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Montreal newsmakers of 2014 – Montreal

MONTREAL — Over the past year, Montreal has seen the rise and fall of political leaders, political parties and political ideas.

We’ve heard grueling details on crimes committed in our own neighbourhoods in the past few years and in 2014 many of them came to shocking conclusions with judge and jury sentences, re-trials and guilty pleas. 

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Montreal has also seen its share of athletic role models who’ve made us proud to be from the same city, winning our hearts with their determination and unbeatable skills.

We’ve been inspired, moved and even motivated by everyday people in our community, who’ve been taking a stand for what they believe in, defending others and helping those in need.

Here’s a look at a few of Montreal’s heroes and villains of 2014.

Politics 

Denis Coderre

He began trending in Montreal from the moment he was elected the city’s new mayor. From #Coderring to challenging the mayors of opposing NHL cities and even participating in the infamous ice bucket challenge, Coderre has proved to be someone with a great sense of humour. Still, he managed to maintain his seriousness when it came to pension protests and the trashing of City Hall. Denis Coderre is definitely one of Montreal’s most recognizable newsmakers of the year.

Denis Coderre began trending the moment he became Montreal’s new mayor.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

PKP

From #LeShove to #FistPump, media magnate, Pierre Karl Péladeau made his way into the headlines during the Quebec Elections and despite the Parti Québécois’ loss, he continues to find his way into the spotlight. With controversies like the conflict of interest related to his media company, Quebecor Inc. and his announcement to seek the PQ leadership, we’ll definitely be hearing more from PKP in 2015.

Pierre Karl Péladeau gestures during a press conference in Saint Jerome, Que., Sunday, March 9, 2014. Péladeau has announced his candidacy for the riding of Saint Jerome for the Parti Quebecois on day five of the Quebec provincial election

CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Bernard Drainville

Ah yes, who could forget the Quebec Charter of Values, the Parti Québécois’ proposed bill to ban ostentatious religious symbols in the province’s public sector. It was an issue that quickly made it into the headlines when it was proposed in 2013. The face behind the bill  was of course, Bernard Drainville who had to deal with an overwhelming amount of backlash during the Bill 60 hearings from religious groups, hospitals, school boards and government officials. Drainville continues to make the news with his launch for the PQ leadership bid and a proposal for a new “softer” Charter of Values that will be released over the next few months.

Quebec Minister Bernard Drainville speaks at a legislature committee studying the proposed Quebec Charter of Values Friday February 7, 2014 in Quebec City. Drainville is confirming he will seek the leadership of the Parti Quebecois

CANADIAN PRESS/Clement Allard

Pauline Marois

This year marked the end of the Pauline Marois era. From the controversial #Charte, to the revival of sovereignty, Marois made headlines across Canada running as leader of the Parti Québécois. After the party’s loss in the provincial elections this past April, Marois announced that she would step down from her post and leave politics. Her rise and fall proved to be a major news buzz of 2014.

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Philippe Couillard

As Pauline Marois bowed out of politics, in came Liberal leader, and now Premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard. Despite putting the sovereignty movement and the identity debate on the back burner, Couillard has had his fair share of controversy in 2014. For one, the parliamentary session wrapped up with the Liberals being accused of betraying the middle class, municipal workers were slapped with a pension reform and parents, with higher daycare fees, controversial changes to the healthcare system were introduced and access was cut to in-vitro fertilization programs. Still, Philippe Couillard is confident the Liberals are on the right path, promising healthy public finances and lower income taxes as early as 2017.

Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Gaetan Barrette

We were first introduced to Gaetan Barrette in 2012 when he ran with the Coalition Avenir Quebec, and lost to a Parti Quebecois candidate. In 2014, he re-appeared into the spotlight after he switched allegiances to run for the Quebec Liberal Party. Barrette won his riding of La Pinière beating out long time MNA, Fatima Houda-Pepin. Now, as Quebec’s health minister, he’s constantly under fire, particularly with the Quebec Doctors Federation. From pushing back pay increases, cuts to English healthcare services, and now his proposed healthcare reform, we’ll definitely be seeing more of Gaetan Barrette in the coming year.

Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barette is sworn in during a ceremony, Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at the legislature in Quebec City.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Fatima Houda-Pepin

She was most recognized as the long-time MNA for the La Pinière riding on the South Shore, a position she held for nearly 20 years. But in January, Houda-Pépin left the Quebec Liberal party, after making clear her support for the Parti Québécois’ proposed secular values charter, which would impose restrictions on the wearing of religious garments in the public sector. Her position put her at odds with Liberal Party leader Philippe Couillard, who wanted all party members against it. She then ran as an independent in her riding but lost to Gaetan Barrette.

Independant MLA Fatima Houda-Pepin announces her decision to run as an independant candidate for the coming election, at a news conference, Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at the legislature in Quebec City.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Jean François Lisée

Goatee or no goatee, JF Lisée is probably one of the most recognized members of the National Assembly. When he first took office in 2012, he was appointed as minister in charge of improving government relations with the province’s anglophones. Who could forget all those complaints filed by the language police in 2013, #Pastagate anyone? But after the Liberals took office at the beginning of 2014, Lisée stepped out of the spotlight for some time. His name made it back into the headlines after he threw his name in the Parti Québécois leadership race, as rival to media mogul Pierre Karl Péladeau.

