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

  • Police: 2 dead, 15 reportedly injured in Missouri shooting

    World News CTV News
    KANSAS CITY, MO. -- Police in Kansas City, Missouri, say at least two people are dead and 15 people were reportedly injured in a shooting outside a bar. The shooting took place shortly before midnight Sunday, Kansas City police said at a press conference at the scene. Source
  • Martin Luther King holiday: Faith, politics mix this holiday

    World News CTV News
    ATLANTA -- The nation is marking the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with tributes Monday recalling his past struggles for racial equality, observing the federal holiday named for him against the backdrop of a presidential election year. Source
  • What you need to know about Trump's impeachment trial

    World News CBC News
    On Dec. 18, U.S. President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He now faces the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. Source
  • First phase of Meng Wanzhou's extradition hearing begins in Vancouver

    Canada News CBC News
    More than a year after Meng Wanzhou's arrest at Vancouver International Airport, the first formal phase of the Huawei executive's extradition hearing begins Monday in B.C. Supreme Court. American prosecutors want Meng sent to New York to face fraud charges related to allegations she deceived banks about Huawei's control of a company accused of violating U.S. Source
  • Trudeau to talk carbon tax, public safety with Manitoba premier on Day 2 of cabinet retreat

    Canada News CBC News
    The Liberal cabinet retreat begins its second day in Winnipeg Monday with a meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister to talk about public safety, flood protection and the thorny topic of the federal carbon tax. Source
  • Prince Harry might be looking for a job when he comes to Canada. Here are some options

    Canada News CBC News
    With the announcement on Saturday that Prince Harry and Meghan will no longer be working members of the Royal Family — and therefore no longer receiving money from the public purse — the couple may be looking for work when they eventually arrive in Canada. Source
  • Virginia's capital braces for gun-rights rally

    World News CTV News
    RICHMOND, VA. -- Virginia's capital city is bracing for the expected arrival of thousands of gun-rights activists and other groups that have vowed to descend on Richmond to protest Democrats' plans to pass gun-control legislation. Gov. Source
  • Malaysia sends back trash, says won't be world's waste bin

    World News CTV News
    PENANG, MALAYSIA -- Malaysia has sent back 150 containers of plastic waste to 13 mainly rich countries since the third quarter last year, with the environment minster warning on Monday that those who want to make the country a rubbish bin of the world can "dream on. Source
  • Crowded footbridge breaks over Indonesian river, killing 9

    World News CTV News
    JAKARTA, INDONESIA -- A footbridge on Indonesia's Sumatra island broke while it was packed with people and several fell into the overflowing river below and drowned, officials said Monday. Nine bodies have been pulled from the water as far as 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) from the bridge that broke Sunday afternoon in Kaur district of Bengkulu province. Source
  • Crimes? Impeachment prosecutors, defence lay out arguments

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump's defence team and the prosecutors of his impeachment are laying out their arguments over whether his conduct toward Ukraine warrants his removal from office. Trump's lawyers on Sunday previewed their impeachment defence with the questionable assertion that the charges against him are invalid, adopting a position rejected by Democrats as "nonsense. Source