Year in review: A look at events in February 2020

A look at news events in February 2020:

01 – The new coronavirus global emergency sent markets tumbling as major airlines announced the suspension of flights to China. Tour companies and hotels in Western Canada reported seeing an increase in cancellations from Chinese tourists. A number of countries announced they were moving to bar entry to most people who may have visited China in the past two weeks. A World Health Organization official noted that while most cases reported so far had been people who visited China, human-to-human transmission was becoming more prevalent in cases abroad.

01 – Ontario’s Saugeen Ojibway Nation overwhelmingly rejected a proposed underground storage facility for nuclear waste near Lake Huron, likely bringing an end to the multibillion-dollar, politically fraught project that had been years in the making.

01 – Andy Gill, the guitarist for the iconic punk band Gang of Four, died at the age of 64.

01 – Mary Higgins Clark, the tireless and long-reigning “Queen of Suspense,” died of natural causes in Naples, Fla. She was 92.

02 – Philippine officials reported the first death outside of China linked to the novel coronavirus. The Philippines joined the U.S., Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia in placing a temporary ban on all travellers from China. Many countries also reported seeing rising anti-Chinese sentiment.

02 – Parts of Kenya reported their worst outbreak of locusts in 70 years, as billions of the insects descended on communities.

02 – Mathematicians and geeks everywhere celebrated a rare occurrence: 02/02/2020. This kind of eight-digit palindrome hasn’t occurred for more than 900 years — since Nov. 11, 1111. The date is considered a “universal palindrome” because it reads the same whether you write the date as “Month/Day/Year” or “Day/Month/Year.” The next one won’t come until Dec. 12, 2121.

02 – ”1917” was the big winner at the British Academy Film Awards. The gut-wrenching First World War epic won seven prizes, including best picture and best director.

03 – The Kansas City Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in 50 years, beating the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Miami. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez performed together at the halftime show.

03 – Chinese scientists published two papers outlining growing evidence that the new coronavirus likely originated in bats.

03 – Iran’s civilian government said it didn’t know for days that the Revolutionary Guard had shot down a Ukrainian airliner. Iranian civil aviation authorities for days insisted it wasn’t a missile that brought down the plane, even after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. officials began saying they believed it had been shot down. All 176 people on board Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 were killed, including 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents and dozens of others with connections to Canada.

03 – The federal government chartered two aircraft to get Canadians out of Wuhan, China.

03 – Calgary city councillors unanimously voted to ban conversion therapy, which aims to change someone’s sexual orientation through counselling or religion.

04 – The leadership race for the Green Party of Canada announced its official opening. It was the party’s first leadership contest since 2006, when Elizabeth May won on the first ballot. May stepped down following the October 2019 election.

04 – The European Union rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal, stating it breaks with internationally agreed parameters. The Palestinians and Arab Gulf states also rejected Trump’s plan.

04 – Four B.C. First Nations lost their court challenge of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed their challenge of the federal government’s second approval of the project.

04 – Dr. Francis Plummer, the former scientific director of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory, died after a battle with alcoholism. Plummer, 67, was cited in particular for his research into HIV.

04 – In his third state of the union address, U.S. President Donald Trump took credit for the new United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, insisting his use of tariffs against trade partners had worked. But the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the negotiations saw the U.S. treat partners as enemies, resulting in Canada — and other countries — focusing on diversifying away from the U.S.

05 – Japan quarantined the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was carrying more than 3,700 people — including 251 Canadians — after several people on board tested positive for the new coronavirus. The ship was ordered to remain under quarantine for 14 days in Yokohama.

05 – The U.S. Senate acquitted President Donald Trump on both impeachment charges against him. The vote against impeachment was never in doubt, since Republicans controlled the chamber. Mitt Romney made history by becoming the first senator in U.S. history to vote in favour of removing a president from his own party.

05 – Legendary actor Kirk Douglas, star of “Spartacus” and “Lust for Life,” died at 103.