The Parti Quebecois (PQ) MNA Jean-Francois Lisee

Denis Beaumont / THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES

Justin Trudeau

Aside from welcoming his third child, Hadrian in February, 2014 was a busy year for Justin Trudeau.  For one, he got a new haircut and now that he that he’s playing with the big boys in Ottawa as Liberal Party leader and trying to prove he can be the next Prime Minister of Canada, Trudeau is dealing with much bigger issues than when he was MP for the riding of Papineau. This year he’s had to take positions on controversial topics like abortion, marijuana, and most recently, sexual harassment accusations against MPs in his own party.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is shown during a news conference Wednesday June 11, 2014 in Ottawa. .

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Anne Lagacé-Dowson

Anne Lagacé-Dowson may have been a familiar voice for Montrealers as a longtime broadcaster but she quickly became a familiar face this year when she announced she was entering the race for Chair of the English Montreal School Board. Although Lagacé-Dowson’s priorities included more French in English schools, protecting special-needs funding and a need for more transparency at the school board, the EMSB campaign was quickly dominated by mud-slinging between her and opponent Angela Mancini. A war of words was sparked between the two candidates on past allegations involving Lagacé-Dowson’s team member, Julien Feldman. In the end, Lagacé-Dowson was defeated, and Angela Mancini was re-elected as Chair of the English Montreal School Board.

Anne Lagacé Dowson was a candidate for chair of the English Montreal School Board

File photo

Angela Mancini

She is most recognized by parents of children who attend the English Montreal School Board, as Angela Mancini has been chair of the board since 2007. For the first time, parents got to decide who they wanted the leader of their school board to be. During the elections, it became a two-way race when Mancini was challenged by Anne Lagacé-Dowson. Despite constant mud-slinging between the two candidates and personal-attacks made against Maninci’s team, she was re-elected as chairperson of the English Montreal School Board.

Chairperson for the English Montreal School Board.

Campaign poster

Michaëlle Jean

Known best as the former Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean was recently named the first woman leader of la Francophonie. She will oversee the organization of 57 member states for the next four years.

Former Governor General Michaelle Jean smiles after being chosen as the new Secretary-General of La Francophonie during the Francophonie Summit in Dakar, Senegal on Sunday, November 30, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Crime

Luka Magnotta

It was one of the most notorious murder cases our country has seen. We first heard of 32-year-old Luka Magnotta in May 2012, when he was accused in the gruesome slaying and dismemberment of Chinese engineering student Jun Lin. The case involved the grisly discovery of a human torso in a suitcase, a video depicting the murder posted online and an international manhunt. After a lengthy trial this year and a week-long deliberation, a jury found Magnotta guilty of first-degree murder, committing an indignity to a human body, publishing obscene material, criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament, and mailing obscene and indecent material. The court sentenced him to life in prison for murder and handed Magnotta the maximum sentences for all other charges.

Guy Turcotte

Known as the former Quebec doctor who stabbed his two children to death in 2009, Guy Turcotte made it back into the headlines this year when he was granted bail in the lead up to his second trial. He said that he wanted to be released so that he could care for his family and take on volunteer work at a food bank on Montreal’s South Shore. In a controversial verdict in 2011, he was found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder for the murder of 3-year-old Anne-Sophie and 5-year-old Olivier. Turcotte is now a free man, awaiting the new first-degree murder trial which is scheduled for September 2015.

Former cardiologist Guy Turcotte, accused of killing his two children, was granted bail on September 12, 2014 in Ste-Jerome, Que.

Earl Jones

You may remember him as the investment advisor who defrauded more than a hundred clients, mostly seniors, of about $50 million in 2009. The Ponzi Scheme got him an 11-year sentence in jail but he was released from jail in March 2014, after serving only four years. Jones is out on parole under several conditions, including avoiding contact with his victims or their families. He is now reportedly living with his wife in Westmount.

Earl Jones is shown in Montreal, on July 27, 2009.

Graham Hughes, The Canadian Press

Lise Thibault

She was the Queen’s representative to Quebec from 1997 to 2007 but now ex-lieutenant-governor Lise Thibault is in the province’s bad books after she pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and breach of trust in December. The Crown alleges that Thibault spent $700,000 of taxpayer money on trips and meals unrelated to her official duties. The Quebec government is also suing Thibault in a separate civil case for $92,000 for what it calls unjustified expenses.

Former Quebec lieutenant governor Lise Thibault leaves a courtroom, Monday July 28, 2014 in Quebec City. The fraud trial of Thibault will resume Oct. 2.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Clement Allard

Nikolas Stefanatos

In 2012, Brossard-native Nikolas Stefanatos threw corrosive acid at his 29-year-old girlfriend Tanya St-Arnaud. She suffered serious burns to her head, arms and upper body, and was put in a medically-induced coma. In November of this year, Stefanatos pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. He was handed a 57-month sentence but has already gotten credit for serving 41-months, meaning Stefanatos will be out of jail in 16 months.

