HUB Mall robbery, Highway 63 among 2012's top stories

CBC Edmonton looks back at the stories that had the biggest impact - within Edmonton and beyond it - over the past year.

AHS expense scandal, provincial election and other stories had lasting impact on Edmonton and Alberta

Edmontonians witnessed tragedy in 2012 when three young G4S guards were shot dead in a armoured car heist on the University of Alberta campus on June 15th.

CBC News takes a look back at the Hub Mall shootings, as well as other news events that shaped Edmonton and northern Alberta in 2012.

Feb. 7: Two RCMP officers shot in a stand-off in Killam

A young man described as a "quiet photographer" was the focus of a manhunt in the days after an armed standoff that wounded two RCMP officers.

Sawyer Robison, 27, was arrested three days later, just as he was ready to turn himself into police.

Robison was initially charged with two counts of attempted murder.

Eight months later, he was charged with second-degree murder in the death of his uncle, Bradford Clark, whose body was found inside the house after the standoff.

April 23: Tories hold off the Wildrose to win Alberta election

When Premier Alison Redford called the April 23rd election, her government was facing a number of controversies including revelations that MLAs — many of them Tories — earned $1,000 a month for sitting on a legislature committee that hadn’t met in nearly four years.

The so-called "no-meet" committee resonated enough with voters that Redford announced during the first week of the campaign that her MLAs would pay back every cent.

Polls suggested that the Tories were in trouble as the Wildrose Party appeared to be gaining support.

However, racist and anti-gay statements from two Wildrose candidates hurt the party. Leader Danielle Smith also got herself into trouble for stating that the scientific debate over climate change hadn't yet been settled.

The Tories ended up winning their 12th successive majority government by taking 61 of 87 seats. The Wildrose sent 17 MLAs to the legislature, making them Alberta's official Opposition.

April 27:  7 killed in Highway 63 crash

In 2006, the province promised to twin 240 kilometres of what is the only road to Fort McMurray and the northern Alberta oilsands. But progress was slow. Only 33 kilometres were completed by 2012.

Then seven people died in a fiery head-on collision between two vehicles on the stretch of Highway 63 near Wandering River. The victims included two children and a woman who was six-months' pregnant. There were two survivors.

To a community that seen too many fatal crashes, this was a tipping point. One week later, residents held a protest in Fort McMurray.

In October, Transportation Minister Ric McIver promised that the province would borrow money in order to twin Highway 63 between Grassland and Fort McMurray by the fall of 2016.

May 31: Teacher defies no-zero edict

Lynden Dorval, a physics teacher at Edmonton's Ross Sheppard High School became a folk hero to some for defying his principal's "no-zero" policy.

The stories about Dorval’s public battle against his suspension and subsequent firing made headlines across Canada and generated thousands of comments on the cbc.ca website.

Dorval was fired in September. Shortly afterwards, he accepted a part-time teaching position at Tempo, a private school in Edmonton.

While Dorval lost his job, he may have left a lasting impact. In December, Edmonton Public Schools released a new draft policy, that if passed, will end no-zero grading.

June 13: Parents charged with starving twin girls

On June 13th, police announced that a man and a woman were facing charges after their severely malnourished two-year-old twin daughters were discovered by paramedics in a south Edmonton home.

One of the girls suffered severe brain damage and had to be placed on life-support. Doctors believed she would never regain consciousness.

After her parents lost a legal battle to keep her alive, the little girl — known publicly as "M" due to a publication ban — died in hospital on Sept. 20th after doctors removed her from life support.

June 15: Hub Mall shootings

The shootings, which killed Brian Ilesic, 35, Michelle Shegelski, 26, and Eddie Rejano, 39, and critically wounded Matthew Schuman, shocked Edmontonians and deeply frightened students at the normally-quiet University of Alberta campus, particularly as police sought for their suspect, Travis Baumgartner.

Baumgartner, a G4S guard who police say was working that night, was arrested the next day in British Columbia while he was trying to cross the border into the United States.

U.S. border officials said he was carrying more than $300,000 in cash in his truck.

Baumgartner is scheduled to go on trial in September 2013 for three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Aug. 1: AHS executive loses job hours before CBC airs story about lavish expense claims

Allaudin Merali was the chief financial officer for Alberta Health Services until documents released to CBC revealed how he spent tens of thousands of dollars on high-end restaurants and bottles of wine while he was with the former Capital Health region.

Merali was fired from his position at AHS hours before CBC was set to air the story. The person who signed off on his expenses, former Capital Health CEO Sheila Weatherill, resigned from the AHS board the next day.

The controversy  prompted AHS to review its expense claim policies. Premier Alison Redford also promised to have the expense claims of cabinet ministers, caucus members, deputy ministers and other senior public servants posted online.

Sept 13: Former premier Peter Lougheed dies at 84

Peter Lougheed, the premier whose victory in the 1971 provincial election launched  the 41-year Progressive Conservative dynasty, died in Calgary on Sept. 13th.

Lougheed was the first premier to lie in state at the Alberta legislature and people lined up to pay their respects.

The state funeral in Calgary was attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former prime minister Joe Clark and current and former Canadian premiers.

Oct. 17: City council ends arena talks with Oilers' owner Daryl Katz

The Oilers owner had a rocky 2012 which included allegations he broke Alberta election laws by making a single $430,000 donation to the Alberta PC party.

Katz also angered local hockey fans by making overtures to officials in Seattle when negotiations didn't go his way in Edmonton.

Katz apologized but then refused to show up to the Oct. 17th council meeting to explain why he needed an additional $6 million annual subsidy for the downtown arena. That prompted council to unanimously pass a motion ceasing all talks with the Katz Group, a move officials later admitted "stunned" them.

Two months later, representatives from the Katz Group were back before council. Their attitude and willingness to drop the subsidy convinced council to start negotiations again.

Oct 25: Student killed in St. Paul school crash

One student died and two others were critically injured when a minivan crashed into Racette Junior High School during a Grade 6 French class on Oct. 25th.

Meagan Wolitski, 11, died in hospital one day after the crash. The other two girls are still recovering from their injuries.

Richard Benson, 46, faces one count of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.



The top ten most-viewed stories on cbc.ca/edmonton in 2012


1. Mother pleads for U of A shooting suspect to turn himself in http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/06/15/edmonton-university-school-shooting.html

2. RCMP shooting suspect a 'quiet' photographer http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/02/08/edmonton-killam-rcmp-manhunt.html

3. Edmonton teacher suspended for giving zeros http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/05/31/edmonton-teacher-zeros-sheppard.html

4. RCMP surround house after two Alberta Mounties shot http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/02/07/edmonton-rcmp-officers-shot-killam.html

5. Edmonton triple-homicide suspect arrested at U.S. border http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/06/16/edmonton-baumgartner-arrested.html

6. Alberta students hurt as minivan crashes into classroom http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/10/25/edmonton-st-paul-school-crash.html

7. RCMP shooting suspect hoped to surrender before arrest http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/02/10/edmonton-robison-apprehended.html

8. Survivor of deadly armoured car heist squeezes wife's hand http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/06/18/edmonton-baumgartner-interview.html

9. Northern Alberta head-on crash claims 7 lives http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/04/27/edmonton-highway-closure.html

10.Classroom crash victim was 'energetic and passionate' http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/10/26/edmonton-st-paul-racette-minivan-charges.html