Canada’s Most Notable People and Events of 2014
As 2014 comes to an end, we would like to take a few moments to reflect on some of the most notable people and events featured in a variety of stories on topics that defined the year.
Here is a look back at 2014 in Canada:
Biggest National Story:
In October we mourned the shooting and killing of Nathan Cirillo, a soldier on ceremonial duty at the Canadian National War Memorial, by Islamic convert Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. Following the murder, Zehaf-Bibeau attacked the Parliament building, where he was cornered and killed following a shootout.
Biggest Political Story:
After a big win in provincial elections, it seems that the Liberals are also doing very well in the federal polls. There are speculations that suggest third-party leader Justin Trudeau actually has a shot at forming a government after the October 2015 election.
Biggest Economy Story:
The 46% drop since June in crude prices has prompted energy companies such as Husky Energy Inc. and MEG Energy Corp. to reduce their investments. The lower oil prices are also causing governments to recalibrate their projections on what profits oil can bring. Other industries like retail, banking or the housing industry may suffer from dampened demand. This may lead to lower GDP growth and higher unemployment in our oil-rich province.
Biggest Tax Story:
The Conservative government allocated a few tax cuts this fall in anticipation of a surplus budget. Harper government's tax cut measures come into effect Jan. 1. According to Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Family Tax Cut, along with changes to the Universal Child Care Benefit, will provide substantial tax savings for families with children.
Biggest Business Story:
Keystone XL pipeline, which would stretch from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico, is at the center of a years-long, contentious debate among politicians, energy companies and environmentalists. The Harper government has been lobbying Washington for years to approve the contentious pipeline that would carry 830,000 barrels of oil to the Gulf of Mexico. However, the Obama administration has delayed on the Keystone XL oil pipeline for six years due to pressure from environmental groups who oppose Canada's exploitation of its oil sands because of its supposedly harmful impacts on the world's climate.
Biggest Legal Story:
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin seemed to get the better of Prime Minister Stephen Harper this year. Her court ruled that the Prime Minister was offside of the law when he tried to name semi-retired federal appellate judge Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court.
Biggest Health Story:
2014 saw the largest outbreak of the deadly virus since it was first discovered in 1976, with the World Health Organization estimating the death toll to be over 7,500 and the number of cases detected to be nearing 20,000. In August, NewLink, Ames-based pharmaceutical company, received a $1 million contract from the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency to bring its Ebola vaccine closer to human trials. NewLink has since partnered with New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Merck to help research, develop, manufacture and distribute the vaccine.
Biggest Tech Story:
700 MHz spectrum auction accelerated Canada’s wireless future. This range of radio frequencies can penetrate deeply into buildings and underground enabling telecom companies to deliver next-generation wireless services.
Biggest Population Story:
In 2014 we welcomed a record number of new citizens to the country. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander says more than 260,000 people became new Canadians during 2014.
Biggest Real Estate/Mortgage Story:
In May Investors Group stunned us with what appeared to be the deepest discount in Canadian history on a floating rate loan, offering a deal that takes an effective mortgage rate down to 1.99%. The company offered 1.01 percentage points off its prime rate of 3% for a variable rate mortgage. The borrowers were offered the rate for a 36-month term.
Biggest Sport Story:
The Canadian men's hockey team shut out Sweden 3-0 in Sochi to win gold for the second straight Winter Olympics. The Canadian women's team also celebrated a 3-2 victory against U.S. and brought home its fourth straight Olympic women’s hockey gold.
Biggest Weather Story:
According to the national weather agency, Snowfall records were set in Windsor, Ont., Kenora, Ont., Calgary, Red Deer and a few other cities. It was also the winter where dense Arctic air moved much farther south than normal.
Biggest Entertainment Story:
In September Jian Ghomeshi departed his post at CBC's popular radio show Q. By late November, a number of women had come forward with allegations, and, Ghomeshi was formally charged with four counts of sexual assault. Ghomeshi has plead not guilty to all charges.
Biggest Generosity Story:
We were moved by Torontonians’ generosity when Alberta’s identical triplet boys required treatment at one of Toronto’s hospitals. Mason, Thomas and Luke Low, who were all diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer, were to receive treatments at the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. After their parents posted an online plea for temporary housing in the city, in just over 36 hours they received more than 500 emails from generous Torontonians offering accommodations.
Biggest Community Story:
After the deadly attacks on the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill in October, dozens of people came together in Cold Lake, Alta., to clean up a mosque after it was vandalized and the words "Go home" were written multiple times across the outside of the building in red spray paint. During the cleanup, volunteers put up new messages that read, “You are home” and “Love your neighbors.”
How innovation is transforming government
According to Washington Technology’s Top 100 list, Leidos is the largest IT provider to the government. But as Lieutenant General William J. Bender explains, “that barely scratches the surface” of the company’s portfolio and drive for innovation.
Bender, who spent three and a half decades in the military, including a stint as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), has seen action in the field and in technology during that time, and it runs in the family. Bender’s son is an F-16 instructor pilot. So it stands to reason Bender Senior intends to ensure a thriving technological base for the U.S. Air Force. “What we’re really doing here is transforming the federal government from the industrial age into the information age and doing it hand-in-hand with industry,” he says.
The significant changes that have taken place in the wider technology world are precisely the capabilities Leidos is trying to pilot the U.S. Air Force through. It boils down to developing cyberspace as a new domain of battle, globally connected and constantly challenged by the threat of cybersecurity attacks.
“We recognize the importance of the U.S. Air Force’s missions,” says Bender, “and making sure they achieve those missions. We sit side-by-side with the air combat command, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure across the Air Force. There are multiple large programs where the Air Force is partnering with Leidos to ensure their mission is successfully accomplished 24/7/365. In this company, we’re all in on making sure there’s no drop in capability.”
That partnership relies on a shared understanding of delivering successful national security outcomes, really understanding the mission at hand, and Leidos’ long-standing relationship of over 50 years with the federal government.
To look at where technology is going, Bender thinks it is important to look back at the last 10 to 15 years. “What we’ve seen is a complete shift in how technology gets developed,” he says. “It used to be that the government invested aggressively in research and development, and some of those technologies, once they were launched in a military context, would find their way into the commercial space. That has shifted almost a hundred percent now, where the bulk of the research and development dollars and the development of tech-explicit technologies takes place in the commercial sector.”
“There’s a long-standing desire to adopt commercial technology into defense applications, but it’s had a hard time crossing the ‘valley of death’ [government slang for commercial technologies and partnerships that fail to effectively transition into government missions]. Increasingly we’re able to do that. We need to look at open architectures and open systems for a true plug-and-play capability. Instead of buying it now and trying to guess what it’s going to be used for 12 years from now, it should be evolving iteratively.”