A combative minority Parliament, a historic federal election that saw opposition parties' fortunes drastically change and an emotional outpouring at the death of NDP leader Jack Layton made for a dramatic year in Canadian politics.

Those events dominated the headlines consumed by politics readers on CBCnews.ca, along with stories about a curious appearance of the word "not," an unexpected moment of rebellion by a Senate page, a controversial pitch to ban masks at protests and political battles over back-to-work legislation.

Hackers, rookie MPs and watchdogs shared media attention with flirtatious emails, leaked memos, helicopters and fighter jets.

Here are the best-read politics stories by users of CBCnews.ca in 2011 — for the year overall and then for each month. Click the headlines to read the full stories.

2011 overall

1. Jack Layton's last letter to Canadians 

2. Harper: Majority win turns page on uncertainties

3. Jack Layton dead of cancer at 61 

4. Ignatieff quits as Liberal leader 

5. CBC election night coverage 

6. Jack Layton to take leave after new cancer found 

7. Polling stations open across Canada 

8. Olivia Chow, NDP MPs greet Layton mourners

9. Bill would make wearing masks during riots a crime

10. Harper 'tossed me under a bus': Guergis

January

1. Kent, Fantino take cabinet posts 

2. Corporate tax cut battle heats up 

3. Budget watchdog slams federal cuts plan 

4. Ignatieff: 'Clear choice' for Canadians this year 

5. Canadians in Egypt could begin leaving Monday 

6. Senator charged with fraud still spending 

7. Put death penalty to vote: Liberals 

8. Attack ads will be PM's 'legacy': Ignatieff 

9. PM targets party subsidies 

10. Liberals 'attack problems' in new ads 

February

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International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda was nearly found in contempt of Parliament over the apparent alteration of a funding document. (Canadian Press)

1. Foreign hackers attack Canadian government 

2. Oda made right Kairos move: Harper 

3. $42M glass dome approved for Parliament 

4. Senior Mountie tells MPs of boss's 'abuse' 

5. Calls for Oda's dismissal grow in House 

6. CIDA document 'doctored,' Speaker rules 

7. Tory lead over Liberals grows: poll 

8. Immigrant visas to drop 5%: records 

9. DND halts millions in benefits 

10. Commons debate urges clear stance on Egypt 

March

1. Government's defeat sets up election call 

2. Vote Compass uncovers your political stripe 

3. Opposition leaders reject federal budget 

4. Opposition lines up against government

5. May not welcome in leaders' debates: networks  

6. Harper bats back at coalition questions 

7. MPs' report finds government in contempt 

8. Tories slapped by 2 rulings 

9. 'Coalition' battle kicks off campaign 

10. Budget renews eco retrofits, but no HST deal

April

1. Harper 'tossed me under a bus': Guergis 

2. Ignatieff slams Harper over Facebook screening 

3. Tories under fire over leaked G8 report 

4. Leaders make debate pitches, trade barbs 

5. 'Serious allegations' against Guergis revealed 

6. Tories used praise for Liberals to defend summit costs: Fraser 

7. Liberals could still govern if Harper wins minority: Ignatieff 

8. As parties spin debate, leaders mull performances 

9. French debate stirs up Que. constitution issue 

10. Layton slams massage parlour report as 'smears' 

May

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Stephen Harper celebrates his 'strong, stable, majority' Conservative victory May 2 in Calagary. (Canadian Press)

1. Harper: Majority win turns page on uncertainties 

2. Ignatieff quits as Liberal leader 

3. CBC election night coverage 

4. Polling stations open across Canada 

5. PM returns to Ottawa after majority win 

6. Leaders sharpen messages on final day 

7. How the Liberal meltdown gave Stephen Harper his majority 

8. New faces, but stability key in Harper cabinet shuffle 

9. WESTON: Majority rules - just about everything 

10. Questions raised about rookie NDP MP's papers 

June

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Senate page Brigette DePape is escorted from the Senate floor after holding up a 'Stop Harper' sign during the throne speech in June. (Reuters)