06 – An International Space Station crew including NASA astronaut Christina Koch, who spent more time in space on a single mission than any other woman, landed safely in Kazakhstan. Koch wrapped up a 328-day mission on her first flight into space.

06 – The doctor who was reprimanded in late December by Chinese authorities for sounding an early warning about the coronavirus outbreak died of the illness. Dr. Li Wenliang was 34 years old. Meanwhile, a newborn discovered infected 36 hours after birth became the youngest known patient. Hospital officials in Wuhan said the mother had tested positive and the baby was separated from her immediately after birth.

07 – Two groups of Canadian evacuees from Wuhan, China, touched down on Canadian soil after severe weather and political meandering caused multiple delays. A flight carrying 176 passengers arrived at Ontario’s Canadian Forces Base Trenton after refuelling in Vancouver. About 50 more Canadians who arrived in Vancouver on an American chartered flight were told to disembark and board another plane that would take them to Trenton for a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Officials said some permanent residents and Chinese nationals with Canadian visas were allowed to escort 34 Canadian minors returning home.

07 – The federally owned company in charge of building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion said the project is now estimated to cost $12.6 billion — a 70 per cent jump from the estimate made three years ago by the previous owner, Kinder Morgan.

07 – Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri joined Justin Trudeau on a trip to Africa, as the prime minister tried to gain support for Canada’s bid for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. Ujiri said he was planning to travel to Africa to promote his foundation, which uses basketball to educate and enrich the lives of youth, and joined the trip on Trudeau’s invitation.

08 – China said the death toll associated with the new virus surpassed SARS fatalities in the 2002-03 outbreak. China reported the death toll rose to 811. The outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, killed 774 people — including 44 in Canada.

08 – Efforts by hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation to halt the Coastal GasLink LNG Canada pipeline prompted a national protest movement. The massive 670-kilometre project ran from Dawson Creek to Kitimat on B.C.’s northwest coast. Protesters in Ontario stopped railway traffic east of Toronto.

09 – The South Korean thriller “Parasite” broke barriers at the Oscars and became the first non-English movie to win best picture in the academy’s 92-year history. In total, the film won four Oscars, including best director for Bong Joon Ho, best original screenplay and best international feature film. Bong’s historic win also highlighted that no women were nominated in the best director category for the 87th time.

09 – Thailand’s prime minister said 27 people died, including the gunman, in the worst mass shooting in the country’s history. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said 57 people were wounded in the 16-hour rampage at a busy shopping mall.

10 – Researchers with the University of Calgary and Royal Tyrrell Museum said they’d identified the first new Canadian tyrannosaur species in 50 years. A paper published in the journal Cretaceous Research described the fearsome lizard — whose name means “reaper of death'” in Greek.

10 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Canadian military personnel in Kuwait. The Canadians were moved to Kuwait just hours before Iranian missiles were fired at two Iraqi airbases housing Canadian, American and some coalition soldiers.

10 – A U.S. sheriff’s deputy filed a lawsuit against the president of the Toronto Raptors. Alan Strickland said Masai Ujiri injured him at Oakland’s Oracle Arena when the two got into an alleged shoving match following the Raptors’ championship win.

10 – Canadian epidemiologist Bruce Aylward led a team of World Health Organization experts in China to study the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

11 – A second charter flight that was repatriating Canadians from Wuhan, China, landed at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in southern Ontario. There were 185 passengers on board the flight that left the epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak.

11 – The Queen’s eldest grandson and his Canadian wife announced their divorce after 12 years of marriage. Peter Phillips is Princess Anne’s son. He and his wife Autumn said their separation is sad but amicable, and they planned to share custody of their two daughters, aged seven and nine.

11 – The Toronto Raptors set a Canadian record with their 15th consecutive win, the longest single-season streak from a major Canadian-based professional team.

11 – The World Health Organization said the new coronavirus would be called COVID-19 to avoid stigmatizing any country, city, group of people or animal, that may be linked to it.

