As Albertans brush up on the lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne” and prepare to bid adieu to 2022, it is the perfect time to reflect on all that has unfolded in the past year.
Here’s a look at the top stories from Alberta on http://www.globalnews.ca in 2022, beginning with a Top 5 list of the online articles that readers viewed the most, and followed by a Top 5 list of articles for which an argument could be made that they were among the most notable or memorable stories in the province in the past year.
(You can click on the text highlighted in red for more information on each story)
Winter weather, poor road conditions lead to several crashes on Alberta’s QEII Highway
Travellers on Alberta’s busiest highway were faced with treacherous wintry driving conditions on Nov. 5.
On a stretch of Highway 2 north of Ponoka that day, emergency crews were called to several multi-vehicle collisions.
The Town of Ponoka helped stranded travellers by providing shuttle buses to bring them to the Calnash Ag Event Centre until the crash scenes could be cleared up and the highway could reopen.
At the time, the RCMP said there were more than 50 vehicles involved in collisions on a stretch of highway north of Ponoka alone. Police said only minor injuries were reported.
Calgary car buyer battles Jaguar after new vehicle needs multiple repairs
Earlier this year, Global News shared the story of a Calgary woman warning others after she was involved in a two-year battle with a luxury auto manufacturer.
For her 40th birthday, the woman decided to buy her first luxury vehicle but said her excitement turned to disappointment soon after bringing the vehicle home.
She said she had to bring her vehicle back to the dealership multiple times for repairs. The woman said she did not feel the car dealership dealt with her situation properly and noted it seemed to be in the repair shop for about equal the amount of time that she was able to drive it.
“I’ve just had it just over two years and I would say I had my car for a year — off and on,” she said.
Alberta ending vaccine passport program and other COVID-19 public health restrictions
On Feb. 8, then-Alberta premier Jason Kenney announced the province’s COVID-19 vaccine passport program would no longer be in effect as of midnight on Feb. 9.
Kenney, who had faced intense criticism from some Albertans — including members of his own United Conservative caucus — over the passport program and other policies related to the pandemic, also announced that virtually all public health restrictions related to the health crisis would be lifted by March 1 if the situation in hospitals continued to improve.
At a news conference, Kenney said while the province’s restrictions exemption program served its purpose of increasing vaccination rates, it was no longer an effective tool for doing so and no longer needed, especially with so many vaccinated people contracting the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Canadian seniors face delays in getting tax slips due to federal error
In March, Global News reported that tens of thousands of seniors in Canada had yet to be able to file their tax returns because their federal slip had not arrived. Several seniors told Global News they feared the delay would result in them temporarily not being able to access certain benefits.
In a statement to Global News, Employment and Social Development Canada said the delay was the result of an administrative error and added it was addressing the mistake.
“There will be no impact as individuals have until May 2, 2022 to file,” officials said.
Enoch Cree Nation’s Ashley Callingbull named in-game co-host for Edmonton Elks
No online story from Alberta in 2022 had more readers click on it than a post published in March about a woman from Enoch Cree Nation becoming the first Indigenous model to be featured in a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
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“I got the call at 6 a.m. I was still in bed. I couldn’t believe it,” Ashley Callingbull said as she recalled learning she would be featured in the magazine. “I thought I was actually dreaming… I just started crying.
“And then finding out I’m the first Plains Cree First Nations woman — wow. It’s just still so surreal to me. I’m still in shock. I’m just so proud.”
Callingbull, who began modelling when she was 18, said she was proud to be able to play a role in helping Indigenous people break barriers and have a presence in spheres where they previously did not.
“Me, just standing here strong, as an Indigenous woman in a space where no one has been before, it’s monumental,” she said.
“Being the first is great, but knowing that I’m not the last is the most important thing for me.”
Five of the most notable stories from Alberta in 2022
5) Oilers and Flames face each other in NHL playoffs for first time in more than 30 years
Hockey fans may see mental health benefits from embracing Battle of Alberta
For the first time since the early 1990s, the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames faced off against one another for an NHL playoff series in the spring of 2022.
