The winners and losers of 2018

As 2018 draws rapidly to an end, it’s time once again to reflect on the people and events in Canada that made headlines over the past 12 months.

In that tradition, here’s my 11th annual list of winners and losers from across the country.

First, the winners:

1. Doug Ford: It took the sudden resignation of Conservative Leader Patrick Brown and Ford’s curious victory in the Tory leadership contest, despite winning fewer total votes and fewer ridings than Christine Elliott, but Ford is now Ontario’s premier.

2. Pot: The recreational weed made headlines around the world when it became legal to buy cannabis across Canada in what the New York Times called our “national experiment.”

3. Donna Strickland: This University of Waterloo professor was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for groundbreaking work in laser physics that she did while she was a graduate student some 30 years ago.

4. Hockey sticks: By placing hockey sticks outside their front doors, people across Canada came together in a moving display of sympathy and support for the families of Humboldt junior hockey team members who died when their bus collided with a truck in rural Saskatchewan.

5. Lyneth Mann-Lewis: This Brampton mother never gave up hope of seeing her son, Jermaine, again after he was allegedly abducted 31 years ago. But after a decades-long search, she was finally reunited with him. “Believe that all things are possible,” she said as tears streamed down her face.

6. Amanda Simard: The rookie Ontario MPP courageously stood up for her Franco-Ontarian constituents when she quit the Conservative party caucus over cuts by Doug Ford to French-language services, saying she felt as if she had been “spit in my face.” (See Caroline Mulroney under Losers).

And now the losers:

1. Tony Clement: This long-time Conservative, who at times dreamed of being prime minister, saw his political future go up in flames when he was kicked out of the federal Tory caucus after being caught in a sexting/extortion scandal.

2. Drunk curlers: A team of elite Canadian curlers, including an Olympic champion, were kicked out of a world tournament in Red Deer, Alta., for being too disruptive and “too drunk to curl.” Who knew curlers liked to drink?

3. Caroline Mulroney: Despite wishful thinking by some Conservatives that the Ontario attorney general will be a major force in 2019, her performance this past year of bowing to Doug Ford’s actions in slashing francophone services and threatening to use the notwithstanding clause to force through his cuts to Toronto council, as well as her flip-flopping on her views on a carbon tax to match those of Ford, tells a different story.

4. Bombardier: Not only did the maker of the new Toronto streetcars continue to miss delivery deadlines, but 67 of the 89 cars delivered by mid-year had to be taken out of service for repairs.

5. Frank and Belinda Stronach: The Toronto billionaire auto-parts manufacturer is suing his daughter and others, including two grandchildren, for $520 million for alleged mismanagement of assets and trust funds.

6. Bus riders: Greyhound Canada ended its passenger services from northern Ontario and across Western Canada, leaving thousands of intercity bus riders scrambling to find alternative ways to travel.

Bob Hepburn is a columnist with Torstar Syndication Services.

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