A look at news events in December 2023:
1 –Israel's war with Hamas resumed in full force with the renewed hostilities highlighting concerns for about 140 hostages still held captive by Hamas and other militants. More than 100 were freed during the seven-day truce and Israeli officials said today their troops found the bodies of four more hostages in Gaza, bringing the total known dead to seven. Qatar, which has served as a mediator along with Egypt, says its negotiators are still trying for a deal to restore the ceasefire. Israel dropped leaflets over Gaza City and southern parts of the enclave, urging civilians to flee to avoid the fighting.
2 – The Canadian Security Intelligence Service launched a workplace assessment of its B.C. office. It comes after whistleblowers accused a senior officer of sexual assault and harassment. CSIS director David Vigneault says the officer in question has been removed from the workplace. He adds accusations of a "toxic workplace" cannot be taken lightly, and a Workplace Climate Assessment had been launched.
2 – A former MP who boasts that she gets under the skin of Ontario Premier Doug Ford is the province's new Liberal leader. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie was declared the new leader today at an Ontario Liberal leadership convention after three rounds of ballot-counting. The next Ontario election is in 2026.
2 – A 45-year-old man has been arrested in Morocco after an international investigation into a series of bomb threats made against targets across Canada and other countries. Quebec police say they've identified 50 such cases in the province where schools, businesses, offices, governments and media outlets were targeted in a mass emailing of bomb threats demanding money in exchange for the location of explosives. The incidents happened between Oct. 18 and Nov. 27.
3 – The award-winning Canadian singer and songwriter who shot to stardom as the former lead singer of April Wine has died. Myles Goodwyn was 75. His publicist Eric Alper says Goodwyn died in Halifax, though no cause of death was announced. April Wine formed in Halifax in 1969 and went on to sell more than 10 million recordings worldwide. Alper says Goodwyn stepped away from the band earlier this year but continued to perform live until not long before his death.
3 – Global Affairs Canada says a Canadian citizen has died in Lebanon. The department gave no further details in an update on Sunday, but the death is linked to the Israel-Hamas war. One Canadian remains missing but has not yet been identified by Global Affairs. This comes as Israel's military confirmed Sunday its ground offensive has expanded to every part of Gaza. Meanwhile Global Affairs confirms 130 Canadians left Gaza this weekend via the Rafah border crossing into Egypt after it reopened to foreign nationals.
4 – An eighth Canadian citizen has died in the Middle East war. Global Affairs Canada gave no further details in its update beyond that the death happened in Lebanon, and is linked to the nearly two-month-old Israel-Hamas war. Seven Canadians and a person with deep connections to Canada were killed in the initial Hamas-led attack in Israel Oct. 7 and one Canadian remains missing.
4 – "Rizz" has beaten out "Swiftie" as the Oxford University Press word of the year. The Gen Z term is thought to come from the middle syllable of charisma and is used to describe someone's ability to attract or seduce another person. It can also be used as a verb, as in to "rizz up,'' or chat someone up.
4 – The CBC says budget pressures have led to hundreds of layoffs and programming changes. CBC and Radio-Canada will cut about 600 jobs and an additional 200 vacancies will go unfilled. As the public broadcaster deals with $125 million in budget pressures, the cuts will also impact both English and French programming. It cites rising production costs, lower revenue from TV advertising and competition from digital giants.
5 – Statistics Canada is reporting 3.5 per cent of Canadian Armed Forces members say they were sexually assaulted by another member of the military last year. That's significantly higher than the 1.6 per cent figure in a 2018 survey. Its latest survey finds the victims were likely to be female. There were a disproportionate number of assaults on younger personnel, Indigenous members, those with disabilities or those who identified as members of the LGBTQ+ community. Most Armed Forces members who say they were assaulted did not report it to authorities, in many cases because they did not think it would make a difference.
5 – Canada's financial intelligence agency has levied the largest fine in its history against the Royal Bank. Fintrac says the $7.4-million penalty is being imposed for non-compliance with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing measures. It says the bank failed to submit 16 suspicious transaction reports.
5 – Health Canada has authorized an updated COVID-19 vaccine from Novavax that targets the XBB1.5 variant. The new vaccine is called Nuvaxovid and is approved for people 12 years of age and over.
