CTV Atlantic’s 2015 year in review: A to Z
Published Thursday, December 31, 2015 4:52PM AST
Last Updated Saturday, January 2, 2016 6:51PM AST
It was a harrowing experience for the 133 passengers and five crew members aboard Air Canada flight 624. The Transportation Safety Board says there was nothing mechanically wrong with the plane when its landing gear hit the ground about 225 metres before the runway, sliding to a stop.
RCMP have laid charges against two Bathurst City Police officers following the shooting death of 51-year-old Michel Vienneau of Tracadie-Sheila, N.B. Vienneau was shot in his vehicle near the Bathurst train station.
The body of the Truro police officer was discovered near the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in Halifax, two days after she was reported missing. Christopher Garnier is charged with second-degree murder and indecently interfering with a human body. The case returns to court on Jan. 12, 2016.
D: A difficult year for Dalhousie University
The Dalhousie School of Dentistry was the subject of a scandal that began in December of 2014. A taskforce report on misogyny, sexism and homophobia issued a scathing assessment of the institution on June 26, making 39 recommendations. University of Ottawa professor Constance Backhouse led the investigation in the aftermath of the discovery of a secret Facebook group called “Class of DDS 2015 gentlemen,” in which some male dentistry students posted misogynistic comments. In the report, the taskforce says the incident was not an isolated case of sexism, but stated, “We must recognize that we all live in a sexist, racist, and heterosexist culture to lay the groundwork for change.”
Then on Aug. 16, 22-year-old Dalhousie science student Taylor Samson went missing from his off-campus fraternity. Four days later, fellow Dalhousie student William Sandeson, 23, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in his death. Despite extensive searches, Samson’s body has not been found. A preliminary hearing will be held in February.
On Aug. 20, Dalhousie medical student Stephen Tynes was arrested and charged with uttering death threats and possession of a prohibited device. According to court documents, the 30-year-old is alleged to have told a psychiatrist that he had thoughts of shooting up to 20 people and then himself. Police seized weapons and ammunition at his home. The case will be in court in June.
And on Dec. 11, police responded to a medical call at a Dalhousie University residence. A 19-year-old student died of alcohol poisoning.
The so-called Red Tide washed over Atlantic Canada during the 2015 federal election, with the Liberals winning all 32 seats. Some longtime members of Parliament were ousted, including NDP members Megan Leslie and Peter Stoffer. Longtime Conservative MP and cabinet minister Peter MacKay stepped away from politics to spend more time with his family, choosing not to reoffer in the election.
N.S. Premier Stephen McNeil eliminated a key film tax credit in the spring budget, leading to major protests. The province’s film and TV industry says they’re losing jobs at an alarming rate. Statistics from the union say screen jobs plunged 82 per cent this fall as compared to the same period last year.
After 12 years as either premier or Liberal Leader, Robert Ghiz stepped down in February. Liberal Leader Wade MacLaughlan won a majority in the May 4 election.
Two Nova Scotia men who killed a homeless man by setting him on fire as he slept in a bus shelter in October of 2013 were sentenced to life in prison in April. Daniel Surette, 27, and Kyle Fredericks, 26, pleaded guilty in February to second-degree murder in Lawrence’s death. The 62-year-old lived on the streets of Berwick, N.S.
The fundraising game brought in millions of dollars for the tiny Cape Breton community of Inverness in 2015. Tens of thousands of people travelled to the community each week as the jackpot grew to $1.7 million. In all, more than 3.5 million tickets were sold, generating $5.9 million in revenue for local charities and more than $2.9 million in prizes.
Canada’s world junior hockey team is currently defending its gold medal in Helsinki, Finland, with Maritimer Mason MacDonald minding the net. On Jan. 5, 2015, Team Canada beat Team Russia 5-4 in Toronto, ending a gold medal drought that dated back to 2009.
Moncton welcomed the world and as it played host to the women’s world cup of soccer. The city hosted seven matches, generating about $33.9 million in economic spinoffs for the province of New Brunswick.
Allegations of partisan misuse of the New Brunswick government-owned fishing camp have been turned over to the RCMP. New Brunswick’s attorney general was asked to investigate the Alward government’s use of the lodge earlier in the year.
A third and final sentence in the so-called “murder for lobster” case has been handed down to Dwayne Samson, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Philip Boudreau off Petit de Grat, N.S., in 2013. The captain of the Twin Maggies will serve 10 years in prison for his part in Boudreau’s death. Samson and his crew rammed Boudreau’s boat, shot him and dragged him out to sea before tying him to an anchor and sending him to the bottom. Boudreau’s body has never been found.
