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NEWS 1130's Top 10 stories of 2019

Last Updated Dec 23, 2019 at 11:32 am PDT

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – From a suspected overdose death that rocked the Lower Mainland, to violent democratic protests overseas, and the biggest win for Canada’s only NBA team — this past year saw its fair share of important stories which have captivated B.C. and the world.

Here are NEWS 1130’s 10 biggest stories of 2019, in no particular order:

Carson Crimeni’s suspected drug overdose

Carson Crimeni’s suspected overdose death this past summer rocked the community of Langley and sparked investigations and petitions.

On Aug. 7, Carson, 14, slowly died in Walnut Grove Skatepark in front of older teens, who apparently gave him drugs and pulled out their phones to film him. They laughed, instead of calling for help when Carson showed signs of trouble.

The Langley RCMP officers sent to the skatepark that evening found no sign of Carson or the people he was with. It wasn’t until two hours after those officers had left that he was found and taken to the hospital by ambulance.

It was too late and he died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Shortly after, the skatepark was flooded with flowers, candles and stuffed toys. A GoFundMe page for Carson’s family raised over $40,000, and an emotional public funeral drew hundreds.

Both the Langley RCMP and the B.C.’s police watchdog launched investigations. A petition called for justice for the teen gained over 55,000 signatures while another asked the city to rename the skate park after Carson.

The officer who responded to the initial 911 call were recently cleared of any wrongdoing by B.C.’s Police Watchdog, but the Langley RCMP investigation continues.

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Greta Thunberg’s climate crusade

A young girl from Sweden took the world by storm in 2019, inspiring millions of young people to take to the streets and demand action on climate change.

Greta Thunberg made an incendiary speech at the United Nations in September, asking a very simple, very direct question — “How dare you?”

The 16-year-old climate activist called out politicians for ignoring the threat of climate change and the future of young people around the world.

She had already inspired an international movement, dubbed Fridays for the Future, with young people marching to demand action and accountability from world leaders. After Thunberg’s fiery speech, millions more around the globe joined the cause.

In Vancouver, a late-September climate march attracted 100,000, predominantly young, people to the streets of downtown Vancouver.

Thunberg was chosen as TIME’s Person of the Year for starting and leading the movement.

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Hong Kong protests

What started as a small dispute over an extradition bill, ultimately ballooned into a pro-democracy movement which continues to consume Hong Kong over six months later.

Since June, massive, and sometimes violent, protests have crippled various parts of the city, from a busy metro system, to the international airport, to the centrally-located Polytechnic University.

Even after Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam scrapped the contested bill, demonstrators and riot police continued to clash in the streets with one side wielding tear gas and rubber bullets, the other with umbrellas and Molotov cocktails.

As China’s influence on the world stage continues to grow, its unflinching opposition to the protests is a reminder that behind it all is a regime with little regard for democratic freedoms.

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Trudeau’s costume faux pas

Despite the backlash Justin Trudeau faced amid the embarrassing brownface scandal, he was still able to win this year’s federal election.

Less than a week on the campaign trail, a Time Magazine story broke showing Trudeau, a then-29-year-old private school teacher in Vancouver, dressed in a robe, turban, and brownface for an “Arabian Nights” themed party in 2001.

The reaction from both politicians, advocacy groups and late night talk show hosts was swift.

Within hours, Trudeau, said sorry but also admitted he had worn similar facepaint when he was in high school. Then, an old video surfaced depicting Trudeau in dark makeup on his face and possibly legs and arms, laughing, and making faces. He went on to describe it all as a mistake.

We also heard from the man who leaked the initial photo of Trudeau, who claimed he was not affiliated with any political party and received no payment for sharing the image.

Despite the anger and repeated calls for resignation, Trudeau’s Liberals went on to win a minority government on Oct. 21.

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Scandal shrouds the Vancouver Whitecaps

In a season the Vancouver Whitecaps had hoped would centre on the 40th anniversary of the club’s 1979 Soccer Bowl championship, a very different story emerged.

