Top Five Stories of 2017

Upon reflecting on the year past, I can’t help but feel 2017 was a boring year to be Canada. And yes, I am saying that of the year where our country celebrated its 150th birthday celebrations.

Though there were all sorts of ‘usual suspects’ dominating headlines throughout the year, it feels like the trends driving discussions in Canada over the past twelve months were mainly international stories with some local impact.

Of course, something could break in the next week and a half which completely overwrites this list…

Having said all of that, let’s get to the list!


Honourable mention: the weather

A perennial favourite topic for Canadians and one which generated a lot of bad news in 2017. From the deadly hurricane season and resulting political crises, to the worst forest fire season on record in British Columbia and a major fire event in California, to the earthquake near the Iran-Iraq border which killed 500, the weather was a significant newsmaker in 2017.

USA Today rounds up some other (American-centric) weather facts from the year here.


5. International trade and diplomacy: 

From North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) disputes, to softwood lumber talks (again), to the Brexit talks, and Canada’s stalling of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, 2017 was an interesting year for trade. Most recently, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left China empty-handed after what was billed as a promising trade mission.

Factor in US President Donald Trump’s recent announcement that the American embassy in Israel will be relocated to Jerusalem, and the repeated standoffs between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and 2017 was also an interesting year for international relations. With none of these situations resolved, 2018 is shaping up to be a year of chaos on the international relations front.


4. Spreading partisanship: 

The deepening political divide in the US spread to professional sports, products such as the Keurig Coffee Maker, and beyond in 2017. The news media was further vilified by President Trump (excluding such ‘reliable’ sources as Fox and Breitbart), driving up support for such ‘failing’ publications as the New York Times.

This is why I didn’t include Trump as one of my top news stories. His administration has achieved little, other than some ham-handed efforts to undo the legacy of his predecessor. The ongoing investigations into his administration’s ties to Russia will undoubtedly have a large impact on the news cycle next year but have yet to produce tangible results other than the charges against Michael Flynn. And even if Robert Mueller successfully finds dirt on senior (current) members of Trump’s administration, you have to wonder if the Republican-controlled House and Senate will block most attempts at sanctioning anyone.

The bigger impact resulting from this whole situation, in my mind, is how President Trump’s rhetoric and behaviour has turned nearly every topic into a partisan issue. He has galvanized his base into thinking they are ‘victims’, and given them a reason to shut out all critical voices for fear of admitting they have made a mistake. The results speak for themselves.


3. Refugee crises: 

With the crisis in the Middle East not yet fully resolved, a new refugee (and political) crisis has been unfolding in Myanmar. This comes as the fallout from the Syrian Civil War and its refugee crisis remain unresolved. Expect to see more outrage, hopefully coupled with action, in 2018.


2. The internet:

After months of hints, the American Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently rolled back Obama-era regulations governing net neutrality. The regulations were popular with consumers and workable for the large and highly profitable telecommunications companies in the States. With the rollback of the regulations, the American telcos may start throttling or restricting users’ access to certain websites in order to extract more money from consumers. It remains to be seen how this could impact Canadians.

Meantime, internet giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google were in the hot seat all year over the ways the three giants (and their advertising clients) influenced and impacted the 2016 American federal election (see our previous blog post on this). All three have pledged to crack down on fake news, bot accounts, and inappropriate advertising. Expect to hear more on both of these stories in the coming years.


1. Sexual assault survivors speak out:

Rose McGowan, or the New York Times, or Harvey Weinstein, or Taylor Swift, or any of a dozen other people depending on your perspective on these things was the first domino which has set off a chain across Hollywood, throughout the business community, and around the world.

It seems like every day since the bombshell allegations came to light in October, someone has been losing their job, or worse, every day.  Here’s a partial list that will be out of date by the time this is published.

Sexual assault survivors have banded together under the hashtag #MeToo. The campaign was recognized by TIME Magazine with its “Person of the Year” award, and “feminism” was named the word of 2017. This certainly feels like a trend which will continue into 2018.


Other top stories to consider: The Muller investigation, Trump’s enrichment of wealthy Americans at the expense of the poor, rise of Amazon and the fall of retail, Canada 150, Vegas shooting


What do you think of this list? What would you add or take away? Leave a comment!

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