CBC Edmonton's top news stories of 2014

Expense scandals, mass murders, and a controversial switch in political loyalties made Edmonton headlines in 2014. Here are CBC Edmonton's picks for the top stories of the year.
Former premier Alison Redford stepped down in March amid controversy about spending and her leadership style. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Expense scandals, mass murders, and a controversial switch in political loyalties made Edmonton headlines in 2014. Here are CBC Edmonton's picks for the top stories of the year. 

1. Alison Redford’s resignation, Sky Palace and government planes

The $45,000 trip to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral was the beginning of a series of scandals in 2014 that brought down Alberta’s first female premier and threatened to end the Alberta Progressive Conservatives' 43-year grip on power. 

Redford stepped down in March. A week later CBC News broke the story about how a luxury penthouse was being built for her on top of the Federal Building. More revelations followed about Redford’s use of government planes, which culminated in a scathing report from Auditor General Merwan Saher.

Saher famously used the term “aura of power” to describe why people failed to raise questions about expenditures in the premier's office.

2. Mass murder in Edmonton

Police investigate the scene where multiple killings occurred in a north Edmonton home in Edmonton, Alberta on Dec. 30. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)
On Dec. 29, eight people were killed in Edmonton’s worst mass murder in recent history. Phu Lam, a man who co-owned the north Edmonton home where seven bodies were found, was identified as the shooter. He was found dead in a Fort Saskatchewan restaurant, by an apparent suicide.

3. Travis Vader

Travis Vader was released in October after spending four years behind bars. (CBC)
Long a suspect in the 2010 slayings of St. Albert couple Lyle and Marie McCann, Vader was in and out of the news this year. In March, the Crown stayed first-degree charges laid against Vader in 2012. Vader wasn’t freed until October, when he was found not guilty in nine unrelated charges. Then, in a surprise move, the Crown reactivated the charges on Dec. 19. Vader will await trial while under house arrest.

4. Jim Prentice becomes premier

Jim Prentice met with his predecessor Dave Hancock after he won the Progressive Conservative leadership in September. Hancock looks on. (CBC)
The die was cast in May when Prentice, a bank executive and former federal cabinet minister, announced he was entering the race to replace Alison Redford as premier and party leader.  After a tepid four-month leadership race, Prentice won on the first ballot with 77 per cent of the votes, a result that surprised no one.

Since then, Prentice has worked to erase the excesses of the Redford era. He even put the government planes up for sale, a move the PCs have resisted since Ralph Klein was premier.

5. Collapse of the Wildrose Party

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice and former Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith pose for photographers during a joint news conference in Edmonton on Wednesday. (The Canadian Press)
When two Wildrose MLAs crossed to the PCs on Nov. 24, leader Danielle Smith vowed there would be no more defections from her caucus. Three weeks later, Smith and eight Wildrose MLAs made their own walk to the government side. The move left the once formidable opposition party in shambles, with only five MLAs.

6. Changes in foreign worker regulations

It’s no secret to anyone who lives in Alberta. The province is home to thousands of temporary foreign workers. Following a number of stories outlining abuses of the program, federal employment minister Jason Kenney put limits in place. Businesses in Alberta were outraged and said they would have to start limiting hours to deal with the labour shortage. When he became premier, Jim Prentice vowed to raise the issue with the prime minister.

7.  Terrible Oilers

The last time the team was in the playoffs was 2006, when they made it to the Stanley Cup finals. Since then, coaches have been hired and fired, first overall draft picks have been selected and the team still dwells at the bottom of the NHL standings. Last week, veteran hockey writer Jim Matheson tweeted that this is the worst he’s seen in 35 years of covering the team.

Meanwhile, the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings sated the city’s desire for a championship team by winning the Memorial Cup.

8. Pipe bomb airport incident

An event that happened on Sept. 20, 2013, but wasn’t made public until January, became one of the biggest stories of the year. Skylar Vincent Murphy, then 18, was caught with a pipe bomb in his bag at Edmonton International Airport, but was allowed to board his flight. after security confiscated the device. The breach raised questions about security protocols and whether authorities deliberately withheld information from the public.

9. Two killed in mass stabbing at the Loblaw warehouse

Fitzroy Harris, 50, was stabbed several times, while Thierno Bah, 41, died from a single wound to the chest. (Provided)
On Feb. 28, a man killed two people and wounded four others in a stabbing rampage at the Western Grocers warehouse in northwest Edmonton. Fitzroy Harris, 50, and Thierno Bah, 41, were killed. Three hours later, a suspect was located and arrested in southeast Edmonton. Jayme Pasieka, 29, faces two charges of first-degree murder.

10. Ground finally breaks on downtown arena

A city report released in September suggested the project is on schedule and on budget. (Laura Osman/CBC)
After years of debate and public controversy, construction started on the downtown arena in March. Since then, two new towers have been announced for the district: the 26-storey Delta Hotel and the 62-storey Stantec building. So far, the arena is said to be on-time and on-budget for an opening in September 2016.

Other big stories in 2014:

Unforgettable characters