Got It All

These were's stories that dominated the headlines in 2020 – and it's not just COVID-19 – CTV News

Daniel Milligan Social Media Producer
@danielrmilligan Contact
What a year it has been! Even though 2020 has made its mark in the history books, plenty of people will be trying to forget about it.
At the end of each year, crunches the numbers to see which stories our readers clicked on the most. While the COVID-19 pandemic dominated many of our headlines, many other topics caught the eye of our readers.
Tragedy struck on Jan. 8 when 57 Canadians, as well as approximately 80 others travelling to Canada, were killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after takeoff from Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport. In a later statement, the cause of the crash was “human error,” as the commercial flight was mistaken for a "hostile plane"
A nuclear alert was erroneously sent out to all Ontario residents on Jan. 12 during a training exercise at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.
On Jan. 26, the sporting world was dealt a blow when basketball legend Kobe Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, died in a helicopter crash in California.
Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna
Our most-read story in January involved Hussien Mehaidli, from B.C. who said he was fired from a job because he complained on Twitter about receiving a $6 bottle of barbecue sauce as a holiday gift – the story had an incredible reaction online, attracting more than 10,000 interactions on Facebook.
National pipeline protests started across the country on Jan, 7 through March, prompted after RCMP enforced an injunction against Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who were blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, a key part of the $40-billion LNG Canada export project. The blockades across the country caused Via Rail to cancel all services on CN tracks in Canada.
A couple from Victoria, B.C., who were out for a New Year’s Day picnic and a hike were treated to the surprise of a lifetime when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle helped them take a photograph.
It may feel like a long time ago but Jan. 25 was the date Canada’s first ‘presumptive positive’ case of COVID-19 was found in Ontario – a Toronto man who had recently travelled to Wuhan, China.
It has undoubtedly been a tough year for retail, among many of other sectors, but our updated list of some of the major chains in Canada closing all their doors, shuttering their locations or that have been hit by bankruptcy in the past two years, has been one of the most-read articles of 2020.
Meanwhile, in health news, Health Canada expanded a national recall for certain types of diabetes medications due to concerns that an impurity in the prescription drugs could be linked to cancer. There were also dengue fever concerns in the Caribbean after this 26-year-old Canadian died. A story we published on Feb. 13 speaking to survivors of the disease said travellers are not being warned.
In good news, it was a month to remember for a 22-year-old Quebec grocery store worker Gregory Mathieu, who won an incredible $70-million Lotto Max jackpot. The story was shared 6,500 times on Facebook and received 23,000 likes.
Finally, the first reports that new Ontario licence plates are unreadable at night became known. More than 400,000 people read that story and, three months later, the province decided to not move forward with the blue licence plate design.
As COVID-19 started to spread through Canada and infected hundreds of people, the widow of a 51-year-old Ontario man who died of the disease urged Canadians to listen to health officials. This heart-wrenching story struck a chord with readers.
The editorial team at launched a daily live blog for the latest updates on the global coronavirus outbreak. You can still follow all the latest COVID-19 news here. We also launched our daily tracker so readers could track every case of COVID-19 in Canada – this interactive graphic has become a staple piece of content for Canadians in 2020.  
COVID-19 tracker in Canada on Dec. 28
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to announce international flight restrictions and introduce a U.S.-Canada border closure was huge news in March, as was the news that Canadian scientists had made a COVID-19 research breakthrough, isolating virus.
Stories of people cashing in during the pandemic came to light, including this Vancouver couple who resold $100K of cleaning products purchased at Costco.
As some people figured out how they could make money during the early stages of the pandemic, many more were concerned about how they could pay bills amid widespread lay-offs. Our article explaining the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and how you could apply.
On the night of April 18, killer Gabriel Wortman, dressed as a Mountie and driving a vehicle made to look like an RCMP cruiser, set fire to several homes and murdered 22 people in Portapique, N.S. in what became Canada’s worst mass shooting in history.
Nova Scotia mass shooting
News from one of the prime minister’s daily briefings outside Rideau Cottage was April’s most-read story. It was his announcement that part-time and seasonal workers were eligible to claim the $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
PPE acquisition and mask wars began as manufacturing giant 3M says the White House requested it cease exports of U.S.-made N95 face masks to Canada.
Questions around COVID-19 lockdown rules began to surface with this query – Can I go for a drive during a global pandemic? – among the most-read in April. In other COVID news, pediatricians warned about ‘COVID toes’ in children infected with the virus.
Protests across Canada begin in solidarity with Americans protesting the death of George Floyd on May 25, and against police issues and systemic racism in Canada.
Walk for Justice
Just when you thought 2020 could not get any worse, we then had giant hornets with freakish eyes and a venomous sting to add to the year’s list of worries. Dubbed ‘murder hornets,’ they were first spotted in the U.S. and then later found in parts of B.C.
In a bid to boost morale during the pandemic, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds team performed a cross-country tour. However, it ended in tragedy on May 17 when one member of the team, later named as Capt. Jennifer Casey, died, after a plane crashed in Kamloops, B.C.
Capt. Jennifer Casey
After spending 17 years underground, millions of cicadas were also said to be emerging in parts of the United States and Canada.
A story suggesting Canadians who work from home permanently should expect salary changes got readers talking.
A mother and her three young daughters killed in a horrific crash in Brampton, Ont. The trial of 20-year-old Brady Robertson, who is charged with four counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and four counts of impaired driving, is set to be heard in July 2021.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 21 seconds of silence to a question about U.S. President Donald Trump’s response to racial unrest made the headlines on June 2 and was one of our most-read Don Martin columns of the year.

