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Canadians say Michael Brown, Eric Garner protests top U.S. story: poll

WATCH ABOVE: A new poll for Global News found 34 per cent of Canadians believe the protests surrounding the deaths of black men at the hands of police was the top story U.S. news story of 2014. Jackson Proskow looks back at that and other pivotal moments in U.S. news this year.

Canadians have chosen the protests that followed the controversial decisions to not lay charges against white police officers who killed unarmed black men, as the top story in U.S. news in 2014.

More than one-third (34 per cent) of people who responded to a Global News-Ipsos Reid poll, said the protests in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City, where the police-involved deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner occurred earlier this year, were a bigger story than the Ebola outbreak reaching the U.S. or President Barack Obama‘s faltering approval rating.

POLL: Who is Canada’s newsmaker of the year?

When the grand jury in the Michael Brown case decided on Nov. 24 not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of the 18-year-old in August, protesters took to the streets in the St. Louis suburb and in some instances reacted with violence. But the anger over the decision to clear Wilson fueled a nation-wide reaction to the perceived heavy-handed treatment of African-American men at the hands of white cops.

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WATCH: Police and protesters clash in Ferguson in reaction to grand jury decision (Nov. 24, 2014)

The outrage grew when a separate grand jury reached a similar decision in New York City, just days later on Dec. 3, to not pursue charges against New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of 43-year-old Garner, in July.

In the eyes of 19 per cent of respondents to the Ipsos-Reid poll, Ebola reaching U.S. soil was the top story of 2014.

READ MORE: Ebola fighters named 2014 Person of the Year by Time magazine

Two Americans, a doctor and a missionary who contacted the disease while working on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, were brought back to the U.S. for life-saving treatment in July.

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But it was the death of Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, the first case diagnosed in the U.S., that became a game changer. He was originally sent home from hospital even after exhibiting symptoms and telling doctors he had been to his native Liberia. Two nurses who treated the 42-year-old patient, also contracted the deadly virus. Both have since recovered.

Duncan’s was the first of two Ebola deaths on U.S. soil. The second was Dr. Martin Salia, a permanent U.S. resident who contracted the virus while working in Sierra Leone, who died on Nov. 17 despite being flown to the Nebraska Medical Centre for treatment.

Graphic by: Janet Cordahi.

Rounding out the top three U.S. stories, in the minds of 11 per cent of Canadians, was Obama’s slipping popularity.

After his Democratic Party lost its majority in the Senate to the Republicans, and gave up more seats in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Obama’s approval rating reached an all-time low in November, when it dipped to just 39 per cent.

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READ MORE: Canada’s top 10 most tweeted about moments of 2014

By late December, his approval rating had rebounded to 43 per cent —six percentage points ahead of former President George W. Bush’s approval rating when he wrapped up his sixth year in the Oval Office, according to a U.S. poll.

Rounding out the list, 9 per cent of respondents chose the legalization of marijuana, while 8 per cent said it was the U.S. led-coalition airstrikes on ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria.
The remainder of the top 10 U.S. stories, in the eyes of Canadians, included:
– the marriage equality debate (5 per cent)
– California’s drought and wildfires (4 per cent)
– the test flight of the Orion spacecraft (4 per cent)
– the controversy surrounding NFL star Ray Rice (3 per cent)
– the effects of the so-called Polar Vortex (2 per cent)
– speculation about Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016 (2 per cent)

Exclusive Global News Ipsos Reid polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos Reid.” This poll involved online interviews with a sample of 1,005 Canadians between December 16 to 19, 2014 on behalf of Global News. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points had all Canadian adults been polled.

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