Former members of the now-defunct women’s team brought forward decade-old abuse allegations about coaches involved with the squad and the national program. Former player Ciara McCormack was the first to level claims of bullying, harassment, and sexually inappropriate behaviour in February, before she was eventually joined by 13 other women.

It wouldn’t be until May that the Whitecaps finally issued an apology to the players, following months of protests by fan groups, season ticket holder threats to cancel, and extensive reporting by NEWS 1130 and other outlets.

Sport Law & Strategy Group has completed a third party review of how the club handled the situation in 2008, finding that it handled the situation “reasonably,” although failed to communicate what it was doing properly to the players involved.

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Toronto Raptors put Canada on top

The Toronto Raptors 2018-19 season began with a major gamble, as the perennial playoff team traded away its better player for a disgruntled superstar.

But as much as Raptors fans appreciate Demar Derozan, the move to acquire Kawhi Leonard proved to be an all-time great trade.

He led the team to the second-best record in the NBA, before creating one of the greatest moments in league history with his series winning shot against Philadelphia that hit the rim four times before dropping in.

Leonard and the Raptors went on to shock the world by upsetting first place Milwaukee, then ending the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty by taking home their first-ever NBA Championship.

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The arrest that strained Canada’s relation with China

It’s a case that’s grabbed international attention: the extradition hearings of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou.

More than a year after she was first taken into custody, Canadian courts are still trying to figure out if she should or can be sent to the U.S. to stand trial.

America claims she violated the country’s trade sanctions on Iran.

Her arrest is thought to have sparked retaliatory moves by China, including the detainment of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

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A city divided: Surrey’s push for a municipal police force

Surrey has had enough — enough gang violence, enough gun violence, and too many innocent lives lost. It was this belief the mayor and council members stood by as they planned for a new police force in the city that would replace the Surrey RCMP.

But support began to splinter when the report outlining the police transition was sent to the province without public consultation.

The move also caused three councillors to leave the Safe Surrey Coalition, to sit as independents.

Mayor Doug McCallum did not back down, insisting the police force would be approved. On Aug. 2, the province gave the plan the green light.

Since then, Surrey has grappled with the cost of a new police force, with council adopting a budget that froze the hiring of new police officers and firefighters to save money.

Tensions boiled over at the last council meeting of the year, with dueling rallies for and against a new police force, drawing hundreds of people to City Hall. Despite the yelling that filled council chambers on Monday, Dec. 16, the mayor stood firmly behind one belief: Surrey is not divided.

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Canada manhunt

Cold and remorseless is how police describe two young men responsible for the summer-time murders of three people in northern B.C.

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were childhood friends from Port Alberni who sparked a nation-wide manhunt in mid-July.

RCMP quickly determined the pair killed UBC botanist Leonard Dyck and a couple on vacation — Chynna Deese of North Carolina and Lucas Fowler from New South Wales, Australia.

Before carrying out their suicide pact, the 19-year-old and 18-year-old killers never explained why they did it.

Their bodies were found in northern Manitoba near the Nelson River shoreline. Autopsies later confirmed McLeod shot Schmegelsky before turning the gun on himself.

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The impeachment of Donald Trump

Long ago, in an America quite different than the one we know today, the Framers feared the president — who had relatively few powers — could become the greatest threat to American liberty: a king. So they saw fit to make the president less like a regent by subjecting them to impeachment, should they commit high crimes or treason.

Fast forward to 2016, and not long after President Donald Trump spoke to the world for the first time as President of the United States of America, calls for his impeachment began in tiny corners.

The proverbial ball didn’t start rolling until a now infamous phone call, and an accusation from a whistleblower that President Trump had conditioned military aid to Ukraine on that country’s assistance in an investigation of the Biden family, in order to help his re-election bid.

On Dec. 18, after weeks of testimony and clashes, Trump was impeached on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Now, he joins the ranks of only two other U.S. presidents to face this process.

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