There were reports from police that two Americans had been fined for breaking Canada’s COVID-19 quarantine rules after being spotted multiple times in an Ontario town, as Canadians push back as U.S. Congress pressures Canada to reopen shared border
The ruthlessness of COVID was laid bare in a story from Florida after a father was hospitalized with COVID-19 after his son met friends against family’s wishes.
As the warmer weather hit, stories of people gathering in large numbers at beaches in B.C. and Ontario came to light, including this one from Canada Day at Wasaga Beach where ‘human behaviour was at its worst’.
Across the border, COVID-19 cases continued to soar as the U.S. experienced much less restrictions, highlighted by the Niagara Falls tour boats, which became a symbol of COVID-19 contrast.
Maid of the Mist and Hornblower
U.S. President Donald Trump’s younger brother, Robert Trump, a businessman known for an even keel that seemed almost incompatible with the family name, died after being hospitalized in New York. He was 71.
As the 2020 U.S. presidential continues to take shape, American historian Allan Lichtman made an early prediction. He has correctly predicted every U.S. presidential election winner since 1984, and this year he forecasted Democratic nominee Joe Biden would be the next president – which we now know to be true.
In other news, popular pasta sauce brand Ragu announced it was no longer selling products in Canada and NASA scientists said a magnetic anomaly above our planet is going to split in half.          
As the pandemic continued to radically alter how Canadians spent their money, experts said a second wave of COVID-19 would likely see consumers plagued by shortages — but this time stemming from "lifestyle changes" rather than panic buying such as stationary bicycles and patio heaters.
The distraught mother of a two-year-old girl who died in her sleep three days after being told by doctors her daughter only had the flu says she feels the health-care system failed her.
The news which got Canadians talking what U.S. President Donald Trump saying that Canada wants to see the Canada-U.S. border reopened on Sept. 18, despite the Canadian federal government saying it would make the decision based on public health advice.
In an exclusive interview with CTV National News’ Lisa LaFlamme on Sept. 9, WE Charity announced it was selling off its assets, eliminating staff and winding down operations in Canada months after becoming embroiled in a political scandal that has triggered investigations by the federal ethics watchdog.
Craig and Marc Kielburger
As the COVID-19 restrictions continued, and people looked for answers and solutions, this story, which suggested more than 80 per cent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had vitamin D deficiency grabbed the headlines.
In hyperlocal news, a story about two Ontario homebuyers who got a shock after the hot tub was removed before closing was shared hundreds of times on Facebook.
Trudeau’s minority government survived a confidence vote 180 to 146, in the House of Commons to defeat a motion to create a new committee to probe alleged Liberal corruption involving the government’s COVID-19 spending, allegations of conflicts of interest, and the WE Charity controversy. 
Netflix Canada increased prices for its monthly standard, premium plans and, as fall arrived, Canadians were urged to ‘leave the leaves’ alone, as experts say it’s good for the environment. Canada also announced it was banning single-use plastic bags, straws, cutlery and other items by the end of 2021. 
A lawsuit from a B.C. man who thought Canada Dry ginger ale had medicinal properties settled for $200K.
The month was dominated by the U.S. presidential election, as produced round-the-clock coverage with reporters based in Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles capturing every twist and turn. Our live blog was the most-read piece of content, followed by Donald Trump’s statement following the election result.
When Trump’s team confused its press conference location at ‘Four Seasons’ with a similarly-named landscaping business nearby, it prompted a huge reaction online.
The Canadian dollar hit its strongest level in more than two years and a first-of-its-kind intersection in P.E.I. was built – but it required 11 instructional videos for drivers.
Many in Ontario ended the year how they’d spent most of it – living under COVID-19 restrictions – as health officials announced a province-wide lockdown from December 26.
Some Canadians who applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) were being asked to repay the entire sum by Dec. 31 because of a tweak in the self-employed income wording to “net” self-employment income that was never mentioned in the original application.
As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines started, one question many have is: ‘What will I feel like after I take a vaccine?’ Canada first approved thePfizer-BioNTech shot and then approved the Moderna vaccine.
Scientists around the world reacted to news of a mutant strain of COVID-19. First identified in the U.K., and then many other countries, flights were suspended between Britain and Canada while work to understand its threat took place. Canada’s first cases of the new variant were a couple in Durham, Ontario, identified on December 26. More cases in Ottawa and Vancouver Island were also identified.
Capt. Jennifer Casey, top left, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, top right, the Nova Scotia mass shooting, bottom left, and CTV’s Lisa LaFLamme interviews the Kielburger brothers, bottom right.
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