December 27, 2013 8:20 pm
Updated: December 29, 2013 9:55 am

Biggest stories of 2013


ABOVE: Global National looks back on some of the most memorable and dramatic sights and sounds in 2013

The top stories that had our audience talking this year ran the gamut from the birth of a royal heir to the loss of one of the world’s most revered leaders.

Our Global News editorial team has selected some of the top stories of the year — ones that caught widespread attention, prompted online discussions or led to major policy changes.

Since Dec. 10, we’ve asked you to cast your votes for the biggest news story of 2013.

With more than 2,700 responses, these are your picks for the top stories of the year.

Thanks for voting.

1) Alberta floods – 23.87%

An unprecedented flood swamped southern Alberta in late June. In Calgary, the Elbow and Bow rivers spilled over their banks, bringing the downtown core and business district to a standstill for several days. Tens of thousands of residents were displaced, and estimates of property damage exceeded $1.7 billion. Albertans opened their homes and their hearts to those affected.

Mike Drolet looks back at biggest headlines in Canadian news in 2013

2) Lac-Megantic disaster – 10.59%

In the early hours of July 6, 47 people were killed in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic when an unmanned train carrying highly volatile crude rolled down the tracks from where it was stationed, derailed and exploded. The centre of the town was incinerated. An investigation into the disaster spurred questions about the safety of transporting oil and gas by train.

3) Death of Nelson Mandela – 10.08%

The face of Nelson Mandela is shown on a large billboard in the stands at the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in the Johannesburg, South Africa township of Soweto, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Ben Curtis/AP Photo

His wellbeing had been a cause for concern for months, but on Dec. 5, Nelson Mandela finally succumbed to a chronic lung infection that stemmed from his years of incarceration. Mandela’s death is being mourned by world leaders and those who fought for his freedom and the end of South African apartheid.

4) Rob Ford’s crack admission – 9.39%

The allegations Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was seen in a video smoking crack cocaine began in May, when two publications claimed to have seen the video. Ford vehemently denied the allegations for months, until a police investigation into an extortion case involving one of the mayor’s associates made it impossible for the mayor to avoid the story. While the mayor admitted to having smoked crack cocaine, he remained defiant in the face of calls for him to step down.

5) Boston Marathon Bombing – 7.97%

Police officers react to a second explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki)

John Tlumacki, The Boston Globe/AP Photo

As participants in one of the world’s top running events crossed the finish line in Boston, two homemade explosive devices went off, killing three people, injuring 260 more and shattering a relative calm in the country. Within days of the attack, parts of the Boston area were on lockdown as authorities hunted for two brothers seen on surveillance footage. In the end, one of the suspects was killed by authorities, while his younger brother was caught and charged with carrying out the deadly attack.
WATCH: Robin Stickley reviews some of the biggest stories in the U.S. in 2013

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6) Edward Snowden and the NSA leaks – 6.88%

Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden began releasing a series of classified documents he obtained while working for the U.S. National Security Agency and intelligence consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. The documents revealed a widespread U.S. government telecommunications monitoring program, allegations of spying on world leaders and U.S. citizens. The revelations didn’t stop at U.S. borders. Since June, Snowden has released documents alleging Canada has spied on Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy, conducted espionage at its embassies abroad and allowed the U.S. to spy on Canadian soil.

7) Senate expenses – 6.59%

Canada’s Senate spent much of the year under fire as four senators — one Liberal and three Conservative — became the focus of claims they misused taxpayer dollars.  But as the investigation went on, questions were raised about who knew what and how high up in the government the scandal reached.
WATCH: Mike Le Couteur looks at the past year in Canadian politics

8) Birth of Prince George – 5.28%

Prince William and his wife Catherine welcomed their first son — the third in line to the British throne — on July 22. Media camped out for weeks outside Kate’s hospital wing in what was dubbed ‘the Great Kate Wait,’ until Prince George finally arrived, capturing global attention.

Britain’s Prince William, right, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge hold the Prince of Cambridge, on Tuesday July 23, 2013.

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file

ABOVE: Stuart Greer takes a look at the top international stories of the year gone by.

9) Typhoon Haiyan hits the Philippines – 4.55%

Typhoon Haiyan was one of the strongest tropical cyclones to ever hit land. At first, the Philippines thought it might have dodged a bullet, as Haiyan — or Yolanda as it was known locally — moved rapidly over the archipelago. But when the storm blew ashore on Nov. 10, it flattened the central city of Tacloban, ripping homes to shreds, and left more than 5,000 people dead.

10) Death of Rehtaeh Parsons – 3.02%

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 bullying legislation and eventually charges against the boys who shared the video.

11)Syria chemical weapons – 2.62%

Syrian opposition groups began accusing the regime of Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons on civilians in April. But by late August, the evidence was almost undeniable as video emerged after an attack on the outskirts of Damascus. U.S. intelligence estimates of the death toll, in line with those of rebel groups, reported more than 1,400 people were killed. The revelations almost led to U.S. intervention, but a last minute deal saw Syria not only admit to possessing chemical weapons, but agreeing to allow international inspectors in the country to audit and eventually destroy its arsenal.

12) Bangladesh factory collapse – 1.13%

In this Saturday, May 4, 2013 file photo, pairs of brand new denim jeans are strewn over rubble from collapsed Rana Plaza garment factory building in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. A government investigation blamed the April collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building, which killed 1,129 people, on its poor construction, floors that were illegally added to the building and the use of heavy equipment it was never designed to hold. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

Wong Maye-E/AP Photo

More than 1,100 people died when the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Dhaka on Apr. 24. It was the worst disaster the country’s garment industry had ever seen and put a spotlight on the working conditions of labourers who make clothing for Western companies. Canada’s Joe Fresh — a subsidiary of grocery giant Loblaw — was one of the brands manufactured at the site.

13) Anti-shale gas/anti-oil sands protests grow – 0.95%

In Eastern and Western Canada, and both north and south of the border, the debate over Canada’s resource development and the cost it may have on the environment was one of the biggest debates of the year. The Canadian government faced staunch opposition to the development of the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry heavy crude from Alberta’s oilsands to the U.S. Gulf Coast. In New Brunswick, a fight over fracking reached a tipping point as protesters clashed with the government and RCMP officers to prevent shale gas exploration.

14) Quebec’s Charter of Values – 1%

Quebec’s minority government, led by the sovereigntist Parti Quebecois, announced plans to introduce legislation that would put limits on wearing religious symbols in public. Many accused the government as threatening religious freedom or discriminating against religious minorities.

15) Cory Monteith dies in Vancouver – 0.8%

The death of Glee star Cory Monteith in a Vancouver hotel this past summer was one of the most-read stories on The Canadian-born actor, who died from an overdose of heroin and alcohol, had a troubled history before rising to fame. His death at the age of 27 was met by an outpouring of grief from fans.

We also received several write-in votes for the biggest story of the year. Among them were:

Chris Hadfield’s time in space
The election of Pope Francis
Three women freed from years of captivity in an Ohio home
The recovery of Malala Yousafzai and her fight for girls’ rights
Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius’ charged with girlfriend’s murder
‘Duck Dynasty’ star Phil Robertson’s suspension over anti-gay comments
The death of actor Paul Walker

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