesions potentially developing on the mouth, tongue and genitalia.

The virus is similar to smallpox, but is milder and involves the swelling of lymph nodes, which is not found in smallpox cases. In Africa, the case fatality rate is estimated to be around 1-10 per cent. 

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Bulldog willpower and work ethic: Jason Kenney led Alberta through COVID, oil crash

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EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, at the founding convention of his United Conservative Party in 2018, said he’d consider members’ input on policy but the bottom line was simple: “I hold the pen.”

Four years later, the membership took back the pen and made it clear to the driving force behind the reunification of conservatives in Alberta that the writing was on the wall and it was time for him to go.

Jason Kenney, the province’s 18th premier, told a shocked audience of invited guests and cabinet ministers Wednesday that 51 per cent support of party rank and file in his leadership review was not enough to quell internal dissension wracking his party.

He announced he would resign from the top job, saying that while his team had accomplished many things, a lack of unity put it all in jeopardy.

“We reunited the free enterprise movement in Alberta politics, and we won the largest electoral mandate in our province’s history,” said Kenney.

“We inherited profound fiscal and economic challenges. And then we went through three once in a century crises: the largest public health crisis in a century, the largest collapse of the world economy in nearly a century and for the first time ever we experienced negative oil prices.

“Despite all of that we got the job done.”

In his three years as premier, Kenney steered the province through the COVID-19 pandemic while seeking to expand the oil and gas sector, further diversify the economy and remake the public health system. On the strength of soaring oil and gas prices, he balanced the budget for the first time in years.

His trademark was bulldog willpower combined with work ethic and tenacity few could match.

His days often began early with a news conference, then meetings, question period, a speech in the house, party events, fundraisers and more phone calls long into the evening. There were Facebook townhalls and a radio show.

It was a brash, combative populist style that often sought to rally support by dividing Albertans against opponents, both real and perceived.

His favourite target was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government. He blamed it for hamstringing the oil and gas industry through punitive legislation and a consumer carbon tax, but often ignored the fact Ottawa was paying the freight on the TransMountain pipeline to the B.C. coast.

He once publicly dismissed Trudeau as an “empty trust-fund millionaire who has the political depth of a finger bowl.” He characterized a pipeline-opposing U.S. governor as “brain dead.”

He picked fights with doctors, tearing up their master agreement just as the pandemic hit in full force in 2020. His government also tried to cut nurses’ wages.

He decried the folly of fixing the economy by “picking winners and losers” through targeted investments, only to lose $1.3 billion trying to revive the transcontinental Keystone XL pipeline.

His government fought with the Alberta Teachers’ Association and is still implementing a controversial school curriculum that almost all school boards have refused to test drive.

He created a so-called energy war room designed to fight with oil and gas foes. Instead, it stumbled through a series of gaffes, including a public fight with a children’s cartoon about Bigfoot.

His leadership, particularly during the pandemic, exposed contradictions that contributed to low poll ratings even as the economy started bouncing back.

He called for civility in public debate and then handed out earplugs in the house so his members wouldn’t have to listen to the Opposition NDP.

During COVID-19, Kenney tried to steer the province through the middle course, waiting until the last moment — as hospitals were reaching dangerous capacity — before imposing new health restrictions.

When the province reached dangerous levels last fall, to the point that patient triage might have been necessary, he accepted responsibility for not acting and then said he would have acted if the chief medical health officer had recommended it.

When he took over the health system, he blamed the former NDP government for problems he inherited. In recent weeks, as the system has continued to strain under COVID-19, he blamed Alberta Health Services, the front-line care provider.

The end came not from outside but from inside the caucus.

Backbenchers said Kenney had promised to bring them around the decision-making table but instead froze them out. Decisions, they said, were made by Kenney and a clutch of close advisers. Some dissenters found themselves kicked out of caucus.

With Kenney there was controversy. Always controversy.

He defeated Brian Jean in the inaugural 2017 party leadership race. It was later learned his team colluded with another candidate to try to scupper Jean’s chances. Kenney has said he didn’t know anything about it.

When the election commissioner investigated possible wrongdoing in that race, Kenney’s government, while he was away in Texas, introduced and passed a law to fire him. The RCMP continues to investigate allegations of voter identity fraud in that race.

This year, when Kenney’s justice minister, Kaycee Madu, was found to have tried to interfere in the administration of justice by calling Edmonton’s police chief to argue about a traffic ticket, Kenney simply moved him to another cabinet job.

Kenney, 53, has spent much of his adult life in the public eye, famous for saying he can’t help but march to the sound of rhetorical gunfire.

He has fought for conservative principles and the concept of ordered liberty, first as an anti-tax crusader and later as a key lieutenant in former prime minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet in portfolios that included immigration, employment and defence.

He is a Catholic and has spoken out against gay marriage and abortion in the past, but didn’t wade in on those issues as premier.

He is known for his drive, populist instincts and a nose for the political jugular.

To win the UCP leadership, he drove back and forth across Alberta in a blue pickup truck to meet and greet thousands of supporters and fence-sitters. In less than two years, he got 87 constituency associations and candidates running.

The blue pickup truck has become part of his persona.

Perhaps in a harbinger of what was to come, Kenney recently had that same truck at a news conference to announce a cut in gas taxes.

As the cameras rolled, Kenney filled up his tank, then pulled, yanked, yanked and yanked — at one point using two hands — in a failed attempt to pull out the hose.

Finally, he gave up, turned and looked sheepishly at the crowd.

The pickup was stuck.

And this time, there was no one to blame.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2022.

 

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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