Pulse of Canada: Who was Canada’s top newsmaker in 2012?

Thomas Bink
Pulse of Canada
This week on the Pulse of Canada we hit the streets to see what Canadian newsmaker made the most impact in 2012.

Each Friday, Yahoo! Canada News asks Canadians where they stand on the important issues of the day, and our panel of experts tackle the same question.

This week we asked:

Who do you think was the top Canadian newsmaker of 2012?

Matthew Coutts: Man, that is a sneakily complicated question, and I guess that is what makes it so fun to debate. It comes down to how you define newsmaker. The Canadian Press named alleged murderer Luka Magnotta as its selection – a decision that raised some ire. But there is no getting around the impact that story had on Canadians. Even our identity was forever changed by the “Canadian Psycho.” It sickens me to give Magnotta the fame he craves, but no person captured our attention more than he did in 2012.

Andy Radia: I understand where you and the editors of the Canadian Press poll are coming from Matt – I really do. But, in all good conscience, I can't and wouldn't bestow any honour upon that man. I echo what Conservative MP James Moore tweeted: "Newsmaker of the year ought not simply be the person with the most Google news hits due to morbid curiosity. Revisit the criteria." I'm not saying the newsmaker has to be a saint – give it to Rob Ford if you want. But don't give it to a narcissistic individual who allegedly stabbed, dismembered and cannibalized another human being. It's also an insult and disrespect for the memory Jun Lin, the alleged victim of Magnotta. I'll give my Canadian Newsmaker nod to Justin Bieber.

Thomas Bink: What?!? Andy, we’re talking about Canadian newsmakers here, not pre-teen idols. I’m on the record for going with Magnotta in the Canadian Press poll, simply because it was such a multi-faceted story. But if you’re looking for someone who had a big influence on Canada beyond the macabre, how about Jason Kenney? He’s revamping Canada’s immigration rules, had a hand in the Nexen takeover bid, and pushed the controversial refugee benefits program. He was in the news throughout the year for changing policy, not just coming up with catchy jingles for teenage girls.

[ Last week's POC: Have the holidays become too politically-correct? ]

Coutts: Yeah, as I wrote earlier I don’t feel good about choosing Magnotta but he really did galvanize the country. And not just in Google news hits. You couldn’t go anywhere without ending up in a conversation about the latest details. But I’d happily remove him from the conversation on ethical reasons. As a Torontonian it is hard not to choose Mayor Rob Ford just based on the sheer quantity of unique headlines he garnered over the course of the entire year. I suspect his impact is stunted elsewhere in the country, but he should be in the conversation. Justin Trudeau would also have to be in the conversation based on his affect (or perceived affect) on the Liberal Party’s fortunes. I wouldn’t give it to him now, but I suspect he is either the Newsmaker of the Year in 2013 or a Stephane Dion-sized political punchline.

Radia: Come on Tom, admit it. You're a closet Bieber fan. I make no apologies for choosing The Biebs. This year he solidified himself as one of the elite artists in the world as evidenced by his third place finish on the Forbes most powerful celebrities list. He's a good Canadian kid who was constantly in the news.

Bink: Andy, I’m honestly thinking you had one too many sips of that special eggnog over the holidays.

Radia: In my defence, I'm not the only one who chose Bieber. Respondents to a Postmedia/Global News survey chose him as well. Long live the Biebs.

Bink: Alright, if there are no constraints on good taste, we’re likely in agreement with CP on Luka Magnotta as the newsmaker of the year. If we put the filters on, there’s no consensus. And you know what? I think that pretty accurately reflects the hodgepodge that was 2012, too.

What do you think? Share your opinions in the comments area below.

Pulse of Canada appears each Wednesday and Friday
on Yahoo! Canada News.