1. Senate page fired for anti-Harper protest 

2. Canada Post back-to-work bill clears House 

3. Canada Post promises mail delivery Tuesday 

4. LIVE: Canada Post debate shows no sign of ending 

5. Raitt open to Canada Post bill changes 

6. Hackers stole secret Canadian government data 

7. MPs elect youngest Speaker 

8. Hackers pull off Harper choking hoax 

9. Ministers didn't follow own policies for G8 spending 

10. Throne speech vows accountability, focus on economy 

July

1. Jack Layton to take leave after new cancer found 

2. Canada boycotts UN body over North Korea 

3. Ottawa targets 1,800 in citizenship crackdown 

4. NDP caucus picks Turmel as Layton's fill-in 

5. Ottawa names war crimes suspects in Canada 

6. Top court rules feds not liable in smoking lawsuits 

7. Helena Guergis broke ethics rules, watchdog says  

8. NDP rattled by Layton's cancer diagnosis 

9. NDP rallies behind Layton after cancer shock 

10. Google got 38 user data requests from Canada in 6 months 

August

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A portrait of the late NDP Leader Jack Layton sits in flowers at a makeshift memorial outside Toronto City Hall on Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. Layton died Aug. 22 after a second cancer diagnosis. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

1. Jack Layton's last letter to Canadians 

2. Jack Layton dead of cancer at 61 

3. Olivia Chow, NDP MPs greet Layton mourners 

4. OBITUARY: Jack Layton's legacy as a fighter 

5. Layton to be honoured with rare state funeral 

6. Jack Layton and Olivia Chow, a political love story 

7. Navy and air force to be royally renamed 

8. Layton's final Ottawa farewell 

9. LIVE: Hundreds of Toronto mourners honour Layton 

10. SPECIAL REPORT: The death and legacy of Jack Layton 

September

1. U.S. mulls Canadian border fence 

2. Tory crime bill cracks down on drug, sex offences 

3. Harper says 'Islamicism' biggest threat to Canada 

4. Olivia Chow rules out NDP leadership bid 

5. MacKay spent hundreds of hours on Challenger 

6. ANALYSIS | Memo to Mr. Harper: Expect the unexpected 

7. Tory MP apologizes for flirty emails to Chinese journalist 

8. Marijuana grow-op sites listed by RCMP 

9. Ex-PM Jean Chr‚tien predicts NDP-Liberal merger 

10. Harper says world economic outlook 'not so positive' 

October

1. Milewski: Texas conservatives reject Harper's crime plan 

2. Halifax, B.C. yards win shipbuilding work 

3. Canada may buy nuclear submarines

4. New long-gun registry bill would destroy records  

5. Shipbuilding contracts decision coming 

6. Canada will have to live with 'Buy American,' envoy says 

7. Energy drink labels to contain warnings 

8. Quebec to get 3 more MPs in new distribution 

9. U.S. reviving $5.50 tariff on Canadian travellers 

10. Amnesty calls on Canada to arrest George W. Bush 

November

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Masks were in the news in 2011, both because of protests such as the Occupy movement and for a Conservative MPs' bill to ban their use in a riot. (Canadian Press)

1. Bill would make wearing masks during riots a crime 

2. CRTC offers compromise on usage-based billing 

3. Postal workers win 28-year pay equity fight 

4. Flaherty to cut EI hike as deficit targets slip 

5. Auditor general finds 'disturbing' flaws in visa system 

6. Quebec will refuse to pay for omnibus crime bill 

7. Iran cut off from Canada, U.S., U.K. banking systems

8. Conservative Party fined for breaking election laws  

9. Peter C. Newman on the death of the Liberal party 

10. Why do Canadians pay more? It's complicated 

December (partial)

1. 6 things to expect in new Canada-U.S. border deal 

2. Canada-U.S. border deal will track departing travellers 

3. Canada, U.S. take 'most significant' step since NAFTA 

4. MacKay's helicopter story doesn't fly, MPs say 

5. MacKay helicopter airlift 'under guise' of training 

6. China's climate concession won't move Canada on Kyoto 

7. Feds aware of Attawapiskat crisis for years 

8. MacKay may sue over helicopter ride criticism 

9. NDP leadership rivals keep debate low key 

10. Memos anticipate religious freedom office sensitivities