11 – U.S. President Donald Trump nominated Aldona Z. Wos, a North Carolina Republican, doctor and former diplomat, to be the ambassador to Canada. The post had been vacant since August when ambassador Kelly Craft left to become the U.S. representative to the United Nations.

11 – A primped and poised standard poodle, Siba, won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club, even with the crowd at Madison Square Garden chanting for Daniel, a popular golden retriever.

12 – Newspaper columnist Christie Blatchford died of cancer in a Toronto hospital at the age of 68. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remembered Blatchford as a relentless storyteller with a wicked sense of humour and said she will be missed.

12 – Two hereditary chiefs from the Wet’suwet’en First Nation launched a constitutional challenge against the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, in the hopes that the Federal Court would declare Canada has a constitutional duty to meet international greenhouse gas emission targets.

12 – The Assembly of First Nations filed a federal class-action lawsuit seeking damages for thousands of children and their families affected by federal child-welfare policies on reserves. AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde asserted that Canada’s child-welfare system discriminated against First Nations kids, causing them and their families harm and suffering.

13 – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Iraq agreed to allow it to resume military training activities, clearing the way for Canadian soldiers to leave Kuwait and restart their mission. The Canadian-led training mission was suspended after a U.S. drone strike killed Iran’s top general at Baghdad’s airport.

13 – Anti-pipeline blockades forced CN Rail to shut down its entire network in Eastern Canada. Via Rail also cancelled passenger service across the country.

14 – Ten women filed a class-action lawsuit against Canadian clothing mogul Peter Nygard, alleging he lured young women under false pretences of modelling opportunities to his mansion in the Bahamas, then drugged and sexually assaulted them. A lawyer representing Nygard said the lawsuit contains nothing but false allegations.

14 – Following consultations with Inuit leaders and people in the Northwest Territories, the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos made the decision to keep their team name.

14 – Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said anti-pipeline protesters blockading vital rail lines should “check their privilege” and let people do their jobs. Scheer called the protests illegal and referred to activists who “have the luxury of spending days at a time at a blockade.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said disruptions must be resolved through dialogue, not by ordering in the police.

15 – U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper announced a truce agreement between the United States and the Taliban, saying it could lead to the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

16 – Tony Fernandez, former shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays, died at 57. Fernandez, a five-time all-star and winner of the 1993 World Series, battled kidney problems for several years.

16 – New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs announced his government’s decision to back down on a plan for overnight closures at six community hospital emergency rooms. The announcement followed deputy premier Robert Gauvin’s decision to quit in protest and sit as an Independent.

16 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled his trip to Barbados to deal with rail disruptions caused by protests against a multibillion-dollar pipeline project that crosses First Nations territory in northern B.C.

17 – Bombardier reached an $8.2-billion deal to sell its train division to French rail giant Alstom.

17 – Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier announced his resignation. Dwight Ball said he asked the president of the provincial Liberal party to convene a leadership process to choose a successor at the earliest opportunity. Ball said he would stay on as premier until a new leader is chosen, and that he would continue to represent the Humber-Gros Morne district in the legislature until the next provincial election.

18 – The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection amid an avalanche of new sex-abuse lawsuits.

18 – Canadian National Railway announced temporary layoffs for about 450 workers at its operations in Eastern Canada due to blockades. CN said the layoffs affected operational staff, calling the situation “regrettable.”

18 – The NDP government of B.C. introduced its 2020 budget with millions set aside for public schools, post-secondary education, health care and climate action.

19 – Canadian freestyle moguls team member Brayden Kuroda of Penticton, B.C., died suddenly at the age of 19. Freestyle Canada did not release a cause of death, but CEO Peter Judge called it an “immeasurable loss.”

19 – The Ontario government asked 3M Canada to investigate complaints that the province’s new licence plates are virtually unreadable at night.

