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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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Canada's policy time bomb: Rising home prices and homelessness – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
When you watch the news or read the latest macroeconomic data, things in Canada seem good. Unemployment remains near historic lows, interest rates are under control and Canada is back on the list of the top 10 largest economies in the world. Sounds pretty good.

How is it that even with all this good news Canadians remain anxious about our economic state of affairs? Research suggests that there is a fundamental disconnect between the macroeconomic data and how people feel. Only a little more than 15 per cent of Canadians, according to the Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index remain upbeat about the coming year and a significant number of Canadians are outright worried about a recession in 2020.

Views on real estate are a double-edged sword. Canadians who are homeowners feel better when they see housing prices in their neighbourhood rise but the other side of that sword is that for those Canadians that are not homeowners, rising prices make both homeownership more difficult to attain and affordable rentals more elusive to find.

In a new eye-popping national study on homelessness for the Ottawa Mission, a majority of Canadians reported that someone they cared about was at risk of being homeless. Only 35 per cent of respondents reported no one they cared for was at risk of being homeless (43 per cent reported a small risk, 15 per cent a medium risk, and five per cent a high risk). When you walk down the street in your neighbourhood, one in five of your neighbours have someone they care about and think that person may have a high or medium risk of being homeless.

The same study suggests that a majority of Canadians believe that the issue of homelessness will have a serious or somewhat serious impact on Canada as a country. If you live in the hot real estate market of British Columbia or you are a woman, this sentiment rises to eight in ten.

When you factor the current problem of homelessness and overlay population growth in Canada one should become even more concerned. Canada is among the fastest growing countries in the G7 and StatCan projects that Canada could have a population of 48.8 million people by 2050. The forces of population growth and lack of affordable housing will collide with inaction.

The good news is that Canadians do not lay finding a solution at the feet of one level of government. Asked who should be responsible for dealing with homelessness no clear player or level of government comes out way ahead. Twenty-three per cent cite the federal government, 18 per cent municipal and provincial governments, 14 per cent family and friends of the homeless and 16 per cent say everyone should be responsible. This speaks to the need to organize a common sense of purpose.

The unspoken truth is that Canadians are worried that someone they care about is at risk of being homeless. Everyone should take note of this policy time bomb.

Nik Nanos is the Chief Data Scientist for Nanos Research and the Official Pollster for CTV News

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B.C. woman calls for Canada to help extract daughter from quarantined Chinese city – CTV News

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VANCOUVER —
An instructor at a Metro Vancouver university says her daughter is stranded in the quarantined Chinese city of Wuhan, and she’s asking the Canadian government to join France and the United States in their efforts to evacuate their citizens from the area.

Lily Liu, who teaches at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, told CTV News Vancouver her daughter Fiona Dong left for China on Jan. 10 to visit her father and grandparents in Wuhan.

She was planning to stay through the Lunar New Year and leave China on Feb. 10, but changed her departing flight to Jan. 27 as the outbreak of a novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan began to spread, Liu said.

Then, on Wednesday, China cut off all travel into and out of Wuhan, and Dong’s airline cancelled her departing flight, leaving her stranded in the city.

“She is my only daughter,” Liu said. “I’m worried every day. Also, all my family members who are in North America, we are so worried about her.”

She said she has been speaking to Fiona daily since the city was quarantined. She said media reports her daughter has seen in China have suggested the city will be closed “at least eight weeks.”

“The longer she stays there, the more dangerous,” Liu said. “She’s healthy now, but we don’t know, you know, what will happen to her … If she can’t get out now, every day her life is being threatened.”

Liu spent much of Saturday morning on the phone, talking to relatives and trying to get assistance from the Canadian government.

Since cutting off trains, planes and other links to Wuhan, as well as public transportation within the city, China has steadily expanded the lockdown to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million. That’s a greater total population than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined.

On Friday, France confirmed three cases of the coronavirus within its borders, the first three cases reported in Europe. Cases have also been recorded in the United States, Japan, Australia, Malaysia and elsewhere.

French automaker PSA Group says it will evacuate its employees from Wuhan, quarantine them and then bring them to France. The Foreign Ministry said it was working on “eventual options” to evacuate French citizens from Wuhan “who want to leave.” It didn’t elaborate.

U.S media sources, including CNN, have reported that the United States is working on chartering a flight to get Americans out of the country, but the U.S. State Department had not confirmed those efforts Saturday.

Liu said she hoped Canada would make similar plans, but her calls so far have not been fruitful. She said the Canadian government’s advice to travellers so far has been to follow the instructions of the local government in China.

“I’m so frustrated, because if the government doesn’t take any action to help, for us, personally, we have no way to get out of the city,” she said.

Global Affairs Canada has warned Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located and the novel coronavirus was first discovered.

CTV News reached out to Global Affairs to ask about what plans, if any, Canada has for evacuating its citizens from affected areas of China, as well as how many Canadians are currently in the country.

In a statement, the federal agency said it is “closely monitoring the situation.”

“GAC is closely working with Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada to provide guidance to our diplomats serving abroad and their families for staying healthy and safe,” the agency said.

“Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance can contact the Embassy of Canada in Beijing at 86 (10) 5139-4000,” the statement continued. “Canadians can also call the department’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca.”

Global Affairs Canada said it is aware of multiple Canadians who are currently in Hubei province, but it couldn’t provide a concrete number.

With files from the Associated Press and CNN 

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Canada's first 'presumptive positive' case of coronavirus found in Ontario – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Ontario’s chief medical officer has confirmed Canada’s first ‘presumptive positive’ case of coronavirus.

In a news conference Saturday, officials said the man in his 50s fell ill after travelling to Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the outbreak. The patient is in stable condition at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Officials in Ontario have been in contact with Canada’s public health agency and are working in collaboration with Toronto Public Health to “prevent any spread” of the virus.

Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said officials are focused on finding out who the patient may have come into contact with and what types of settings they may have been exposed to.

“It is understandable that people may be concerned with today’s news of our first case and that people may worry,”” de Villa said in a press release.

“But I assure you that based on the lessons we learned from SARS now 17 years ago, and given our experiences during the flu pandemic of 2009 and more recently, with Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, we have learned, shared knowledge and built a stronger public health system that is ready to respond, as needed.”

So far, two coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S. Australia and Malaysia reported their first cases of the virus Saturday, while Japan confirmed a third case. France confirmed three cases Friday, the first in Europe.

China’s National Health Commission confirmed Saturday that the death toll from the new virus had climbed to 41, with the number of people infected rising to 1,287.

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