Syrian refugee crisis tops editors' choice for News Story of the Year

OTTAWA -- For years, the millions displaced by the ongoing civil war in Syria hardly registered on Canada's radar, but a single death this fall suddenly brought the conflict home.

See Full Article

And the way the Syrian refugee crisis then galvanized Canadians has prompted news editors across the country to select it as Canada's News Story of the Year for 2015.

The annual survey by The Canadian Press saw 26 votes cast for the crisis and the ensuing Liberal government response as the most compelling story of the year, with the Liberal election victory in second place with 24 votes.

"The combination of Justin's Trudeau's dramatic election victory and how the Syrian refugee crisis played a key role in the midst of that campaign makes these two stories among the most significant of 2015," said Rick Bogacz, executive producer of MSN.ca.

"We'll be feeling their impact for years to come."

While the civil war has raged since 2011, 2015 saw an unprecedented exodus of Syrians, not just out of their home country, but out of the countries nearby where an estimated four million Syrians have sought refuge in the last four years.

In early September, the Kurdi family was among them, seeking to get out of Turkey and to Greece via boat. But the vessel capsized and three-year-old Alan Kurdi died, a photograph of his lifeless body on a Turkish beach ricocheting around the world.

It landed on front pages in the midst of the federal election, and when it became known the Kurdis had family in British Columbia who were trying to bring some of them to Canada, Alan's death became unexpected campaign issue, spurring debate on whether the country was doing enough to help address the major humanitarian crisis.

"The fragile image of Alan Kurdi not only put the four-year-old Syrian war on front pages in newspapers around the world, it forced action," said David Trifunov, managing editor of the Daily Courier in Kelowna, B.C."

"The war had been dragging on and Kurdi's short life made Canadians aware of the carnage that was unfolding half a world away."

Accusations that members of the Kurdi family were rejected by Canada -- although the government later said the proper paperwork had not been filed -- prompted an outcry. That, coupled with statistics showing that current resettlement of Syrian refugees was happening at a glacial pace, forced the then-Conservative government to overhaul their existing program in the midst of the election.

It also saw the Liberals reiterate a pledge they'd made back in March -- under a Liberal government, 25,000 Syrians refugees would be brought to Canada. During the campaign they stuck a deadline on the promise too -- they would do it by year's end.

The program is currently underway, albeit revised -- the Liberals are aiming to resettle 10,000 people by the end of this month and a further 15,000 by end of February.

"The effects (of the refugee crisis) will continue in 2016 to have a major impact on the political agenda in Europe and the world," said Gilles Carignan, vice-president of information and assistant editor of Le Soleil.

That the Liberals found themselves in a position to make good on that promise was thanks to an election victory no one was expecting, several news editors said in choosing that victory as the news story of the year.

"You got the sense some sort of change was coming, but very few predicted the Red Tide that started with the Liberals taking all 32 seats in Atlantic Canada, and continued across the country to give Justin Trudeau a strong majority in the House of Commons," said Greg Morrow, news director of 101.5 The Hawk in Port Hawkesbury, N.S..

The orange tide that swept Alberta politics in the form of an NDP victory was another contender for the year's most compelling story but was overshadowed by the economic realities in that province thanks to turmoil in the energy industry. Thirteen people cast their vote for that as the story of the year.

"Between pipeline debates, massive layoffs, environmental protests, greenhouse gas emissions and the plummeting price of oil, Canada's energy sector has been front and centre throughout 2015," said Margo Goodhand, editor of the Edmonton Journal.

Voting in The Canadian Press annual survey took place over a three-week period in late November through December. Seventy-three ballots were cast, with participants choosing from a list of stories provided by senior editors at The Canadian Press.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Death toll in Egypt attack on Christians rises to 29

    World News CTV News
    CAIRO -- The death toll in the attack by gunmen on a bus transporting Christians to a monastery south of Cairo rose to 29, Egyptian authorities said Saturday. The Egyptian Cabinet said in a news release that 13 victims of Friday's attack remained hospitalized in Cairo and the southern province of Minya where the attack took place. Source
  • U.K. lowers terror threat level to 'severe' as more arrested

    World News CTV News
    MANCHESTER, England -- Britain reduced its terrorism threat level a notch, from "critical" to "severe," as authorities said major progress has been made in unravelling the plot behind the Manchester bombing. Prime Minister Theresa May said "a significant amount of police activity" and several arrests had led to the level being lowered. Source
  • ISIS claims responsibility for deadly shooting on Coptic Christians in Egypt

    World News CBC News
    The group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) said on Saturday that its fighters were responsible for a shooting that killed dozens of Egyptian Christians on Friday, according to a statement from the group. Source
  • U.S. backs call for fight against protectionism in G7 communique

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to include a pledge to fight trade protectionism in a final communique due to be released later on Saturday at the end of a summit of Group of Seven leaders, a G7 source said. Source
  • N.S. party leaders stick to familiar scripts in campaign's final days

    Canada News CBC News
    The final Friday of this provincial election campaign was as illustrative as any of what each party leader wants voters thinking about as they prepare to cast their ballots. Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil started his morning at the office of a company that specializes in virtual reality flight simulation. Source
  • 11 arrests total in Manchester bomb investigation

    World News CBC News
    Police arrested two more suspects Saturday over the deadly Manchester concert bombing, as Britons began a sunny holiday long weekend under heightened security. Greater Manchester Police said two men, aged 20 and 22, were detained early Saturday in the northwest England city on suspicion of terrorism offences. Source
  • 5 things to watch for in today's Conservative leadership result

    Canada News CBC News
    After a year of campaigning, it's mostly over but the counting for the 13 candidates in the Conservative leadership race.Listen to CBC Radio's The House: Conservatives make their choiceFollow CBC's live coverage of the Conservative leadership conventionConservative leadership candidates lay out vision for party in final speechesAs the final few votes are cast in person and the tabulation machines set to work Saturday, here's what to watch for when the results are revealed at 5 p.m. Source
  • Mosul siege extends ISIS fight in Iraq, puts civilians at risk

    World News CTV News
    MOSUL, Iraq -- Iraqi forces are steadily closing in on the remaining pockets of territory held by the Islamic State group in Mosul, inching toward a victory that U.S.-led coalition officials say is "only a matter of time. Source
  • Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski dies

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Zbigniew Brzezinski, who helped topple economic barriers between the Soviet Union, China and the West as President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, died Friday. He was 89. His death was announced on social media Friday night by his daughter, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski. Source
  • Man hurling racial slurs kills 2, injures 1 on Portland train: police

    World News CTV News
    PORTLAND, Ore. -- Two people died Friday and another was hurt in a stabbing on a Portland light-rail train after a man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, one of whom was wearing a hijab, police said. Source