N: Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children restorative inquiry council named, Nov. 2
A dozen people have been named to guide the restorative inquiry into abuse at the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children. The council includes Tony Smith, a former resident who was instrumental in the fight to get the inquiry. Several former residents allege they were subjected to physical, psychological and sexual abuse over several decades up until the 1980s.
A jury has found Dennis Oland guilty of second-degree murder in the beating death of his father, Saint John businessman Richard Oland, in 2011. In the aftermath of the lengthy trial, the New Brunswick Police Commission says an investigator will take a closer look at how the Saint John Police force handled the case. Dennis Oland’s lawyers say they have started working on an appeal.
Jean Claude Savoie has been ordered to stand trial in connection with the deaths of two young brothers in Campbellton, N.B., in August of 2013. Four-year-old Noah Barthe and his six-year-old brother Connor were at a sleepover at Savoie’s apartment when they were asphyxiated by an African Rock Python, which had escaped its enclosure in the pet store Savoie owned below. Savoie is charged with criminal negligence causing death. His trial date has not been set.
Q: QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax deals with problems
The Victoria General Hospital at the QEII Health Sciences Centre has been the subject of criticism after mice and bed bugs were found on some floors, and floods cause hundreds of surgeries to be postponed in September and December. Nova Scotia’s health minister has promised a plan to replace the hospital, which will be released in January of 2016.
More than 500 operations had to be postponed in April and May after corrosion from aging sterilization equipment deposited black debris on surgical tools at the Halifax Infirmary site.
Some privately funded campaigns have already welcomed families from war-torn Syria to the region, in addition to the 25,000 refugees the federal government has promised it will bring to Canada by the end of February 2016. Donations for the refugees have poured in across the Maritimes.
The beleaguered senator’s fraud trial has adjourned until the new year. Mike Duffy took the stand in December but was not asked about the infamous $90,000 cheque that is at the centre of the case.
There was heightened tension in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks on Nov. 13. In the days following, two planes had to be diverted to Halifax’s Stanfield International Airport after bomb threats were received.
N.S. Premier Stephen McNeil and the Liberal government have passed legislation that will force all public sector unions to accept a wage freeze for the next two years. The wage pattern will be forced upon any union that attempts to go to arbitration.
Halifax police charge two people with conspiracy to commit murder after they discover a plot aimed to kill as many people as possible at the Halifax Shopping Centre on Valentine’s Day. Twenty-year-old Randall Shepherd of Halifax and 23-year-old Linsday Souvannarath of Illinois were arrested, and 19-year-old James Gamble of Halifax was found dead in his Halifax-area home by police. The allegations have not yet been proven in court.
Most Maritime communities struggled through one of the worst winters anyone can remember in 2015. The cost of cleaning up added up in Atlantic Canada and left lasting snow piles that took months to clear, and the City of Saint John had to call a local state of emergency in the southern peninsula because of the massive amounts of snow. Halifax’s 311 call centre took more than 17,000 snow-related inquiries and complaints over the winter.
Former Nova Scotia teacher Amy Hood was on trial for sex charges involving two of her former students. Her lawyers admit she committed the actions for which she’s been charged, but argued she was not criminally responsible at the time. The judge will rule early in 2016.
2015 was a strange year for MLA Andrew Younger, who resigned his post as Minister of Energy in March after police charge a woman with assaulting him in 2013. He was named Minister of Environment in July. In November, Younger cited parliamentary privilege as a reason not to appear in court to testify against her, and a day later he was removed from cabinet and the Liberal caucus. Younger then released a snippet of a secretly-recorded conversation to the media on Nov. 13, in which he alleges the premier’s chief of staff, Kirby McVicar, counselled him on how to get back into cabinet. In the following weeks, Younger released two more recordings, including a 12-minute tape which he says is the complete conversation between himself and McVicar. After a series of media interviews in which he divulged Younger’s confidential health information, McVicar handed in his resignation. In a year-end interview with CTV News, Premier Stephen McNeil did not rule out the possibility of hiring McVicar back in some capacity.
The Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton welcomed a record number of visitors in 2015, with many stopping by to see the tiger exhibit. The zoo’s new exhibit is home to two Amur tigers.
A pedestrian walks on a downtown street in Halifax on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)