December 31, 2013 9:15 am
Updated: December 31, 2013 9:38 am

Rehtaeh Parsons case voted top Maritimes news story of 2013

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ABOVE: Global’s Shelley Steeves has a look back at some memorable moments from 2013

It was a busy news year on Canada’s east coast, with stories highlighting myriad issues, from mental health and sexual violence to environmental protection and exotic animal laws.

READ MORE: Vote on the top national and international news stories of 2013

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Some stories garnered national, and in some cases international, attention — putting places like Woods Harbour, N.S. and Campbellton, N.B. on the map — but it was often for the wrong reasons.

It was also a busy year for Global News itself, with the launch of The Morning News in January and a re-designed website in March, followed by updated branding in both the Halifax and New Brunswick markets a short time after that.

READ MORE: See all Global News 2013 year in review stories

Our Global News editorial team has selected some of the top stories of the year from the region — ones that garnered widespread attention, prompted online discussions or led to calls for social change. We also asked you to vote for the top story, and here are the results:

Death of Rehtaeh Parsons – 40.17%

The death of Nova Scotia teenager Rehtaeh Parsons prompted a rallying cry against bullying. Parsons’ family said the 17-year-old was relentlessly bullied after a cellphone video of her allegedly being sexually assaulted by a group of boys was circulated among her peers. Criticism of the police and the school board’s handling of the situation led to anti-bullying legislation and eventually charges against the boys who shared the video.

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Anti-shale gas protests in New Brunswick – 19.66%

Protests in New Brunswick over shale gas exploration intensified in October when protesters clashed with RCMP near Rexton. When officers moved to break up a blockade that was preventng SWN Resources employees from accessing seismic testing trucks, protesters retaliated by setting fire to several RCMP vehicles, resulting in dozens of arrests. Protesters said police were unnecessarily violent and had destroyed several of their campsites during the confrontation. After numerous stops and starts in the ensuing weeks, including court battles over an injunction filed by SWN and more highway blockades, the company wrapped up its testing in December and left the area.

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Deadly python attack in Campbellton – 15.81%

Four-year-old Noah Barthe and his six-year-old brother Connor were found dead after a 45-kilogram African rock python escaped its enclosure in the apartment where they were staying. Police say the snake slithered through a ventilation system located above its tank and fell through the ceiling into the room where the boys slept. Preliminary results of autopsies showed the boys were asphyxiated by the python, which provincial officials said was not permitted in New Brunswick. Numerous reptiles were seized from the store, which is owned by a family friend of the boys.

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Miss Ally shipwreck – 7.26%

The Miss Ally capsized off the coast of Nova Scotia on Feb. 17, 2013. (Photo collected on Facebook)

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Search and rescue crews spent days searching for five fishermen — Katlin Todd Nickerson, Billy Jack Hatfield, Steven Cole Nickerson, Tyson Townsend and Joel Hopkins — who were lost at sea when their fishing boat, the Miss Ally, capsized in the water approximately 239 kilometres southeast of Halifax. The search was eventually called off and a memorial service was held to give the community of Woods Harbour a chance to come to terms with the loss of the young men.

Liberals win big in Nova Scotia election – 4.7%

Four years after Nova Scotians elected Darrell Dexter and the province’s first NDP government, the political landscape shifted dramatically as Stephen McNeil’s Liberals won 33 of 51 seats to gain control of the legislature. Jamie Baillie and the PC party won 11 seats to form the new official Opposition, and the NDP was relegated to third-party status with seven seats. Shortly after the election, Dexter, who lost his seat, resigned as NDP leader and McNeil kicked off his mandate with a fall sitting of the legislature.

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Attack on Scott Jones – 4.27%

Scott Jones, a 27-year-old man from New Glasgow, was stabbed on Thanksgiving weekend, and the attack severed his spinal cord and left him paralyzed from the waist down. Friends and family said the attack was motivated by the fact that Jones is gay, an assertion that was not confirmed by police. Shane Edward Matheson, 19, was arrested for the attack on charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. The incident prompted an outpouring of community support for Jones, with musicians and others organizing fundraisers to help pay for his medical expenses.

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Saint Mary’s frosh “rape chant” – 2.56%

Frosh week leaders at Saint Mary’s University landed in hot water when a video of students chanting about sexual assault was posted to Instagram in September. The aftermath saw the school’s students’ union president step down, other frosh leaders face discipline and a report make 20 recommendations aimed at fostering a cultural change at the school to encourage respectful behaviour.

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Arrest in Richard Oland murder case – 2.14%

Dennis Oland, the son of slain Saint John businessman Richard Oland, was charged in November with second-degree murder by police in connection with his father’s homicide more than two years ago. Oland was a member of the family that owns Moosehead Breweries Ltd., but left the company in the 1980s. His son was first identified as a suspect in the case in court documents released in May after two media organizations argued they should be made public. Oland was granted bail, and a judge adjourned the case until Jan. 21.

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Chris Brown concert controversy – 0.43%

There was a public outcry after recording artist Chris Brown was announced as the headline act for a late-summer concert series, which included events scheduled for Halifax and Saint John. Halifax residents — including Mayor Mike Savage — reacted with anger over the decision to invite the singer to perform and a number of businesses pulled their sponsorship over concerns about Brown’s past legal troubles — notably, his 2009 attack on then-girlfriend and fellow recording artist Rihanna, and his subsequent probation violation. The concerts were ultimately postponed to 2014, although the promoter said the decision had nothing to do with the backlash.

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The “other” option in the poll accounted for the remaining 2.99 per cent of the votes cast. There were also stories not included in the poll that were significant for Global News:

Global New Brunswick’s Paul McLaughlin retires

WATCH: Ron Kronstein takes us through Paul’s career as a reporter — which began in 1967 — covering high-profile stories throughout the region.

Chris Hadfield visits Global Halifax

WATCH: Former astronaut Chris Hadfield talks to Morning News host Crystal Garrett about his new book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.

Vine of the year

Here’s a list of some other big local stories from 2013:

*With files from Global News’ Nick Logan and The Canadian Press

© 2013 Shaw Media

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