It was the year we learned our governments are spying on us. It was the year we found out what the National Security Agency was up to – and if it’s happening in the United States, you know Canada is either doing it too, or is not far behind. It was the year spying’s technical abilities galloped past the legislative controls that would ensure we continue to have privacy. It was the year privacy died.
Lisa Maldonado, Guelph
It was the year of the portly rascal (Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Senator Mike Duffy, ex-McGill University Health Centre head Arthur Porter) and the year when Canadians were confronted with the fact that we aren’t as clean – or as dull – as we thought we were, thanks to the Senate spending scandals and the Charbonneau commission.
Brad Gomez, Montreal
The new narcissism
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s antics were the most visible demonstration of the new narcissism but examples of it were everywhere. It was a combination of rampant egotism, entitlement and a complete lack of self-perception, never mind concern for – or interest in – others. We see it in Stephen Harper, Conrad Black, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and several truckloads of celebrities.
Bonnie Laing, Dunvegan, Alta.
They inspired us
Everything became uncertain in 2013: Something as healthy as running a marathon became a scene of death and destruction; the Americans risked bankruptcy because of one insane faction in their political system; the degradation of our parliamentary democracy continued as PMO secrecy and underhandedness became evident; the Senate moved from a chamber of sober second thought to the home of entitlement and dubious expenses.
And then there was Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station, who showed us the beauty of the the world and its singularity.
Can we make him our leader?
Anne Ward, Ottawa
It was the year of Calgary-under-water and how one mayor, Naheed Nenshi, stood behind his troops and helped the city overcome the devastation. We are still rebuilding and not everyone was as fortunate as we were here.
Kish Starnes, Calgary
The hottest summer on record in Australia, horrific typhoon damage in the Philippines, staggering flood losses in Central Europe and Alberta. Mother Nature took top billing in 2013.
Hazel Simpson, Vancouver
Death with dignity
The most important news story of 2013 was Donald Low’s video, released after his death. On it, Dr. Low said: “There is no place in Canada where you can have support for dying with dignity.”
Why should those with terminal illnesses be forced by law to suffer when simple, humane alternative choices are possible?
It is a huge issue that needs more attention from our our lawmakers. Dr. Low used so much of his little remaining strength to make a plea for the many who walk in his shoes.
He knew his stature as a doctor would give the issue a greater profile – not to help himself, but to help others. Making the video was an heroic act.
Pat Doherty, Toronto
Mandela, the Pope
The top story of 2013 is a choice between the death of Nelson Mandela or the selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis.
Pope Francis, in a time when many people are leaving the church and their belief in God, is showing he is a Pope for the people – all people, including those often shunned by the church. He works tirelessly to bring even non-Catholics, such as myself, to the church and God.
Nelson Mandela broke apartheid and brought freedom to South Africans, giving many millions more hope for the same around the world.
Who will pick up his torch?
Barry Onizak, Winnipeg
A bomb near you
We learned in the most tragic of ways this year that trains can be rolling bombs. Lac-Mégantic paid the price for a sorry failure on the part of transportation authorities to regulate in the public interest.
How many of these potential train-bombs are rolling past our back yards every single day?
Margaret A. Saunders, Montreal
While the Boston Marathon bombing was awful, Boston has had an incredible year. The Red Sox won the World Series, and a couple from Boston won The Amazing Race. While these seem to pale in comparison to what Boston went through, it shows how the city can rally when faced with terrible heartache. Boston is the most important story of 2013.
Michelle Caplan, St. Catharines, Ont.
Mr. Harper’s Senate
The Senate scandal is 2013’s biggest story because Prime Minister Stephen Harper finds himself in the same position as previous governments, even though promising transparency and accountability. As this scandal deepens, it shows an underbelly of government that frankly is disturbing. And it could bring down Mr. Harper as leader.
Helen Mears, Vancouver
Courage in Ukraine
It began as peaceful protests by a small group of students in Kiev’s Independence Square in reaction to the government of Ukraine’s decision to remove any prospects for a democratic, European future. It bloomed to nearly a million after a bloody government crackdown on the protesters and steadily gained momentum.
That’s the story of the year.
Taras Zalusky, Ottawa
After 2013, we need a big “reset” button for Canada’s leaders. The Senate scandal, the Rob Ford debacle, disappointing foreign policy decisions and choosing big oil over the environment are just a few of the indicators that our leaders have lost their way.
Tony Dorrian, Yarmouth, N.S.
It was the year of people behaving badly. Correction: It was the year of people getting caught behaving badly!
Nancy Sendell, Toronto