A year to remember -- and that's not good
Mother Raquel Barbosa poses holding her twin daughters Eloisa (L) and Eloa, both 8 months old and both born with microcephaly, on Christmas day during a celebration at the twin's grandparent's home on December 25, 2016 in Areia, Paraiba state, Brazil. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
It is with a sigh of relief that we bid farewell to 2016, a year memorable for its bleakness.
It started off on a worrisome note, with suspicions (later confirmed) that the previously innocuous Zika virus was causing devastating harm to babies in Brazil whose mothers contracted it while pregnant. It wound down with a Russian diplomat being assassinated on camera in Turkey and a terrorist ramming a truck through a crowded Christmas market in Berlin.
Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Harper Lee, Shimon Peres, Gordie Howe and Leonard Cohen are among the luminaries who left us.
Sure, 2016 had its positives. The performance of Canadian women at the Rio Olympics was inspirational. And the ordinary Canadians who welcomed some 35,000 Syrian refugees within the last year or so merit special mention.
But events around the globe have left us rattled and uncertain. Was 2016 an aberration, or is the existing world order giving way to something unsettling?
There was the Brexit referendum, where British voters rejected the recommendations of mainstream politicians and decided to leave the European Union.
During the U.S. election, outright lies, boasting about sexual assault, threats to jail his rival and denial of basic political orthodoxies didn't prevent Donald Trump from winning the presidency. His candidacy might also have had help from unlikely sources: the director of the FBI and Russia. It's no wonder Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year was "post-truth," defined as "circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."
Russia helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces recapture rebel-held parts of Aleppo. Civilians were slaughtered or left to die in the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the early 21st century.
While Canadians can be grateful we live in peace, the year's international events hold significant concerns for this country. Canada's trade and defence relationships with our biggest partner have been thrown into question with Trump's election as has the Paris Accord on climate change.
Canada has the potential to be a beacon of hope in a darkening world. This country has remained a supporter of international trade while some others are turning to protectionism. And it has continued to welcome newcomers while some others are blaming immigrants for their problems.
The year gone by was one to remember for all the wrong reasons; bring on 2017.