20 times Canada captured worldwide headlines in 2017
Canadian Captain Megan Couto, left, makes history by becoming the first female Captain of the Queen's Guard as she takes part in the Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London, Monday, June 26, 2017. (Matt Dunham/AP)
Meredith MacLeod, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, December 22, 2017 5:55AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 22, 2017 9:04AM EST
From terror attacks to the death of a music icon, from gender-neutral passports to legalized pot, Canada has garnered plenty of international headlines in 2017.
CTVNews.ca has compiled some of the biggest Canadian news stories that went worldwide.
The fatal shooting of six people shot in the back as they prayed at a Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29 made headlines around the world. Another 19 people were wounded in the attack.
A French-Canadian man, Alexandre Bissonnette, faces six charges of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder. He is said to be an anti-immigration adherent of the far right.
2. Legal pot
Canada’s move to legalize recreational marijuana use by July 2018 got plenty of worldwide attention.
Canada will become only the second nation after Uruguay to completely legalize marijuana as a consumer product. The legislation allows home growers up to four plants and requires licences for commercial growers. Each province will govern how the drug will be distributed and sold.
Between four million and six million Canadians will use cannabis recreationally next year, Health Canada estimates.
Canada accepted a large number of asylum seekers coming from the U.S. this year, many saying they feared being deported under Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown.
As of mid-October, more than 15,000 people have crossed the U.S.-Canadian border illegally to claim refugee status in Canada. Most came via the Quebec-New York border, which prompted the Canadian military to set up a temporary tent encampment. Officials also set up temporary shelters at Olympic Stadium, a former convent and a decommissioned hospital.
Trudeau responded to Trump’s immigration ban order in January by tweeting: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada”.
Opposition critics called the tweet irresponsible and said it gave false hope to asylum seekers. At an August press conference, the prime minister said Canada’s “rigorous” immigration rules have to be followed. “Canada is an opening and welcoming society. But let me be clear. We are also a country of laws.”
Canada announced plans to increase its defence budget by nearly three-quarters over the next decade, after coming under pressure from the United States to boost military spending.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the budget would jump by 73 per cent to $32.7 billion in 2026-27 from $18.9 billion in 2016-17. The announcement came after Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada would have to play a larger global role as the administration of Donald Trump retreated from multilateralism.
Canada’s $750-million settlement with victims of the Sixties Scoop, in which indigenous children were forcibly taken from their families and put up for adoption by non-Native families in Canada and around the world, made headlines.
Said the New York Times: “The settlement — affecting as many as 30,000 people — is part of a broader push across Canada in the last few years to grapple with its legacy of injustices against the country’s indigenous populations.”
Quebec’s law banning people from wearing full-face veils when giving or receiving public services, was partially suspended by a judge Dec. 1, handing a provisional victory to civil liberties groups who argued that the law is unconstitutional and discriminates against Muslim women.
The judge ordered the government to clarify how the law will be applied and how exemptions might be granted. The law was passed in October and casts a broad swath: all public servants, teachers, students, hospital workers, police officers, bus drivers and transit users.
Other jurisdictions, including France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria have imposed restrictions on the wearing of full-face veils in public places. Denmark plans to institute its own ban.
Somali refugee Abdulahi Hasan Sharif faces 11 charges, including five counts of attempted murder after an Edmonton police officer was hit by a car and stabbed on Sept. 30, before a truck plowed into people walking a busy street. Four people were injured.
The attack followed a pattern of terrorist attacks carried out in New York City and Europe. Sharif was investigated for “espousing extremist ideology” in 2015 and an Islamic State group flag was seized from the car after the September attack. But police believe Sharif acted alone.
The public outpouring of grief, including a tearful statement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following the death of Canadian musical legend Gord Downie, captured worldwide attention. The beloved frontman of Canadian rock band the Tragically Hip died Oct. 17 after a battle with brain cancer.
A new Holocaust monument in Ottawa that failed to mention Jews or anti-Semitism captured plenty of international attention.
The federal government removed a plaque after critics blasted the omission. An Edmonton rabbi who chaired the advisory council on the monument’s creation blamed the “egregious error” on inattentiveness. Canadian officials spent more than a decade planning and building the monument, which is made up of six triangular structures depicting a star.
Canada’s move to allow gender-neutral identification on passports and other government documents got plenty of global attention. Canada joined Australia, Denmark, Germany, Malta, New Zealand and Pakistan in allowing an X or unspecified category.
India, Ireland and Nepal are among the other countries that provide various third-options.
“All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves, live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose,” Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said in a statement announcing the changes.
11. Air Canada investigations
Air Canada made headlines for two mishaps at San Francisco airport.
In July, a jet with 140 people on board came within metres of landing on a taxiway where four planes were waiting for takeoff. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the Air Canada pilots mistook the taxiway for the runway next to it where they had been cleared to land. Experts said it was very close to becoming among the worst disasters in aviation history.
