Happy New Year: Stories of 2012

Happy New Year friends!

Best wishes for 2013. Here’s a look back over some of my key stories of the last year, based on mostly subjective criteria.

Whether it’s being the first reporter to crunch the election robocalls numbers for the tightest Tory majority races, or breaking scoops like the Organization of American States opening an investigation into Canada’s missing women or Health Canada finally approving trials with the illicit drug Ecstasy for post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s been a busy, busy year.

There’s been some inspiring impacts and developments:

  • Refugee journalist Karla Lottini won her fight against deportation from Canada to Mexico after media coverage and community pressure.
  • Long-time Downtown Eastside street nurse Bonnie Fournier was allowed to testify at the missing women inquiry after I wrote about her story.
  • Elections Canada admitted it’s had reported fraudulent and misleading robocalls in nearly three-quarters of the country’s electoral districts, despite initially only investigating Guelph and “Pierre Poutine.”
  • CBC and Huffington Post both picked up my story about US Republican campaigners helping Tories in Ontario during the last federal election.

JANUARY 2012 — Exclusive interview (Lottini’s anti-deportation campaign won)

Mexican whistleblower Karla Lottini fights corruption, death threats and deportation
THE VANCOUVER OBSERVER  ‘Echar raíces’ – to put down roots. That’s exactly what a threatened Mexican journalist did since fleeing to Surrey with her family. In this VO exclusive, Karla Berenice García Ramírez — pen name Lottini –tells the story of her fight to stay.View article >
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FEBRUARY — Co-winning entry, Canadian Journalism Foundation award for Excellence in Journalism. Exclusive breaking news story

Missing Women Inquiry: Ex-Pickton worker echoes lawyer allegations of police cover-upTHE VANCOUVER OBSERVER  Prompted to remember serial killer Robert Pickton’s pig farm, Bill Hiscox pauses only for a second, adjusting his blue baseball cap, before he calmly describes his time as Pickton’s employee and his stilted efforts to become a police informant.View article >
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FEBRUARY — News investigation

Robocall scandal by the numbers: 200 ridings allege election fraud

VANCOUVER OBSERVER — Opposition vote-stealing allegations are unproven, but misleading election phone calls are now reported in up to 200 ridings – some of them razor-thin Conservative wins as low as 18 votes. VO crunches the numbers to bring you 11 “Tory majority” fraud-call ridings to watch.View article >
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FEBRUARY — Exclusive interview

National Geographic explorer Wade Davis on Enbridge, First Nations and mining

THE VANCOUVER OBSERVER — Speaking out on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and mining near his home, the author of Sacred Headwaters spoke with VO on nature, industry and First Nations.View article >


Lawyer resigns from B.C. inquiry into missing women

TORONTO STAR — Lawyer Robyn Gervais resigns from Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. Photograph published print and online in Canada’s largest daily newspaper.View photo > 
VANCOUVER OBSERVER — Families of missing and murdered women wept at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry this morning as lawyer Robyn Gervais officially handed in her resignation – the latest in a string of boycotts and criticisms of the hearings.View article >
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APRIL — Exclusive breaking news investigation

Tories May Have Broken 2011 Election Rules With US Republican Campaigners In Ontario

HUFFINGTON POST / THE VANCOUVER OBSERVER — In at least two Conservative-won ridings with reported election irregularities, Front Porch Strategies had US staff on the ground — possibly against Elections Canada rules barring foreign campaigning.View article >

MAY — News investigation

Mistrust, Frustration Deepen as Police Spying on Pipeline Critics Comes to Light

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY MEDIA NETWORK — Aboriginal leaders are outraged after secret documents revealed that police have been keeping tabs on critics of Enbridge Corp.’s Northern Gateway pipeline.View article >

MAY — Exclusive breaking news story

Organization of American States Joins International Scrutiny of Canada’s Missing Aboriginal Women

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY MEDIA NETWORK — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is scrutinizing the disappearance of more than 600 aboriginal women in Canada, only months after the United Nations announced its own investigation.View article >
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JUNE — Arts & culture investigation

Vancouver’s arts and culture bleeding out in “steady migration,” warn city creatives

THE VANCOUVER OBSERVER — As property values skyrocket higher than any other city in the country (second place worldwide), Vancouver’s artists are facing stark choices about their future.View article >
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JUNE — News investigation — Vancouver Observer top-read story of 2011

Harper v. Canada: 2011 election scandal brings scrutiny to PM’s controversial past

THE VANCOUVER OBSERVER — As Elections Canada investigates who is behind tens of thousands of illegal phone calls in the “robocall scandal” – calls reported to have targeted non-Conservative voters in two-thirds of the country’s ridings – Harper’s repeated court challenges to the country’s election spending and campaign laws when he was head of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC) have come into focus.View article >


Time for Gender Balance in Native Leadership, Say Indigenous Women

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY MEDIA NETWORK — With much attention to women candidates’ historic showing in the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) elections on July 18—four of eight hopefuls were female—many expressed hope for restoring a gender balance lost since First Contact.View article >
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Cover-ups and controversy
THIS MAGAZINE — What would justice look like for B.C.’s Missing Women Inquiry? View article >
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Velcrow Ripper’s Occupy Love looks for love among the ruins
THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT — A singing prayer bowl opens Velcrow Ripper’s Occupy Love, launching a film envisioned as part documentary, part romance. View article >


David Suzuki: ‘We’ve got to be ready to put our bodies on the line’
CANADIAN DIMENSION / RABBLE.CA — Environmental activists, climate justice organizers and Indigenous people are preparing the Defend Our Coast rally on Monday (Oct. 22) in Victoria, B.C. But as people voice their opposition to oil sands, pipelines and tankers on the coast, why have decades of struggle to protect the Earth not succeeded in changing the growth-based economy? View article >
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NOVEMBER — News investigation

A crisis in migrant health
BRIARPATCH MAGAZINE — From refugees to temporary foreign workers, migrants are bearing the brunt of health-care cuts in Canada. View article >
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NOVEMBER — Exclusive breaking news story

Spiritual Leaders Vow to Defend Mother Earth from Oil Sands and Pipelines With Spiritual Declaration
INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY MEDIA NETWORK – Indigenous spiritual leaders from across the continent have launched a declaration to protect Mother Earth from the impacts of development in Canada’s oil sands mega-project. The statement, obtained by ICTMN, is signed by more than 20 spiritual chiefs at a Sundance this summer in South Dakota, includes members of the Lakota, Navajo, Apache, Mohawk, Dine, Aztec and Ojibwe nations, spanning much of Turtle Island. Read article >
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DECEMBER — Exclusive breaking news story

‘It opens your heart’: Canada approves use of ecstasy in study into post-traumatic stress disorder
NATIONAL POST — Exactly a century after ecstasy was first patented, Health Canada has approved the drug’s import for the first Canadian study using the illegal substance in trauma survivors’ therapy.
View article >
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