Another year is ending and a new one is about to begin. Now is the time to be full of hope for the future, joy at what we’ve accomplished, and a yearning to be better in 2014. But as we look forward to that future, we also can’t forget about the lessons we’ve learned in 2013. Unfortunately, in at least two of our top Canadian financial news stories of 2013, there were many lessons to be learned.
Scandal in the Senate
The Senate scandal actually began in late 2012, but details of the four Senators that claimed ineligible expenses extended into 2013 and is still going on. It began with Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy, who both claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars collectively in housing expenses for the scandal, and continued on with Patrick Brazeau and Senator Mac Harb. The scandal became a major focal point for all Canadians, especially those in opposition to the Conservative government. While all but Wallin have repaid the amount, it’s forced Nigel Wright – Stephen Harper’s right hand man – to leave office, and has now resulted in the hot debate surrounding Senate reform vs. abolishing the Senate.
Who can forget the morning of July 6, when train cars carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec? The accident killed 47 people and destroyed half of the downtown core. The cost was first estimated at $500 million but has since been pegged at closer to $1 billion for post-disaster expenses. And, because the railway involved says that it simply does not have the money to pay for it, that cost could be pushed over onto Canadian taxpayers.
Also occurring in the summer were the floods that swept out much of Calgary just weeks before their annual iconic Calgary Stampede. The rest of the country looked on at pictures of the Saddledome under water (up to the first ten rows of seats!) and as the Stampede grounds were completely flooded out. The damage was caused by the 800 cubic metres per second that came pouring into the city, and is being called the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.
Who needs a reminder of the onslaught of Ford news we’ve endured this year? It started in May, when reports of a video surfaced that claimed to show the mayor of Toronto smoking crack and making derogatory remarks to different races. He denied it until November, when he came forward and said that yes, he has smoked crack in the past. For the following weeks, Ford crumbled further making more insulting remarks to the media and having more outbursts caught on tape. At first this may not seem like financial news, but councillors in Toronto’s City Hall kept demanding he step down as City business wasn’t getting done; and defenders of Ford said his private life should be kept private as he’s saved Toronto millions of dollars during his time as mayor.
What were your favourite financial news stories of 2013? Were there stories that may not have been financial, but that you found just as interesting?