Political drama, both local and international, gun violence and storms all held our attention in 2012, a year that had its share of drama, tragedy and triumph.
After months of campaigning by American presidential hopefuls, all eyes were on President Barack Obama’s election to a second term.
Here at home, this was the year of a precedent setting legal ruling against Mayor Rob Ford, involving violation of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. Ford’s public image took a beating for which many felt he was fully responsible. Our hapless mayor’s behaviour made news not just here in Toronto, but across the country and beyond. Nevertheless, Ford’s commitment to controlling the city budget and keeping taxes from increasing means he can still count on significant support in Toronto, his so-called ‘Ford Nation’.
Provincially, Premier Dalton McGuinty not only announced his retirement from politics but leaves under a cloud as he prorogued the Ontario Legislature. The Ontario Liberals are to elect a new leader. Considered a conservative Liberal, McGuinty raised the ire of public employees, especially in health and education, as his government attempted to wrestle with a deficit budget.
Teachers’ unions reacted strongly to Bill 115, which took away teachers’ right to strike and set a freeze on wages. Rotating one-day strikes and work-to-rule strategies by teachers pulled students and parents into the dispute.
Still on education, our Africentric Alternative School bid farewell to its first principal, Thando Hyman-Aman, and welcomed new principal Jacqueline Spence.
Elsewhere in the world, both Jamaica and Trinidad celebrated 50 years of independence, while Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, was selected by Time magazine among the world’s 100 most influential persons.
In 2012, mass killers and shootings held our attention. There was the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in Florida. The shooter, George Zimmerman, claimed he was attacked by Martin and shot him in self-defense. This case in particular showed the power of social media, since it was people angry about the killing of young Martin who brought this tragedy to worldwide attention.
Sadly, mass shootings plagued the United States, the latest being the killing of 20 school children, ages 6 and 7, and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut. After that killing spree, gun purchases increased.
Toronto had its share of shocking gun violence with a shooting incident into crowds at the Eaton Centre and during a summer block party in the Danzig Street neighbourhood where two young people were killed and 23 injured, setting an unwanted local record.
When it wasn’t guns, it was weather, either because of the new normal of a mild winter and dry summer or because of the death toll and damage in the aftermath of powerful storms like Hurricane Sandy. Making U.S. landfall as it did in late October at the height of the U.S. presidential election, Hurricane Sandy had an impact by showing the leadership of the President as opposed to the ‘deer-caught-in-the-headlights’ stance of his challenger.
This was also the year that Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt electrified the world during the London Olympics, taking three gold medals, including that exciting 200-metre win in which Jamaican sprinters – Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir – emerged with gold, silver and bronze, respectively. Trinidadian Keshorn Walcott, 19, took gold with his record setting 84.48-metre javelin throw. And then the Toronto Argonauts won the 100th Grey Cup on home turf, soundly beating the Calgary Stampeders, 35-22.
Finally, in 2012 we bid farewell to Herb Carnegie, Leonard Braithwaite, Lincoln Alexander, Pamela Maynard, Jan Carew, Charles Roach, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, and Rodney King.
May they all rest in peace.