December 30, 2015 1:25 pm
Updated: December 30, 2015 3:51 pm

Here’s a look back at 8 of the biggest news stories of 2015

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to the stage with wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau at Liberal party headquarters, in Montreal, on October 20, 2015.


A new prime minister, a missing toddler found dead in Alberta, Syrian refugees seeking a new home and the terror attacks in Paris were among the most important stories to Canadians this year.

Violent mass shootings in the U.S. were also followed closely by Canadian audiences, as were the wildfires that swept through Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C. this summer causing evacuations and burning more than 2,150,000 hectares of forest.

Here is a list of eight of the biggest news stories in 2015.

Canadian election and Trudeau PM

Like father, like son.

Justin Trudeau scored a stunning victory in Canada’s 42nd general election becoming the first son of a prime minister to ascend to the top job.

READ MORE: Because It’s 2015: A Conversation with the Prime Minister

Trudeau, who ousted Stephen Harper, captured the attention of audiences at home and around the world. The results of the Oct. 19 election became’s most viewed story of the year as Trudeau and his Liberal government were given a majority mandate.

The newly minted prime minister had a busy schedule after taking office; he travelled to Paris to meet with world leaders on climate change, attempted to fulfill an election promise to resettle 25,000 refugees, and had to deal with the turmoil in Alberta’s energy industry.

Amber alert issued for 2-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette

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On Sept. 14, RCMP officers were called to a home in southern Alberta where 27-year-old Terry Blanchette was found dead.

Hours later an Amber Alert was issued for his daughter, two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, and would later be extended into B.C., Saskatchewan and Montana. It ended when the toddler’s remains were found in a rural area near Blairmore, Alberta.

The tragic death of the two-year-old resonated with audiences across the country. Condolences poured in from coast-to-coast, including from the prime minister and provincial politicians.

Derek Saretzky was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. After undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, the 22-year-old was found fit to stand trial and is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 26, 2016.

Paris attacks

A series of coordinated attacks struck the heart of the French capital on the evening of Friday, Nov. 13 leaving 130 people dead and several hundred severely wounded.

Teams of shooters and men wearing explosive vests attacked the Stade de France soccer stadium, restaurants and a concert hall, The Bataclan, that evening. It was the deadliest attack on French soil since the Second World War.

The so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, which they said were in retaliation for France’s air strikes against the jihadist group in Syria and Iraq.

The horror of the attacks drew international condemnation and President François Hollande declared it an “act of war” and intensified bombing against ISIS targets in Syria

The alleged ringleader of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed five days later during a police raid on his apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. An international manhunt is currently on for two other suspects, Mohamed Abrini and Salah Abdeslam.

The November attacks were the second major terrorist event to occur in France in 2015.

On the morning of Jan. 7, 2015, two gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people. Among those killed were eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor. Eleven others were wounded, four of them seriously.

READ MORE: Why was Charlie Hebdo magazine targeted in the Paris

A two-day manhunt ensued for Cherif and Said Kouachi, the two brothers suspected in the attack. French SWAT teams tracked the two suspects to a building north of Paris and killed them during a gun battle.

Another man with links to the Kouachi brothers, Amedy Coulibaly, killed four people and took hostages at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris before a police raid on the market ended the siege.

The three days of violence left 17 people dead including the three attackers.

Mass shootings in the U.S.

An African-American Church in Charleston, S.C., a college campus in Roseburg, Oreg., and a social services building in San Bernardino, Calif., became synonymous with the dozens of deadly mass shootings in the United States in 2015.

READ MORE: Why do Americans keep shooting each other to death

A year that was plagued by senseless violence; audiences in Canada and around the world were drawn to the shootings and the ensuing response from U.S. politicians on the issue of gun control.

There have been more than 350 mass shootings in 2015, or more than one each day of the year, according to the website Mass Shooting Tracker.

One deadly attack in Roanoke, Virginia was particularly horrific as it was captured on live television.

Vester Lee Flanagan, a disgruntled former reporter, shot two of his former colleagues while they were in the middle of a live report on Aug. 26. Reporter Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward were killed in the shooting. Flanagan later posted video of the shooting on social media that he filmed using a cellphone. He shot himself to death during a car chase with police later that day.

Syrian refugee crisis

The Syrian refugee crisis struck a chord with Canadian audiences over the summer when pictures of a dead three-year-old boy with connections to Canada surfaced.

Alan Kurdi, as well as his brother and mother, drowned while fleeing the ongoing civil war in Syria.

READ MORE: How the refugee crisis evolved in 2015

The picture of the drowned toddler grabbed headlines around the world and thrust the issue of Syrian refugees into the federal election.

Stephen Harper had to defend accusations he was too slow on the refugee file, and pledged to bring in an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees.

Meanwhile, Trudeau promised to bring 25,000 Syrians to Canada by year’s end, a promise that’s since been revised. John McCallum, the newly minted immigration minister, has set a new target of 35,000 to 50,000 by the end of 2016.

Western wildfires

Across western Canada several hundred wildfires charred millions of hecatres of forest and led to the evacuations of hundreds of homes in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C.

Roughly 7,000 forest fires burned nearly four million hectares of forest, according to the Canadian interagency forest fire centre.

Firefighters from across Canada and even from the United States pitched in to help combat the active fire season.

Earthquakes in Nepal kill nearly 9,000

Two massive earthquakes struck Nepal in April and May killing nearly 9,000 people.

READ MORE: 2nd deadly earthquake spreads fear, misery in Nepal

A 7.8-magnitude quake struck on April 25, killing more than 8,000 people and demolishing more than 600,000 homes, a majority of them in rural areas that were difficult for first responders to get to. A second 7.3-magnitude quake struck on May 12 about 80 km east of the capital Kathmandu just as Nepal was beginning to recover from the previous earthquake.

The quakes damaged or destroyed nearly 900,000 houses and many people remain homeless months after the disaster.

Germanwings crash kills 150

On March 24, Germanwings Flight 9525 en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf crashed into an Alpine mountain, killing all 150 people on board.

The aviation tragedy took an even darker turn after it was revealed the German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, had taken control of the Airbus A320 by locking the captain out of the cockpit and intentionally crashed the flight into the French Alps.

READ MORE: Pilot in Germanwings 9525 plane crash was locked out of cockpit

Prosecutors believe Lubitz was suicidal and suffered from severe depression. Evidence showed he had contacted dozens of doctors ahead of the crash, which has prompted calls for enhanced psychological screening for pilots.

*With files from Caley Ramsay, and the Associated Press

© 2015 Shaw Media

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