It’s been an eventful year in the world and many Canadians played key roles.
It was a landmark 12 months for Canadian politics with new leaders being chosen for the Conservatives and New Democrats.
A new face rose to the top of his class in hockey, while another made his triumphant return to the Octagon.
A former astronaut came back down to earth to become the newest Governor General, while a well-known woman on the West Coast saw her time in politics come to an end.
And of course, there was a ton of interest in Canada’s two most famous Justins.
Yahoo Canada put together a list of some of the biggest newsmakers of the year. These are people who made a splash on news pages from coast to coast.
The Canadian Press named Gord Downie their newsmaker of the year on Tuesday. It was the second year in a row for the late Tragically Hip frontman.
Have your say on Canada’s top 2017 newsmaker by voting in the quiz below.
Jagmeet Singh emerged as a new face on the national politics scene when he emerged victorious at the NDP leadership election in October. The Ontario MPP stormed to victory on the first ballot after running a campaign where he confidently declared he “will not lose.” He was also part of a viral video moment where he was confronted by a heckler, which garnered worldwide attention. It hasn’t been all good news for the trained lawyer. Despite being the party’s leader, he has yet to find a spot for himself as an MP in Parliament. Also, his party performed poorly in the four byelections that have taken place since he’s been elected party leader. Despite all this, Singh has been called a “game-changer” in Canadian politics for being the first Sikh person to lead a major party.
Julie Payette was chosen to be Canada’s 29th Governor General in July before being sworn in October. During that transition period, Payette made headlines after an iPolitics report emerged claiming that she had an expunged assault charge on her record from 2011. Payette told iPolitics the charges against her were “cleared many years ago,” but questions remained. The former astronaut survived the media scrutiny, met with the Queen and replaced David Johnston in the months that followed. In November, Payette publicly chastized climate change deniers and those who believe in horoscopes, astrology and creationism. Critics called her out for alienating religious people, a group that makes up a significant percentage of the Canadian population.
Justin Bieber is a name known around the world and his global presence only grew in 2017. The pop star stunned fans in July when he suddenly cancelled the remaining dates on his world tour “due to unforeseen circumstances.” The news came a week after the singer made headlines for being banned from performing in China due to “bad behaviour.” Bieber sang vocals on a version of the hit song Despacito, which set a record with more than four billion views on YouTube and tied another for most weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. To put icing on the cake, Bieber reportedly got back together with his ex-girlfriend, Selena Gomez, solidifying a power couple in the entertainment world.
Bill Morneau was in the news quite often in 2017, especially for a federal finance minister. Some small business owners were irate with him and the Liberals for proposing controversial changes in July aimed at reducing “income sprinkling,” which allows businesses to pay less taxes. The proposal was later adjusted after complaints mounted. In November, it was reported that the federal ethics commissioner was investigating Morneau’s role in a pension bill for potential conflicts of interest. Morneau sponsored the bill while he still owned stocks in Morneau Shepell, a pension company. Facing a barrage of questions in Parliament about his dealings, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called on Morneau to resign.
After months of rumours, Georges St-Pierre signed a new deal with the UFC in February, setting the stage for a highly-anticipated comeback to the sport he left as welterweight champion in 2013. St-Pierre was scheduled to fight Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight championship, but the fight was in limbo until it was finally scheduled for November. St-Pierre gained weight for the bout (middleweight is 15 pounds heavier than welterweight) and was able to defeat Bisping with a rear-naked choke in the third round, becoming the fourth UFC fighter to win titles in two different weight classes. Weeks later, St-Pierre revealed he had been diagnosed with colitis and vacated his title.
Andrew Scheer surprised many when he edged out front-runner Maxime Bernier to become the new leader of the federal Conservatives in May. Scheer narrowly defeated Bernier by less than one per cent on the final round of voting. Despite being the youngest MP to serve as House Speaker, it appears many Canadians were unfamiliar with Scheer. According to Google’s Year in Search trends, Scheer was the most searched Canadian politician of 2017. As Opposition leader, he’s been leading the charge against Justin Trudeau and the Liberals in Parliament for much of the year. He called out the prime minister for defending the Governor General after her “divine intervention” comments that Scheer claims “offended millions of Canadians.”
It was a whirlwind year for Christy Clark, who began 2017 as the premier of British Columbia before retiring from political life less than seven months later. Clark ran a hotly-contested political campaign against the rival New Democrats, which included a viral moment caught on camera between herself and a voter at a grocery store, who told Clark she wouldn’t vote for her. The B.C. Liberals failed to win a majority after coming one seat short in the legislature. Her minority government was defeated on a confidence vote in June. Despite her failure to secure another mandate for the Liberals in the province, her decision to bow out of politics was a shock for many. “I am done with public life,” Clark said in July after more than six years as premier.
Connor McDavid lived up to the hype surrounding him with an impressive showing in 2017. In June, the Edmonton Oilers star won his first Hart Trophy for being the most valuable player in the NHL, becoming the third-youngest player ever to do so. He also took home the Ted Lindsay Award, which goes to the most outstanding player as voted by the players. After his 100-point season, McDavid was named the cover athlete for EA Sports’ NHL 18 and spearheaded an advertising campaign for the video game. He followed that news by signing an eight-year contract extension in July, worth $100 million. The deal is the third-most expensive in NHL history.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off 2017 with a statement on Twitter that declared “diversity is our strength,” referring to Canada, which got more than 750,000 likes. He’s had a careful approach with U.S. President Donald Trump as NAFTA was put under the microscope. Trudeau was publicly chastized by Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines for speaking out against violence in the country. He’s also faced heat at home for his controversial trip to the Bahamas that cost taxpayers more than $215,000 last winter. In July, he landed on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. In December, Trudeau was ranked No. 2 on LinkedIn’s list of top influencers worldwide.
Downie was the readers’ pick for last year’s Canadian newsmaker of the year, but one could argue he was more newsworthy in 2017. Downie ranked No. 2 in Canadian News for Google’s Year in Search trends. The Tragically Hip frontman died in October after a battle with terminal brain cancer. His death spurred memorials from coast to coast and led to a viral moment where the prime minister was emotional talking about the loss. Downie dedicated his final months of life speaking out for more support of First Nations. He was even able to release a solo album, Introduce Yerself, which was made public in October. His work toward advancing Indigenous issues led him to be appointed to the Order of Canada in June.