What do you think were the big news stories of 2011?


On Cross Country Checkup: Year end review
As the end of 2011 draws near, Checkup looks back at this year's big news stories.

What are the stories that stand out in your memory?
With host Rex Murphy.

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Today we want to take a look back at the year, almost past ...and try to pick out the big news stories for which this year will be remembered.

Canadian or international ...there are a lot of things that stand out. For example, from our own general election to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan; from the Vancouver riot, to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

On the war front: Canada's combat role in Afghanistan ended, the US pulled its troops out of Iraq; while NATO planes were sent into Libya.

And on a friendlier front: the newlywed royal couple, William and Kate chose Canada for their first public tour.

What got your attention this past year? Was it Sidney Crosbie's concussion ...or the passing today of former Czech leader Vaclav Havel?

Whether you focus on people, events, or things ...could it be called the year of Mark Carney, as the Governor of the Bank of Canada was picked to head the world's Financial Stability Board at a time when financial institutions everywhere are looking for guidence? Was it the year democracy burst out as the Arab Spring raised hopes around the world ...while simultaneously raising darker fears as the not so democratically inclined found new opportunity?

Or closer to the ground, 2011 was supposed to be the year of the electric car, as it was hoped to be ...but perhaps next year?

Give us your best shot, and if news is history in the making, we'll get the jump on writing it.

Our question today: "What do you think were the big news stories of 2011?"

I'm Rex Murphy, on CBC Radio One, and on Sirius satellite radio channel 159, this is Cross Country Checkup.


  • Rob Russo
    Ottawa Bureau Chief, Canadian Press

  • André Pratte
    Chief Editorial writer, La Presse and author of a biography of Wilfred Laurier in Penguin's Extraordinary Canadians series.

  • Joan Murray
    Art Historian and author of several books including Canadian Art in the Twentieth Century and most recently, A Treasury of Tom Thomson (Douglas & McIntyre)

  • Deborah Yedlin
    Business columnist for the Calgary Herald.

  • Janice MacKinnon
    Professor of history and public policy at the University of Saskatchewan, and former Saskaskastchewan Minister of Finance.





Globe and Mail


The year's biggest story is the mostly ignored story underlying the cause of the "Occupy" movement. It is this: the 1% have become the 1% because their wealth has allowed them to so suborn American democracy, that governments there no longer represent the 99%, and do not work for them. And Canada, like an obedient little dog, appears presently in danger of trotting along behind the US, as so often in the past.

Peter Bloch-Hansen
Toronto, Ontario

So many choices for the biggest story: Arab Spring, European Union debts, the devastating passing of Jack Layton... 
But to me, one of the biggest stories was the terrible earthquakes in the Pacific basin, in New Zealand and Japan. First, because they are a portent of things to come on our West Coast and second, because Canada will be directly affected by the enormous amount of debris coming our way! Who will pay for the clean-up of a an island of debris the size of of California, some of it possibly radioactive? This story will affect us for many years to come, if not decades.

Isabelle Prenat
Victoria, British Columbia

The story that most affected me, and I think it is a story that may have the most effect on Canadians over at least the next few years, is the death of Jack Layton. With his wisdom and humanity, he would have been a perfect foil for the cold and heartless Harper government. We have lost more than we will likely ever know. 
Dave Cunningham
Calgary, Alberta

I would suggest that a huge story this year was the beginning of the end of nuclear power as a source of energy. The tragedy of Fukushima, which continues to poison huge areas of Japan and the seas adjacent to it with radiation, couldn't be suppressed the way that Chernobyl had been in 1986.

Germany's decision to gradually discontinue its nuclear energy program, and the inability of the nuclear industry to cover up the huge dangers potentially involved, is a real turning point in the way we will get our energy.

Charles King
Crescent Beach, British Columbia

I think by far and over any of the other issues your listeners raised, the most important event was the "Arab revolution" which started in Tunisia and spread all over the Middle East! This revolution, as it develops over the year, will change the economic, political and social world of the Middle East, Europe and the Foreign Politics of the U.S. by far - the end result can not even be seen!   

Abe Jacob
Dundas, Ontario

In the story on how Toronto and 50 other local groups are planning for future global warning in 2050, for the first time I have seen predictions of temperatures four decades from now. If true, a 5 degree temperature rise in winter and just under 4 degrees in summer by 2050 in Toronto would leave us with 40 degrees C in winter (104 F) and 60 degrees C in summer (140 F) by 2431, and 80 degrees C (176 F) in 2751 in winter and 100 degrees C or 212 F (the boiling point oif water on earth) by that year. This would be well past the terminal point for life on Earth.

But the fact is more scientists say global warrning is increasing in speed, not declining. And the planet has cleared itself of carbon units such as ourselves twice before. For me this is code Red with nothing to lose but our futures and health. Ending fossil fuel use will only help us. Everyone can take action today to shun vehicles, beef (as cattle are terrible environmental polluters) and use renewable energy wherever possible. 

Em Hawthorne
Toronto, Ontario



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