Then, in October, another Air Canada jet travelling from Montreal did not respond to six commands and a red light warning from the control tower to abort its landing. The Airbus A320 was given initial clearance to land but air traffic controllers reversed the clearance, fearing a plane that had just landed would not be cleared in time. Though the flight landed without incident, the FAA and Air Canada said they are investigating.
The federal government’s controversial apology and $10.5-million payout to Omar Khadr garnered international attention.
The former Guantanamo Bay prisoner pleaded guilty to killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan when he was 15. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2010 that Khadr had been interrogated under “oppressive circumstances.”
The Canadian-born Khadr, who spent 13 years behind bars, sued the federal government for $20 million for breaching his civil rights. The government acknowledged Canadians are divided over Khadr – with some seeing him as a terrorist and others as a child soldier subjected to torture – but that there had been clear violations of Khadr's Charter rights by Canadian officials.
Canadian Special Operations Command officials confirmed in June that one of its special forces snipers had shattered a record for the longest kill shot when he killed an Islamic State insurgent in Iraq in May from a distance of 3.54 kilometres.
The shot eclipsed the previous record of 2.5 kilometres by a British sniper set in 2009. The news coverage included some admiring – and incredulous – commentary, including a Washington Post story that pointed out that while Canada’s military size and budget are “miniscule” compared to that of the U.S., Canada has highly skilled soldiers, some of the best snipers in any military and the record-setting shot “fits a long tradition of expert marksmanship among Canadian soldiers.”
Canada celebrated its 150th birthday with a year-long nationwide patriotic party, culminating in a July 1 bash in Ottawa, which included a performance by Irish rockers U2.
"When others build walls, you open doors; when others divide, your arms are open wide; where you lead, others follow," lead singer Bono said.
“Canada is a country made strong not in spite of our differences but because of them," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the gathering.
Bernd Zabel, a Hamilton, Ont. judge who wore a Donald Trump Make America Great Again hat into court after the U.S. election, certainly captured the world’s attention.
Zabel later apologized for what he called a “misguided attempt to mark a moment in history.” He said wearing the hat was not meant to be a political statement or to endorse the political views of Trump. In September, a discipline panel of the Ontario Judicial Council suspended Zabel, a 27-year veteran of the bench, for 30 days without pay.
16. Trade spat
“Who knew Trump would go after Canada?” CNN asked in April. “President Trump is picking his first trade fight with ... Canada. That's not a typo.”
U.S. President Donald Trump’s tough talk about NAFTA, along with new tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber, garnered plenty of headlines in 2017 and lots of angst on the Canadian side of one of the world’s biggest trade relationship.
Canada repeatedly signalled throughout the year that it was seeking to grow its international trade partners but would also look for a one-on-one trade deal with the U.S. should NAFTA negotiations fail.
Rocks found in the Nuvvuagittuq supracrustal belt in Quebec are believed to be the world’s oldest fossils, formed as many as 4.28 billion years ago.
The microfossils are believed to be the remains of bacteria that once thrived underwater. If correct, these fossils offer the oldest direct evidence for life on the planet. The researchers from University College in London said in an article published in the journal Nature in March that the discovery supports the idea that life emerged and diversified rapidly on Earth.
It was the handshake watched around the world when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made his highly anticipated first visit to the White House of Donald Trump in February.
Trudeau appeared ready to take on the new president’s forceful handshake style that had almost taken other leaders off their feet. He held his own, which was hailed by plenty of Canadians as a symbolic victory.
It was also the source of much merriment on Twitter, with one user calling it “the biggest display of dominance in the history of Canada.”
And more recently the PM, the country’s first leader to march in a gay pride event, is on the current issue of Attitude, a U.K. gay magazine. The magazine calls him “arguably the world’s most pro-LGBT political leader” and Canada “a shining example” of diversity and inclusion.
Trudeau’s cover issue came out just days after he issued an apology for the historic persecution of LGBTQ people in Canada.
Canadian soldier Megan Couto became the first female infantry officer to lead the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in June. The 24-year-old led 40 fellow soldiers of the Queen’s Guard during the 180-year-old ceremony.
Couto and her unit, the Second Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, served as the Queen's Guard in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary. The 35-piece Royal Canadian Artillery Band performed Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah” and the theme song to “Hockey Night in Canada.”
20. Love over hate
CNN ran a story about how now NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh handled a racist barrage directed at him during a campaign stop in September under the headline: “The Canadian politician who could teach Americans a lesson in love.”
The irate woman screamed at Singh about Shariah and the “Muslim brotherhood” even though he is Sikh. Singh “chose love” in responding to the verbal abuse, said CNN. "We don't want hatred to ruin a positive event, so let’s show people how we treat people with love,” said Singh, who went on to win the leadership race to become the first visible minority to lead a federal political party.