Power & Politics: Top 5 news stories of 2016

What were the biggest news headlines of the year? CBC News Network's Power & Politics counts down the top political stories of 2016.

CBC News Network's Power & Politics counts down the news stories that dominated headlines in 2016

Conversations - and protests - around oil, pipelines and carbon pricing were major stories of 2016. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

A remarkable transition south of the border, a Senate in flux and long-awaited moves on pipelines made some of the biggest headlines in Canada in 2016.

CBC News Network's Power & Politics has combed through this year's archives to bring you some of the political highlights of 2016, from the most cringe-worthy blunders to the biggest players to watch. Today, we turn our attention to the top news stories of 2016.

The Power Panel — political strategist Kathleen Monk, former policy of director to Stephen Harper Rachel Curran, Bloomberg's Josh Wingrove and Susan Smith of Bluesky Strategy Group — helps Rosemary Barton count down the can't-miss moments.

5. New Senate

Top 5 news stories: the Senate 7:46

2016 saw big changes in the Upper Chamber. The year started with the denouement of the Senate scandal, with Mike Duffy's court decision and the subsequent dropping of the RCMP investigations into other senators.

Now, the upper house is trying to turn over a new leaf, with a fresh batch of senators and a new appointment process.

But it's not all coming up rosy for the Red Chamber. Independent senators are growing restless with the pace of change, and Conservative senator Denise Batters recently accused Justin Trudeau of trying to "destroy" opposition in the Senate.

4. Carbon tax

Top 5 news stories: carbon pricing 6:55

The federal government delivered a climate change ultimatum to the provinces this year. The message? Like it or not, a carbon price is coming to Canada. 

A tough-talking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the provinces by surprise when he announced they have until 2018 to adopt a carbon pricing scheme, or the federal government will step in and impose a price for them. 

Trudeau said the price on carbon dioxide pollution should start at a minimum of $10 a tonne in 2018, rising by $10 each year to $50 a tonne by 2022.

The unexpected announcement helped set a testy new tone between the provinces and feds, one that's been mirrored in ongoing health care talks.

But will the carbon pricing plan help Canada meet its climate change commitments as outlined in the Paris agreement? That remains to be seen.

3. Oil

Top 5 news stories: oil 9:06

A devastating fire in Fort McMurray, a slow climb in oil prices and some big decisions on key pipelines all made oil a dominant political focus in 2016.

But the federal government's approach to oil in 2016 highlighted a growing divide between Alberta and the rest of Canada, with federal politicians like interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose going toe-to-toe with Trudeau over Alberta job cuts, and an oil rig worker making an impassioned plea in the House of Commons for more support for the energy sector.

2. Assisted dying

Top 5 news stories: assisted dying 7:58

The government introduced legislation to regulate physician-assisted dying this year. The federal law governing medical assistance in dying came into effect June 17, after weeks of passionate, and sometimes very personal, political debate.

But the issue opened up a wider political, legal and societal debate over end-of-life care, personal autonomy, the age of consent and mental illness

1. U.S. election

Top 5 news stories: the U.S. election 10:01

2016 was an election year like no other, and the result of the U.S. election — to be made official at Donald Trump's inauguration Jan. 20 — was felt around the world. 

Wild turns, unpredictable moments and history-making firsts will ensure the 2016 presidential election will be studied by political scientists for decades to come.

Be sure to check in all week as Power & Politics counts down the Top 5 newsmakers, political blunders, issues to watch, and players to watch of 2016 and the year ahead.


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