The playoff edition of the Battle of Alberta thrilled hardcore hockey fans but also pulled in the keen attention of Albertans normally less drawn to the sport as they cheered for their local teams.
While it was a closely-fought best-of-seven series, the Oilers emerged victorious, taking the series in five games and advancing to the NHL Western Conference Final.
4) Alberta’s oil sector surges once again
Alberta ends 2021-22 fiscal year with $3.9B surplus
Alberta’s oil sector, which had seen significant challenges since oil prices dramatically plunged in 2014 and 2015, was once again booming in 2022.
Many market analysts suggested Russia’s war in Ukraine and energy supply fears were significant factors in driving oil prices higher.
In October, the chief economist at Credit Union Central Alberta noted about $12 billion worth of oil was being produced each month in the province.
“To give a comparison, in 2014, the maximum we reached was $7.7 billion, so it’s a big increase,” Charles St-Arnaud said.
The impact of the oil boom was underscored in June when then-finance minister Jason Nixon announced that the final number on the 2021-22 fiscal year, which ended on March 31, was a $3.9-billion surplus, thanks in large part to resource royalties.
The announcement represented a stunning turnaround from the $18.2-billion deficit that was forecast when the provincial budget was introduced in February 2021.
“We’re entering into a different type of fiscal conversation in our province than we’ve had over the last several years,” Nixon said.
3) Pope Francis comes to Alberta and apologizes for ‘evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples’
‘I am deeply sorry’: Pope Francis apologizes to Indigenous leaders, residential school survivors during historic Canada visit
In late July, Pope Francis arrived for a visit to Canada and began his trip in Alberta. At an event in Maskwacis, Alta., on July 25, he extended an apology for Christians’ role in Canada’s residential school system in front of a crowd that included residential school survivors and Indigenous elders.
“In the face of this deplorable evil, the church kneels before God and implores his forgiveness for the sins of her children. I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,” Pope Francis said Monday through a translator at the community’s powwow grounds.
From the 1870s until 1996, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were placed in residential schools across the country, often against their parents’ will. They were forbidden from speaking their language or maintaining their culture. Many were subjected to abuse of all kinds, and the schools saw high mortality rates.
Many children at the schools died of smallpox, measles, influenza and tuberculosis and in many cases a cause of death was never identified. Some were buried in unmarked graves in school cemeteries while others were listed as missing. In some instances, parents never found out what happened to their children.
2) Protest blockade disrupts Canada-U.S. border at Coutts
Alberta border protest blockade clears after police seize weapons
In late January, a number of Canadian cities and border crossings were descended upon by demonstrators for a series of protests and blockades voicing opposition to public health measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other grievances.
One of those protest blockades was at the Canada-United States border crossing at Coutts, Alta. It lasted almost three weeks and resulted in a wide range of charges being laid in connection with the event. Charges ranged from mischief to conspiracy to commit murder.
1) Danielle Smith replaces Jason Kenney as premier of Alberta
Danielle Smith’s path to the Alberta premier’s office
One-time radio talk show host and former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith completed a remarkable political comeback in October when she won the United Conservative Party’s leadership race, paving the way for her to become the premier of Alberta.
The leadership contest came about as the result of then-premier Jason Kenney announcing he would be stepping down from his post after narrowly winning approval in a leadership review vote. Kenney’s departure saw him become the latest conservative Alberta premier to leave before completing his term in office. The last conservative premier to complete a full term was Ralph Klein.
Kenney had faced criticism from some UCP members, including members of his own caucus, for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. They argued many of Alberta’s public health measures unjustly infringed on personal freedoms. Others criticized him for not sufficiently standing up for Alberta regarding a number of grievances related to federal policies.
Smith campaigned on promises to bring in legislation that would provide the provincial government with a new tool to oppose federal policies that it deems to be harmful to Alberta’s interests, to prevent what she described as discrimination against Albertans who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to bring in a new approach to handling the ongoing pandemic.