5 – Denny Laine, a British singer, songwriter and guitarist who performed in an early, pop-oriented version of the Moody Blues and was later Paul McCartney's longtime sideman in the ex-Beatle's solo band Wings, has died at the age of 79.
5 – Hollywood's actors have voted to ratify the deal with studios that ends their strike after nearly four months. The approval of the three-year contract from the members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists was no certainty, with some prominent members voicing dissent on the deal for which the union leaders bargained. The 78-per-cent "yes" result has officially ended Hollywood labour's most tumultuous year in half a century.
6 – The writer, director and producer who brought us the hit TV shows "All in the Family" and "Maude" has died. Norman Lear was 101. Lear brought political and social turmoil into the once-insulated world of sitcoms, introducing racism, feminism and the Vietnam War into his shows, which helped define prime-time comedy starting in the 1970s. In 1984, he became one of the first seven people inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame.
6 – The Bank of Canada has done as economists expected and kept its key interest rate steady at five per cent. The bank's governors say they are encouraged by evidence that higher rates are restraining spending and helping bring inflation down. Inflation has eased considerably over the last year, dipping to 3.1 per cent in October.
6 – Time magazine has named Taylor Swift its person of the year from a group of nine finalists that also included Barbie, King Charles and Open AI chief executive Sam Altman. Time says this is the year the 33-year-old singer "achieved a kind of nuclear fusion: shooting art and commerce together to release an energy of historic force.''
7 – The federal government's new oil and gas cap policy will see the industry cut emissions by more than one-third by 2030. If companies don't meet the requirement, they will have to buy offset credits or contribute to a decarbonization fund that would lower that amount to cutting just 20 to 23 per cent. Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says the plan was developed after extensive consultation with industry and other stakeholders to make sure it is achievable and won't risk losing to a constitutional challenge from provinces over jurisdiction.
7 – The Assembly of First Nations regional chief is now the organization's new national chief. Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations vice-chief David Pratt conceded to Cindy Woodhouse before the contest went to a seventh ballot at the special assembly meeting in Ottawa. The final ballot last night ended with Woodhouse capturing 50.8 per cent of the votes to Pratt's 39.3 per cent. The winner needed 60 per cent support.
7 – R.J. Simpson will be the next premier of the Northwest Territories. He won on the second round of voting by newly elected members of the territory's legislature. Simpson was first elected to the legislature back in 2015, and had worked with the federal government, Northern Transportation Company, Metis Nation Local 51 and Maskwa Engineering. He replaces former premier Caroline Cochrane, who announced in September she wasn't running for re-election.
7 – Israel has designated a small slice of mostly undeveloped land along Gaza's Mediterranean coast as a safe zone for the 1.87 million displaced Palestinians seeking protection from Israeli airstrikes. But the United Nations and relief groups say Muwasi is a poorly planned attempt to impose a solution for Palestinians and offers no guarantee of safety in the territory. It comes as distribution of food, water and medicine has been prevented outside a sliver of southern Gaza. The territory's Health Ministry says more than 17,100 Palestinians have died and more than 46,000 others have been wounded since the Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7.
8 – A massive weeklong strike begins today among unions representing 420,000 Quebec public sector workers. The workers hitting the bricks include teachers, education support staff and lab technicians who are members of a group of unions calling itself the "common front.'' The temporary strike comes after the common front rejected the government's most recent contract offer and salary increase of 12.7 per cent over five years. About 66,000 teachers who are members of a different union have been on strike since Nov. 23.
8 – A voting session in the House of Commons that started on Thursday is finally over. The Conservatives had forced voting on scores of spending measures, saying they wouldn't let up unless the Liberal government removed federal carbon pricing from applying to all home heating, farmers and First Nations. By the time voting ended late Friday, MPs had been at it for well over 24 hours, with many staying awake overnight with the help of books, fast food and caffeine. When it was all over, relieved MPs rushed out the door and the House was adjourned until Monday.
8 – The Israeli military says it found weapons and a one-kilometre-long tunnel under the campus of Al-Azhar University in Gaza. It did not provide video or photo evidence of the tunnel, but released photos of weapons it said soldiers found at the university, including explosives and rocket parts. Israel says its discoveries show that Hamas is embedded in civilian zones – a claim central to its justification for heavily striking civilian areas in Gaza and calling for mass evacuations. It says Hamas uses an extensive tunnel network running underneath civilian infrastructure such as schools and hospitals to conduct military operations.
