Year in review: A look at news events in March 2021

·10 min read

A look at news events in March 2021:

2 - Gross domestic product shrank 5.4 per cent in 2020, making it the worst year for the Canadian economy since the agency started keeping records in 1961. The economy did grow at a better-than-expected annualized rate of 9.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year. But that was down from growth of 40.6 per cent in the third quarter.

3 - A Toronto-area man was found guilty on 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of attempted murder in the April 2018 Toronto van attack. Twenty-eight-year-old Alek Minassian had admitted planning and carrying out the attack but argued he should be found not criminally responsible for his actions due to his autism spectrum disorder.

3 - Security was tight around the U.S. Capitol after police received a bulletin about a possible militia plot to storm the building the next day. March 4 is the American Constitution's original date for the presidential inauguration and it's also the day QAnon conspiracy theorists believed former president Donald Trump would return to power. The bulletin described a possible plot to use diversionary tactics like an explosive to draw police away from the Capitol prior to a takeover attempt.

4 - The man long revered as Canada's ultimate hockey dad died. Walter Gretzky -- the southern Ontario hockey nut who taught The Great One the basics of the game -- passed away at age 82. Wayne Gretzky announced the news on social media the night before.

5 - Health Canada gave the green light to Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine, saying the evidence shows it is both safe and effective.

7 - Prince Harry and his wife Meghan's interview with Oprah Winfrey included talk of racist attitudes toward their son, Meghan's thoughts of suicide, news that Prince Charles isn't taking his son's calls -- and a baby gender reveal. Meghan said when she was pregnant with son Archie, there were concerns and conversations about how dark the boy's skin might be.

9 - Golf Canada cancelled the RBC Canadian Open for the second year in a row. The PGA Tour event had been slated to run from June 9 to 13 at St. George's Golf and Country Club in Toronto. It said it would not be held because of pandemic-related logistical challenges.

9 - Lt.-Gen. Frances Allen was named vice-chief of defence staff. She took over from Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau, who was given the newly created role of strategic adviser to the current acting chief of defence staff, Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre.

10 - German lawyer Thomas Bach was re-elected as president of the International Olympic Committee by a vote of 93-1. He said his immediate focus of his final four-year term was the delayed Tokyo Games.

10 - A Manitoba man who rammed a gate at Rideau Hall before arming himself and heading on foot toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's home was sentenced to six years in prison. But with time served, that's down to five. Corey Hurren, a 46-year-old sausage-maker and military reservist, had faced 21 weapons charges and one count of threatening the prime minister.

10 - Two million Canadians had now received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. About 580,000 people had received both doses.

11 - Rapper Cardi B made history as the first female rapper to have a single certified as diamond, with "Bodak Yellow'' selling more than 10 million copies.

11 - Canada marked a national day of observance of the first anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Across Canada, flags flew at half-mast and wreaths were laid at memorials.

14 - AstraZeneca defended its COVID-19 vaccine after a number of European countries halted its use due to blood-clotting concerns. The company's chief medical officer said a safety review of more than 17 million patients in Europe and the U.K. showed the product is safe.

14 - Alberta's top doctor said the first cases of a COVID-19 variant first identified in Brazil had surfaced in the province. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said both cases were travel-related and the patients in question were already self-isolating.

14 - Canadian artists walked away with a number of Grammy awards, in a night that had Canucks nominated in 23 of the 83 categories. Montreal-raised DJ Kaytranada won best dance recording for his song "10 per cent,'' and best dance or electronic album for "Bubba.'' Justin Bieber won best country duo or group performance for "10,000 Hours,'' a hit single recorded with country pair Dan and Shay.

15 - More than three million Canadians had now received a shot of COVID-19 vaccine.

15 - The prime minister said the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe. Justin Trudeau said Health Canada has made sure every vaccine approved in Canada is both safe and effective. ''The very best vaccine for you to take is the first one that is offered to you,'' he said. Multiple countries had paused usage of the vaccines made by Oxford-AstraZeneca over concerns they cause blood clots.

16 - Prince Philip was released from hospital following a month-long stay. The Queen's husband was admitted to a private London hospital on Feb. 16 for treatment of an infection. He was later transferred to a specialized cardiac care hospital to undergo a heart procedure.

17 - The federal government rejected Iran's explanation of human error for the shooting down of an airliner from Ukraine in January 2020. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra largely dismissed the 145-page document, which was posted to the website of Iran's Civil Aviation Organization. They said the report made no attempt to answer critical questions about what truly happened.