19 – A 43-year-old man killed nine people in racially motivated shootings at two shisha bars in the German town of Hanau, then killed his mother and himself. According to police, the attacker left rambling texts and videos in which he espoused racist views, called for genocide and claimed to have been under surveillance since birth.

21 – The road circling the Ontario legislature was shut down for a mass protest by thousands of teachers. The protest marked the first time since 1997 that teachers and education workers from all the major unions staged a walkout on the same day. The province passed legislation last year capping wage hikes for all public sector workers at one per cent for three years.

21 – Canadian passengers who spent weeks stuck in their cabins aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship arrived in Cornwall, Ont. They were flown out of Japan overnight, then bused to a NAV Canada centre to be quarantined for 14 days. Forty-seven Canadians remained in Japan for treatment after they tested positive for the coronavirus.

21 – Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, abandoned plans to use the “SussexRoyal” brand after they stepped back from royal duties. Their office said the couple will no longer seek to trademark the term, because of U.K. rules governing use of the word “royal.”

22 – Afghanistan passed a grim milestone in the long-running war. A United Nations report said more than 100,000 civilians had been killed or hurt in the 10 years since the agency began documenting casualties in Afghanistan. The report came at the same time a seven-day “reduction of violence” agreement between the U.S. and Taliban took effect.

22 – The charity founded by Canadian Catholic figure Jean Vanier condemned his alleged sexual abuse of six women. A report released by L’Arche International after an internal investigation said Vanier engaged in sexual relations with the women as they were seeking spiritual direction. Vanier died last year at the age of 90.

22 – David Ayres, a 42-year-old emergency backup goalie and full-time Zamboni driver, helped the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3. Ayers, who hails from Whitby, Ont., was called into action after Hurricanes netminders James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were injured. The ex-junior goalie made eight saves.

22 – Bernie Sanders cemented his apparent status as the Democrats’ national front-runner for the U.S. presidential nomination after a resounding victory in Nevada’s caucuses. Former vice-president Joe Biden took second place, but told supporters in Las Vegas that he was going to win the nomination.

23 – The CBC series “Schitt’s Creek” and “Anne with an E” were the top winners at the ACTRA Awards. “Schitt’s Creek” took the Members’ Choice Series Ensemble Award for a second straight year at the annual gala put on by Canada’s performers union in Toronto. Dalmar Abuzeid won a trophy for outstanding performance by a male for playing a Trinidadian sailor on “Anne with an E,” while Cara Ricketts won outstanding performance by a female for playing the sailor’s wife.

23 – The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said it stopped allowing employees to use the video app TikTok, after the Senate’s top Democrat raised concerns about potential national security issues with the China-owned app.

23 – Teck Resources announced the cancellation of its oilsands project in northern Alberta, over what the company called the political discourse over climate change.

24 – South Korea became a smaller epicentre of COVID-19 a day after the country’s president called for unprecedented steps to combat the outbreak. Italy also became a focal point of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Europe, with police manning checkpoints around quarantined towns in the north and residents stocking up on food.

24 – Ontario Provincial Police cleared a rail blockade on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, after protesters ignored a midnight deadline to clear the blockade. The removal process remained largely non-violent, but several people were arrested and taken away in a police van.

24 – A Manhattan jury convicted movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of rape, but not of the most serious charge he was facing of predatory sexual assault. The jury’s decision followed weeks of often harrowing and excruciatingly graphic testimony from a string of women and was seen as a long-overdue reckoning for Weinstein after years of whispers about his behaviour.

24 – Police in Germany said 35 people, including 18 children, were admitted to a hospital after a driver plowed into a crowd celebrating Carnival. Local media said the 29-year-old man behind the wheel was also injured in the incident.

24 – The federal carbon tax was struck down as unconstitutional by Alberta’s Appeal Court, which said legislation that brought in the tax eroded provincial jurisdiction. Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the government would await a Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the matter.