8 – The United States has vetoed a UN resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13 to one, with the United Kingdom abstaining. U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood criticized the council after the vote for its failure to condemn Hamas' attacks in Israel. He declared that halting military action would allow Hamas to continue to rule and "only plant the seeds for the next war.''
8 – Actor Ryan O'Neal has died at age 82. His family confirmed he died today, but no cause was given. O'Neal was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012. He was nominated for an Oscar for the tear-jerker "Love Story" and played opposite his daughter Tatum in "Paper Moon."
8 – Ibrahim Ali has been found guilty of first-degree murder for the death a 13-year-old girl whose body was found in a Burnaby, B.C., park more than six years ago. The British Columbia Supreme Court jury came back with its decision minutes after asking the judge to clarify the differences between first- and second-degree murder and manslaughter. Ali had little reaction to the verdict and the packed courtroom was quiet as the verdict was read out.
9 - The board of New Brunswick's Universite de Moncton has decided not to change the school's name. The decision follows the release of a university-commissioned report that outlined colonial British officer Robert Monckton's participation in the deportation of French-speaking Acadians from Eastern Canada.
9 - An independent review into a prescribed fire in Banff National Park that led to evacuations near the popular tourist town has made a series of recommendations to try to prevent it from happening again. The review, released by Parks Canada this week, was ordered by the federal agency after the May 2023 fire northeast of Banff went out of control due to a shift in wind direction and speed.
9 - A group of Middle Eastern foreign ministers were in Ottawa today to speak on behalf of Arab and Muslim people as Israel continues its assault on Gaza in response to the October 7th Hamas attack. The leaders from the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and Turkey met with Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to talk about the Israel-Hamas war.
9 - Coveted free agent Shohei Ohtani agreed to a record US$700-million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers following six seasons with the Angels.
9 - The long and tedious voting session in the House of Commons, that started on Dec. 7 finally came to a close. The federal Conservatives forced voting on scores of spending measures with the goal of making the Liberals cut the carbon tax on all home heating, farmers and First Nations. By the time voting ended, MPs had been awake overnight with the help of books, fast food and caffeine. The government spending bill still passed -- despite the best efforts from Pierre Poilievre's Conservatives -- just a day later than originally expected.
12 - Emmy-winning actor Andre Braugher, best known for his roles on the series "Homicide: Life on The Street'' and "Brooklyn 9-9,'' has died of lung cancer, according to his publicist.
12 - The U-N General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to demand a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, in a strong demonstration of global support for ending the Israel-Hamas war. Canada voted in favour of the non-binding resolution.
13 - Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault is hailing what he calls a "monumental'' deal to close out COP-28. It's the first time the United Nations climate summit of nearly 200 countries agreed to transition away from fossil fuels. The 21-page agreement calls on countries to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, "accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050."
13 - Transport Canada says around 193-thousand cars in Canada will be affected by a Tesla recall over the autopilot function. It says Tesla will provide an over-the-air software update to fix the advanced driver assistance features.
14 - A government bill has been passed in Ottawa that solidifies restrictions on handguns, raises penalties for firearm trafficking and aims to curb homemade ghost guns. The bill ushers in new measures to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers and increases maximum penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking to 14 years from 10.
14 - Tim Hortons and Telus are reinstating their support for Hockey Canada, after pulling their backing last year when the organization was accused of mishandling sexual assault complaints. Tims says it is reinstating its support because it appears Hockey Canada has made substantial progress toward regaining Canadians' confidence. Telus says it wanted to support changes that make the sport safe and inclusive both on and off the ice.
15 - Economic outlook was part of the full agenda for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and her provincial and territorial counterparts as they gathered for an annual meeting in Toronto. Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem told the meeting he expects 2024 to be a transition year as higher interest rates slow down the economy -- making way for lower inflation.
15 - Mayim Bialik says she won't be hosting the quiz show "Jeopardy!" anymore. The "Big Bang Theory'' actor split hosting duties with former show champion Ken Jennings but in May declared her support for the Hollywood writers' strike and declined to appear on the game show. Bialik says show producer Sony Pictures Television informed her that she will no longer be hosting the syndicated version.
15 - The House of Commons is taking a break for the winter, with M-Ps returning to their ridings for a six-week holiday break.