Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh. (Canadian Press photos)

Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh. (Canadian Press photos)

Blackface, a gifted skull and an ICBC ‘dumpster fire’: B.C.’s top political stories of 2019

Here’s what caught our eye in 2019

It’s been a busy year for the political junkies out there. Truly, it’s been a busy year even if you tried to keep away from the political drama.

Here’s a look back at the moments that kept us glued to our screen in 2019.

Federal election

Justin Trudeau celebrates the Liberals’ election victory with wife Sophie. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Although the official campaigning period in Canada is quite short compared to our neighbours to the south, politicians made up for lost time this year.

Months before the campaign began, a Conservative candidate in Skeena-Bulkley Valley ricocheted into the headline when she bought her boyfriend a human skull. Yes, a skull. Claire Rattée told Black Press Media she spent “spent about six months researching” the skull to make sure it was not inappropriately seized from local First Nations, but was a European skull from the 1700s.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley Conservative candidate under fire for human skull gift

The election news didn’t stop there. In September, a photo of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in blackface at a 2001 party showed up in TIME Magazine, and in news outlets far beyond B.C. Trudeau apologized and said it was his love of costumes that got him into trouble. This Halloween, he avoided dressing up altogether.

‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

After blackface scandal, Trudeau shuns photo ops of trick or treating

The election campaign took a turn for the worse in October, as video surfaced of a man telling NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to cut off his turban so that he seemed more Canadian.

Racist encounters on Day 23 of the campaign

The campaign took a slightly lighter, albeit bizarre, turn at its very tail-end when Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer claimed to be an insurance broker but his credentials didn’t measure up to a closer look.

Then of course, the results. Trudeau and the Liberals secured a second mandate to govern, although Conservatives made up ground and won the popular vote.

Liberals return with minority government in Election 2019

ICBC overhaul

B.C. Attorney General David Eby announces overhaul of ICBC rates and handling of claims at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 6, 2018. (B.C. government)

British Columbia’s favourite “dumpster fire” only grew in size this year, as young drivers saw big spikes in insurances costs after an overhaul in September. Premier John Horgan said he regretted the increases for young drivers and they were “glaring examples” that more work needed to be done.

Premier John Horgan regrets big ICBC rate hikes for young people

New drivers pay most for optional ICBC coverage, David Eby says

Tensions with China

Trouble with the Chinese government ramped up in 2019, after Chinese authorities detained two Canadians in retaliation for the arrest of a Huawei executive in Vancouver last December.

Meng Wanzhou’s extradition to the U.S. continued to wind its way through the courts in 2019, and the two Canadians remained in custody overseas. In B.C., civic politicians and residents alike gathered at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September to demand the organization cut ties with China and nix the Chinese consulate’s reception.

‘Shame on you’: Demonstrators protest China-sponsored reception at UBCM

Huawei’s Meng ‘no longer fears unknown’ despite ‘torment, struggle’ of last year

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Logging truck convoy takes over Vancouver

It was a hard year for the forest industry and it all came to a head in September when a logging truck convoy turned up at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. Dozens of trucks blared their horns to draw attention to B.C.’s forestry workers struggling in the face of significant job losses.

VIDEO: Logging truck convoy stalls traffic in downtown Vancouver to protest job losses

Ride-hailing limps into existence

Ride-hailing is still not available in B.C. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)

It’s been a long road for ride-hailing in B.C., and it’s not over yet. In August, the province announced ride-hailing would come into effect with the same minimum fares as taxi, but with larger operating zones. They will also need Class 4 licences for all their drivers. Although Premier John Horgan said British Columbians would get ride-hailing by Christmas, that hasn’t quite turned out.

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Ride hailing might be B.C.’s Christmas present, John Horgan says

First ride-hailing licence approved in B.C.

UNDRIP becomes law

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Assembly of First Nations regional chief Terry Teegee calls on Ottawa to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, Ottawa, Dec. 3, 2019. (AFN)

The B.C. government became the first in North America to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

UNDRIP has become an international rallying cry for Indigenous people to leave behind colonial rule and achieve “free, prior and informed consent” for resource development and other activity in their traditional territories.

B.C. to be first to implement UN Indigenous rights declaration

UN Indigenous rights becoming law in B.C., John Horgan tells chiefs

B.C. treaty commissioner expects UNDRIP bill to speed treaty talks, more deals

B.C. legislature speaker scandal

Speaker Darryl Plecas speaks to media at the opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media)

Is this over yet? We’re not sure – it started in late 2018 with a wood chipper, but has continued throughout 2019. Legislature clerk Craig James retired in May after a report by a former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada found he improperly claimed benefits and used legislature property for personal reasons.

Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz retired in October despite the Supreme Court report clearing his name.

Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

B.C. legislature clerk in spending scandal retires after wrongdoing found

B.C.’s sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz resigns amid spending scandal

Resignations let B.C. legislature ‘turn the page,’ John Horgan says


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Power outages affected thousands of BC Hydro customers in the north on Jan. 14 (File photo) (File photo)
Power outages affect thousands of BC Hydro customers in northern B.C.

Transmission failure led to outages in Prince Rupert and Port Edward

A Prince Rupert port expansion project received a $25 million investment from the provincial government, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced on Jan. 14. Seen here is Ridley Terminals Inc., a coal export terminal in Prince Rupert (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)
$25 million government investment in Prince Rupert port expansion project

Prince Rupert port expansion project expected to create more than 2,200 jobs

For the second time in less than a year, Air Canada announced on Jan. 13 it has suspended flights on the Prince Rupert-Vancouver route as of Jan 17. (Photo by: Jerold Leblanc)
Cessation of flights to YPR will affect the municipal economy and global trade, P.R. Mayor said

Chamber of Commerce said it will aggressively pursue the resumption of flights to Prince Rupert

Air Canada has suspended flights to Prince Rupert Regional Airport due to COVID-19 mitigation, the airline announced on Jan. 13. (Photo:THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
YPR is not immune to plummeted air travel demands – 25 jobs lost

Prince Rupert Regional Airport flight cancellation will levee significant hardship - Rick Leach

Air Canada announced on Jan 13, that it is reducing operations by 25 per cent affecting flights into and from Prince Rupert.
Flights to Prince Rupert cancelled

Air Canada announced reduction in operation and more than 1,700 employees affected

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials says it will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questions the NDP government in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 25, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Todd Stone says he’s not running for B.C. Liberal leadership

Kamloops MLA was widely viewed as a front-runner

Most Read