24 – The federal government introduced legislation aimed at making it easier for suffering Canadians to get medical help to end their lives. Justice Minister David Lametti said the bill would scrap a provision in the law that allows only those already near death to receive medical assistance in dying. The Superior Court of Quebec had previously ruled it was unconstitutional for the federal law to restrict eligibility to those whose natural death is “reasonably foreseeable.”

25 – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, ousted in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, died at 91.

25 – Canadians and their family members flown home from Wuhan, China, were released from quarantine. They spent that time at CFB Trenton, Ont., being monitored for any symptoms of the new coronavirus. Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the evacuees do not pose a risk of transmitting the disease when they return to their homes. Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne advised Canadians planning trips overseas to check his department’s travel advisories before booking, calling the outbreak a very dynamic situation.

25 – Dr. Bruce Aylward said the world isn’t ready for a new coronavirus outbreak. Aylward returned to Geneva after leading a team of experts to China to study the virus for the World Health Organization. He urged other countries to get ready for a potential outbreak within their own borders as soon as possible, warning the spread of the virus seemed inevitable.

25 – Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard announced he has stepped down as chairman of his company following a FBI raid on his New York headquarters on suspicion of sex trafficking. Nygard has denied the allegations.

26 – Maria Sharapova retired from professional tennis. The 32-year-old Russian, who moved to Florida as a child, burst onto the tennis scene at 17 when she won Wimbledon in 2004 by upsetting Serena Williams in the final.

26 – Million-selling novelist Clive Cussler died at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., at the age of 88.

26 – The World Health Organization said the number of new coronavirus cases reported outside China had exceeded the number of new cases in China for the first time.

27 – Japan announced the closure of schools countrywide to help control the spread of the new coronavirus. Ontario announced its sixth confirmed case, also marking the province’s first instance of human-to-human transmission. Quebec reported its first presumptive case of the virus in a woman from the Montreal region who had just returned home from travelling to Iran.

27 – Saudi Arabia closed off the holiest sites in Islam to foreign pilgrims due to the coronavirus. The decision disrupted travel for thousands of Muslims headed to the kingdom and was expected to affect millions more ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan and the hajj pilgrimage. Such a move wasn’t even taken during the 1918 flu epidemic that killed tens of millions of people.

27 – The Senate voted to suspend Sen. Lynn Beyak for a second time over derogatory letters about Indigenous Peoples posted on her website. Senators approved a report from the upper chamber’s ethics committee that recommended Beyak be suspended without pay for the duration of the current parliamentary session. The Ontario senator was kicked out of the Conservative caucus and eventually suspended without pay last May after refusing to remove the offensive letters from her website.

28 – The World Health Organization raised the risk assessment of COVID-19 to “very high” at the global level. Organizations across Canada cancelled conferences and events for fears of spreading the virus.

28 – The french fry master of downtown Halifax, “Bud the Spud,” died at the age of 77. Leonard True, known as “Bud,” started his food truck in 1977.

29 – The man who created the popular Trader Joe’s markets in the U.S. died at age 89. Joe Coulombe opened the first of his quirky, nautically themed markets in Pasadena, Calif., in 1967. Trader Joe’s now has more than 500 stores in over 40 states.

29 – The United States reported new COVID-19 cases not associated with travelling abroad or obvious contact with an ill individual. The U.S. also reported the country’s first death from COVID-19. President Donald Trump said “there’s no reason to panic at all” about the virus.

29 – The United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan, America’s longest.

29 – An Alberta-based humanitarian organization said 15 of its people — 13 Canadians among them — were detained in Ethiopia. Canadian Humanitarian said the group includes 10 Canadian volunteers, three Canadian staff members and two Ethiopian staff members. The non-governmental organization based in Medicine Hat said they were accused of practising medicine without permission and dispensing expired medication.

29 – Former U.S. vice-president Joe Biden won South Carolina’s Democratic primary, riding a wave of African-American support to end Bernie Sanders’ winning streak and offer badly needed momentum for Biden’s White House bid.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 15, 2020.