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A look at what 2013 taught us and what’s to come in 2014

By: Mansoor Ladha

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 12:43 pm

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We are welcoming the New Year – 2014 – and bidding goodbye to the old one. It is a time to take stock and reminisce about main events of 2013 and looking ahead positively.

The year 2013 was marked in Canada with political scandals and dominated by theatrics performed by Toronto’s infamous mayor Rob Ford. The scandalous trio of the Senate –

Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau - kept us busy with different versions of their tales.

We were entertained with I-said-he-said versions of their stories for months.

Senator Mike Duffy received the most ink, especially after it was revealed that Prime Minister Harper’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, wrote a personal cheque to Duffy.

Opposition politicians and media commentators questioned the prime minister’s role in the Duffy affair.

Two other senators, Sen. Pamela Wallin and Sen.

Patrick Brazeau also had to face the music about their personal expenses claimed.

It was unfortunate that the two of the three accused were former high-profile journalists – a profession that is dedicated to exposing corruption in society.

It is unthinkable when lawmakers themselves become lawbreakers.

Anyway, the constant accusations and investigations came to an abrupt end when their colleagues in the Senate suspended the three senators without pay and most benefits.

One thing good about the whole scandal is that it places senate reform on the forefront of the government and the public.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who was declared top newsmaker of 2013, will definitely continue his idiosyncratic behaviour in 2014.

We have seen and read enough about him so there is no need to repeat it, but it’s anybody’s guess what he will do to continue to entertain us in the New Year.

The year 2013 will go down in history as the year of disasters in Canada.

Alberta experienced heavy rainfall that triggered catastrophic flooding in Calgary and other communities in southern Alberta.

The floods, described as the worst in Alberta’s history left four dead and total damage estimated in excess of $5 billion.

Various communities united and spontaneous volunteer effort helped to minimize the damage.

More recently, Ontario, especially Toronto, Quebec and New Brunswick were hit with severe snowstorm, leaving thousands to spend the holidays without power and/or water.

On Boxing Day, about 78,000 customers in Ontario, 5,000 in Quebec and 19,000 in New Brunswick still had no power.

The biggest international story of 2013 was of course the death of Nelson Mandela, who united his nation and the world in life and in death.

This charismatic messiah of South Africa devoted his life so that his country can free itself from apartheid and colonialism.

Many at home are wishing for Canada to have a Mandela who can free this country’s native people from Canadian apartheid, so that the plight of Canada’s First Nation and Aboriginals should end.

It is hoped that a new era would dawn when they would be treated equally and more as individuals and accepted in the mainstream.

South Africa had Mandela, the US had Martin Luther King and India had Mohandas Gandhi. Are we not entitled to have our own Mandela? Just a thought.

As we ring in the New Year, it is time to think of our soldiers serving in various foreign countries and at home, those in the essential services who have to give up their holidays so that the rest of us can enjoy a safe festive season.

Their sacrifice and devotion to duty is unsurpassed and worthy of our gratitude.

As we look ahead, we should pray that the world is free from terrorism, wars, disasters and poverty.

If anyone of us can do even the slightest thing to avoid these evils of society, then we should do it and contribute towards the betterment of all around us.

While we say cheers to 2014, we must remember that the New Year gives us a chance to get it right.

As Goran Persson put it: “Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word. “

Mansoor Ladha is a Calgary-based journalist, travel writer and author.


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