01.01.2015 01:44 PM

In Friday’s Sun: 2014 in one word

If you were asked to assign a word to 2014, what would it be?

Cold? It was indisputably that. Uncertain? With oil costing far less‎ and housing costing ever more, unquestionably. Frightening? ISIS and Ebola ensured that it was.

Politically, there really is no single word that can be easily applied to the year that just went by. So let us look, instead, at ten people who – intentionally or not – shaped our politics and our perspective on 2014.

1. Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent: The murders of these two Canadian Forces men ‎- at the hands of extremists who wanted to make a political statement, and did – still reverberates through our politics. Their deaths provided evidence that seemingly far-flung conflicts, in places like Afghanistan and Syria, aren’t so far away at all.

2.‎ Dave Ross, Douglas Larche, Fabrice Gevaudan: Three RCMP officers were gunned down by Justin Bourque in Moncton in June – and their tragic deaths would not have happened if Bourque, whose own lawyer called a “gun nut,” had been denied access‎ to a powerful semi-automatic M305. 308 sniper rifle. The deaths of Ross, Larche and Gevaudan could have been prevented with better government regulation of the acquisition of firearms.

‎3. Robin Williams: The comic was American, but his August suicide deeply ‎affected many Canadians. Williams’ passing provided us with another reminder that depression – while much-discussed – is still an enormous public health crisis that remains mostly unaddressed.

4. Jian Ghomeshi: Ghomeshi was one of the brightest stars in the Canadian media firmament – but he came crashing to Earth, in October, amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault. His case, while rife with allegations that were disturbing, was also helpful in one way: it shone a light on the scourge of sexual harassment, and forced a debate that was long overdue.

5. Ahmad Jauhari Yahya: The former CEO of Malaysia Airlines – his tenure ended on New Year’s Day – will be remembered‎ as the world’s unluckiest man. In the space of four months, two of his company’s planes went down – one shot out of the sky by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the other lost over the South China Sea – claiming nearly 600 lives, among them Canadians. The stories of those two flights provided shocking reminders that life is terribly fleeting, and can be taken away in an instant.

6. Michael Brown: The August death of the unarmed Missouri teenager – shot twelve times by police officer Darren Wilson after Brown had obeyed commands to put his hands up – set off riots and confrontations across the US, and even ‎protests in Canada. Brown’s death, and the deaths of other black men at the hands of white police officers, stirred up racial tensions in a way that few expected during the tenure of a black U.S. President.

7. Vladimir Putin: Russia’s arrogant despot invaded the Crimea in February, and set off a conflict that has claimed the lives of thousands. Canada, home to the third-largest Ukrainian population in the world – after Ukriane and Russia – was rightly outraged by Putin’s flagrant disregard for international law and human rights. ‎ Putin, meanwhile, is still in power – and one of the world’s most reviled leaders.

Out of all that, a picture emerges. One word threads its way through the year gone by, and it is not happy one.

2014 was a year of triumphs, and breakthroughs, and some genuinely positive news, of course. But, mostly, the world in 2014 was still simply this:



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    VanIslGuy says:

    Cold? Sorry, chum, but 2014 is already in the books as the hottest year on record. ISIS? As Gwynne Dyer so well points out, ISIS is frightening mainly to those who wish to be frightened. Ditto for Ebola. I know malaria and dysentery aren’t as sexy as ISIS and Ebola but, as killers go, they utterly eclipse everything else.

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      Peter says:

      but 2014 is already in the books as the hottest year on record

      Of course it is. Indeed, if you Google “Hottest Year 20__” for every year since 2009, it amazing we aren’t all fried by now. Then Google “Global Cooling” for each of the same years and you will get an idea of why so many have come to suspect climate science is full of it.

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        Kaspar Juul says:

        Oh 1970s pseudoscience. Thanks Peter, do you have tenure yet at Cranbrook U?

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          Peter says:

          Pseudoscientist? Thanks for the compliment, Kaspar, but surely I’ve reveled myself to be a full blown science-denier who probably gets his climate predictions out of the Book of Deuteronomy. It really must be extremely scary and frustrating to be part of the scientific consensus and watch the little people ignore all those many brilliant predictions.

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            Kaspar Juul says:

            Interesting, somehow, in your bafflegab you became a scientist and thought a faux news link was convincing

            Definitely Cranbrook U alumni

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          Jim Keegan says:

          Predictably, and right on time, we have Kaspar Juul popping up from under his rock to take a two sentence potshot at a poster before scurrying back. Hey Kaspar, have you ever made a meaningful post in this forum? Even once?

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            Kaspar Juul says:

            About the same number as you Jim.

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        Kevin T. says:

        Yes, blinders are required to agree with Peter’s comment

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          Peter says:

          This, of course, is the perfect strategy for People Who Absolutely Love Science to persuade a public that has become much more sceptical and uninterested in the subject than it was even ten years ago–call them stupid and blinkered. It’s tough being one of the righteous on the side of Truth, isn’t it?

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    smelter rat says:


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    Ridiculosity says:

    Dangerous? Seriously?

    Getting out of bed is dangerous. And courageous.

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    James Smith says:

    Not the real place for this however; though you might want to remember former MPP, a Great Ontario Liberal & my pal Eric Cunningham just passed away at the far too young age of 65:

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:



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    Quincy says:

    I nominate “mean-spirited” for our federal government in Canada, with “greedy” a very close second.

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    davie says:


    Oceans are being changed, most heat increase is going there, sea creatures are either migrating or disappearing, could affect the air temps and movement much more this year, or in the near future.

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    patrick says:

    Yes, everyday I spent so much of my day frightened of Isis and Ebola, sure they occurred on completely different continents than the one I spend most of my time on and sure, yes, I’m more likely to be hit by a car, lightening or a kamikaze chicken with a death wish than suffer from either Isis or Ebola, I didn’t not fail to be fearful of both daily as the media demanded of me.
    Lunatics with guns can target and kill people and I always worry that someone will decide to target my demographic – fat, ugly, bald leaf fan.
    Life is fleeting – duh. Shit happens.
    Celebrities are people. Surprise.
    Racism is a social blight and destroys both side and leaders after oil (or some other current means of wealth) is old news.
    Words of the year –
    It’s the media’s fault or same old same old.

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    Wolfer says:

    Unbelievable! You’re calling Putin a despot and Ghomeshi a bright star? When I get elected dictator of Canada under my Do As I Say Plan as I’m usually 95% right, I’ll be making some changes. It’s granted I use to watch the CBC so I may be willing to let Ghomeshi become Cuban dictator as he’s harassed far fewer women than Castro so he may be a bit of an improvement.

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      Kaspar Juul says:

      Either you’re a Putin supporter or you need to breathe and read the article before you fly completely off that handle

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    jen says:

    I think there was an autopsy report re: Williams suggesting the role of early stage dementia in his suicide, so while it there is a lot of truth in /good coming from the attention to depression, dementia was a significant part of the story and has not had much of the same attention. Still so sad to have lost him either way. He was a wonderful, complicated and complex human being and a brilliant performer who contributed much in the way of expressing the full range of our shared, frail, sad and often hilarious human condition.

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