17 - A revised bill to expand access to medical assistance in dying received royal assent after passing in the Senate by a vote of 60-25, with five abstentions. The new version of Bill C-7 immediately expanded access to intolerably suffering individuals who are not approaching the natural end of their lives, in compliance with a 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling.

18 - The drug regulatory agency of the European Union said experts concluded the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is not linked to an overall increase in blood clot risk.

19 - One of the two Canadians known as "The Two Michaels'' finally had his trial in China on charges on spying and illegally sending state secrets abroad. But the proceedings were held behind closed doors, and the outcome was unknown. Canadian consular officials were denied permission to attend the hearing against entrepreneur Michael Spavor at a court in Dandong, China.

21 - The City of Toronto marked a sombre anniversary. It had been one year since the first Torontonian died of COVID-19.

22 - Twenty-six countries sent representatives to stand outside the Chinese court where Canadian Michael Kovrig was put on trial. As was the case with Canadian Michael Spavor's trial, the Canadian Embassy's deputy chief of mission was refused entry.

22 - Canada joined the U.S., the EU and the United Kingdom in levying sanctions against China over its actions against Uyghur Muslims. The federal government said mounting evidence pointed to state-led abuses by Chinese authorities against more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities based on their religion and ethnicity.

24 - Health Canada's chief medical adviser said a warning would be added to the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine about a rare possible side-effect of blood clots. But Dr. Supriya Sharma said that didn't change the department's position that the vaccine's benefits outweigh its risks.

24 - One of the world's biggest cargo ships turned sideways and blocked all traffic in the Suez Canal. About 50 ships per day usually traverse the narrow, man-made waterway that divides continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula. It's not clear what caused the Panamanian-flagged container ship MV Ever Given to turn sideways, but high winds may have been to blame.

24 - Canada imposed new sanctions on nine senior Russian officials, including two senior members of President Vladimir Putin's office and the head of Russia's security service. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said the sanctions were in response to what he called gross and systemic human-rights abuses, including the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

24 - Donald Sobey, former president and chairman of Empire Company and the son of the Sobeys grocery store founder, died. He was 86 years old. Michael Medline, president and CEO of Empire and its wholly owned subsidiary Sobeys, said the companies are indebted to him for his leadership, business acumen and passion.

24 - Hollywood great Jessica Walter died. Walter played the scheming matriarch Lucille Bluth in TV's "Arrested Development.'' Her death at age 80 was confirmed by her daughter, Brooke Bowman. Her best-known film roles included playing the stalker in Clint Eastwood's 1971 thriller "Play Misty for Me.''

25 - The Supreme Court of Canada said the federal carbon price is entirely constitutional. The high court decided to uphold the part of the Liberal climate-change plan that had been challenged by Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Chief Justice Richard Wagner said if even one province fails to reduce their emissions, it could greatly impact the rest of the country.

26 - Quebec Premier François Legault says the province was starting to see the beginning of a third wave of COVID-19. Legault said it largely consists of the variants but he wasn't intending to change any measures for now.

27 - Canadian Blood Services reassured the public that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through blood. It said since COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, there's no danger in receiving blood from someone who has been infected with the coronavirus. It also said it's safe to get blood from someone who has received a COVID-19 vaccine.

27 - The Newfoundland and Labrador Liberals under leader Andrew Furey were re-elected with a slim majority after a campaign that dragged on for 10 weeks because of the pandemic.

29 - Tugboats blared their horns in jubilation as they guided the newly freed container ship Ever Given' through the Suez Canal. The ship spent almost a week wedged sideways in the waterway, halting billions of dollars a day in maritime commerce.

29 - Federal immunization experts changed their recommendations for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization said the vaccine should not be used on people under the age of 55. It was approved the previous month for everyone over 18. But at the time, the committee said there weren't enough seniors included in clinical trials to be confident about how the vaccine would perform on people over the age of 65.

30 - Canada signed a joint declaration with 13 other countries voicing concerns about an international report on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement outlined their unease after World Health Organization experts went to study the original outbreak of the virus in China's Wuhan province. They decried what they called the significant delays and lack of access to complete, original data and samples that the international study team faced in China.

30 - G. Gordon Liddy, a mastermind of the Watergate burglary and a radio talk show host after emerging from prison, died at age 90. Liddy, a former FBI agent and army veteran, spent four years and four months in prison, including more than 100 days in solitary confinement. After his release, Liddy became a popular, often provocative radio talk show host.

31 - Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12. Pfizer's vaccine was already authorized for ages 16 and older, but the announcement was based on a U.S. study of 2,200 volunteers aged 12 to 15.

The Canadian Press

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting