From Rob Ford to Alice Munro: Canadian newsmakers of 2013

Embattled politicians, a misbehaving pop star and a Nobel Prize-winning author — the top Canadian newsmakers of the year span young and old, esteemed and controversial.

From Rob Ford to Justin Bieber to Alice Munro, the most notable Canucks of 2013

Embattled politicians, a misbehaving pop star and a Nobel Prize-winning author — the top Canadian newsmakers of the year span young and old, esteemed and controversial.

Rob Ford

Toronto's beleaguered mayor has endured a wave of scandals this year since news reports surfaced in May about a video that allegedly shows him smoking from a crack pipe. His troubles have garnered international media attention, and have prompted city council to restrain his powers as chief magistrate of North America's fourth-largest metropolis.

Ford has withstood the pressure to step aside, vowing to remain in office and seek "professional help" after he admitted to having smoked crack cocaine and drinking to excess. He has also refused to speak with police, who have interviewed a number of former staff in his office as part of an investigation dubbed Project Brazen 2.

In recent months, Ford's troubles have become fodder for a growing list of comedians in Canada and abroad, including U.S. late night talk show hosts like Jon Stewart and Conan O'Brien.


The Red Chamber has made headlines for the wrong reasons throughout 2013. Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau face allegations of misspending and are under investigation by the RCMP. Brazeau has also been charged with assault and sexual assault, while Senator Colin Kenny has been accused of sexual harassment.

The RCMP probe into Duffy's spending has reached the highest echelons of power with Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, under investigation.

An 80-page court filing by the Mounties sheds light on a trail of emails that suggests Harper's staff and his top senators helped to manipulate a Senate committee and its report into Duffy's contested living expenses. The group also allegedly tried to quash an independent audit commissioned by the Senate.

Naheed Nenshi

Calgary's popular mayor achieved something akin to rock-star status this summer in the days after the city suffered extensive flooding, which caused more than $1.7 billion in damage.

In 2013, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi become the sympathetic public face of the Alberta floods. ((CBC))

Nenshi became the most visible public figure in the wake of the disaster, holding a flurry of press briefings and interviews, attending private events with emergency personnel and visiting flood-struck areas of the city.

After being elected as a relative unknown in 2010, Nenshi won a second term in October by taking three-quarters of the vote.

Rehtaeh Parsons

Parsons was 17 years old when she was taken off of life support in April, days after a suicide attempt.

According to her parents, four boys sexually assaulted their daughter at a house party when she was 15. They said the Cole Harbour, N.S., teen then endured relentless harassment and humiliation after a digital photo of the alleged attack was circulated at school and on social media.

Parsons' suicide garnered national headlines. It happened months after B.C. teen Amanda Todd took her own life after posting a video on YouTube describing how she was tormented by bullies, including one person who captured a freeze frame of the teen topless and used that photo to try to blackmail her.

In an attempt to combat such tragedies, the federal government tabled legislation in November that would make it illegal to distribute intimate images without the consent of the person in the photo. (The legislation would also give police new powers to track terrorism suspects and individuals who use computers to gain unpaid access to WiFi or cable TV service – measures that have drawn criticism.)

Chris Hadfield

Hadfield spent five months on the International Space Station earlier this year and was the first Canadian to command it.

During his stay, he attracted more than one million Twitter followers and captured the imagination of people around the globe with his often-poetic online updates, breathtaking photography, educational question-and-answer sessions and fun musical performances.

As part of his personal farewell to the space station, Hadfield released a video of his version of David Bowie's Space Oddity, which NASA said is the first music video made in space.

Thorsten Heins

Last month, BlackBerry's largest stakeholder announced it would lead a group that will lend the troubled smartphone maker $1 billion US as the company seeks to revamp its operations.

As part of the deal, both BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins and the chair of its board of directors, Barbara Stymiest, left the company.

Heins took over as CEO in 2012, faced with the daunting task of turning around a struggling Waterloo, Ont.,-based firm in an increasingly competitive global smartphone market. Instead, BlackBerry continued to run into trouble, including repeated delays in releasing a new operating system and new generations of handsets, less than stellar sales, staff layoffs, and a stock price that stubbornly continued to decline.

As part of the terms of his severance agreement, Heins may be awarded up to $55 million.


Millard is one of two men charged with first-degree murder in the death of 32-year-old Tim Bosma, who lived in Ancaster, Ont., with his wife and small child. Bosma was last seen leaving his home on May 6 with two men who wanted to take a test drive in a truck he had advertised for sale online.

On May 14, police announced they had found Bosma's body, which had been burned beyond recognition, at a Waterloo area farm.

Ontario Provincial Police are probing two other deaths they say are linked to Millard. In early October, investigators said the disappearance of Millard’s ex-girlfriend Laura Babcock and the death of his father, Wayne, are connected to the Bosma slaying.

Alice Munro

On Oct. 10, Munro became the first Canadian woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature since the award was launched in 1901.

In 2013, Alice Munro became the first Canadian woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

The 82-year-old was lauded by the Swedish Academy during the Nobel announcement in Stockholm as the "master of the contemporary short story."

"It just seems impossible – a splendid thing to happen," Munro told CBC News the day the award was announced. "I would really hope that this would make people see the short story as an important art, not something you play around with until you've got a novel written."

Two of Munro's titles – her latest collection, entitled Dear Life, and a compilation called My Best Stories — vaulted into Amazon’s top 20 sales list just hours after news of the Nobel award was announced. Neither title had ever appeared among the retailer’s top-selling titles in the past.

Cory Monteith

Monteith, a Canadian actor who played the quarterback Finn Hudson on the Fox TV series Glee, was found dead in his hotel room in July at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in downtown Vancouver.

Monteith, who had struggled with addiction problems, died from mixed drug toxicity involving heroin and alcohol, according to a report from the Coroners Service of British Columbia. He was 31.

His death sparked tributes from celebrities and fans of the high school musical drama in which he starred.

Glee said goodbye to Monteith's character and paid tribute to the Calgary native in a much-anticipated episode that aired in early October.

Justin Bieber

It has been a tough year for the golden boy of Stratford, Ont.

Among his trials and tribulations, the teen pop singer had his pet monkey confiscated by German authorities. More recently, Bieber made headlines when local media in Rio de Janeiro were tipped off to his purported visit to the Centauros private members club, widely considered a brothel. Meanwhile Brazilian police were investigating whether the 19-year-old had illegally spray painted graffiti on a local hotel.

To make matters worse, Bieber was unseated as the unofficial king of Twitter when pop singer Katy Perry surpassed Bieber's total of 46 million followers in November.

With filed from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press


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