Following an argument, Stefanatos allegedly threw an industrial drain cleaner Tanya St.Arnaud’s face

Global News

Anthony Alfieri

In February 2010, Anthony Alfieri got behind the wheel drunk and high on marijuana. While driving at nearly twice the speed limit, he crashed into a lamp post on De La Concorde Boulevard in Laval. The impact was so violent, the vehicle split in two. Alfieri survived the crash but according to police, he fled the scene and left his two passengers to die. In May 2014, his trial came to a surprise end when the 30-year-old pleaded guilty to four criminal charges: two counts of criminal negligence causing death, and two counts of leaving the scene of a crash. The parents of both victims as well as MADD Canada were up in arms when a Laval judge handed him a four-year prison sentence, calling the sentence a joke, arguing that it simply wasn’t enough based on the crimes he committed. By law, Alfieri could have faced a maximum life sentence.

Anthony Alfieri (right) pled guilty to four criminal charges including criminal negligence causing death.

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Emma Czornobaj

Few criminal cases have generated as much debate as the one known as the “stopping-for-ducks” case. In 2010, 25-year-old Emma Czornobaj stopped her car in the left lane of the highway to help some ducks cross safely. A motorcyclist and his passenger daughter slammed into her parked car and died. In June 2014, she was found guilty by a jury on two counts of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing death. By law, Czornobaj could have faced up to life behind bars but in December, a superior court judged sentenced her to 90 days in prison for causing the deaths of André and Jessie Roy. Czornobaj will also be required to perform 240 hours of community service and will not be allowed to drive for 10  years.

Emma Czornobaj, who caused a fatal traffic accident after stopping her car to help ducks on a busy highway, arrives at court in Montreal Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Howard Krupp

A 68-year-old West Island resident, Howard Krupp was first arrested in November 2013, after waiting for students at bus stops and then following them home. His wife, a teacher at Hillcrest Academy in Laval even had to take a leave of absence after the child predator was stopped by police outside her elementary school. In March 2014, he was re-arrested and is now facing two charges of indecent assault that relate to incidents in place between 1970 and 1976. This was not the first run-in with the law for Howard Krupp. About 13 years ago, he was arrested in a massive child pornography case.

Howard Krupp was arrested by Montreal police for criminally harassing schoolchildren in November 2013.

Police handout

Benoit Roberge

He was a Montreal sergeant-detective who had been assigned to investigate organized crime — but this year we learned that Benoit Roberge was, in fact, selling information to the Hell’s Angels over a period of several months, ultimately pocketing about $125,000. In March, he tearfully pleaded guilty to a charge of gangsterism and explained that he’d been threatened into cooperating with the gang and had made a mistake by not reporting it to his superiors. He was handed an eight-year prison sentence.

Benoit Roberge was arraigned on Monday at the Montreal courthouse after being accused of being an infomant for the Hells Angels for years.

William Marsden

Pamela Porter

While Arthur Porter is still sitting in a Panama jail after being accused of accepting millions of dollars for fraudulently awarding a contract to build the new McGill University Health Centre superhospital, his wife Pamela is next in line. In December 2014, she pleaded guilty to two counts of laundering the proceeds of crime and has been sentenced to 33 months for her role in an alleged bribery scandal. The 54-year-old is one of several people charged in the fraud and bribery case related to the MUHC superhospital contract.

Pamela Porter pleads guilty and has been sentenced to 33-months in jail

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Sports

Anthony Calvillo

After an illustrious 20-year career, the CFL’s best quarterback announced his retirement in January. Calvillo became the Alouettes’ starter in 2000 and led the franchise to Grey Cup wins in 2002, 2009 and 2010. The Los Angeles native set records for passing yards with 79,816, completions with 5,892, pass attempts with 9,437 and touchdown passes with 455. In October, he had his No. 13 jersey retired in a ceremony at half time of the Montreal Alouettes’ game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. But it doesn’t mean it’s the last we’ve seen of Calvillo. In December, he was appointed the position of offensive coach for the Montreal Alouettes.

Former Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo waves to fans in Montreal, Monday, October 13, 2014, prior to a ceremony to retire his jersey

CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Alexandre Bilodeau

He may only be in his late twenties, but Alexandre Bilodeau already has quite the impressive resume, mostly consisting of Olympic gold medals. Not only was he was the first athlete to win a gold medal on Canadian soil during the Olympic games in Vancouver, he won his second gold medal this year in Sochi, making him the first mogul freestyle skier to do so twice in a row. In October, Bilodeau announced he would hang up his skis for good to focus on his career. If you’re lucky you may even bump into him studying at John Molson School of Business at Concordia University.

Canada’s gold medalist Alex Bilodeau celebrates on the podium during the Men’s Freestyle Skiing Moguls Medal Ceremony at the Sochi medals plaza during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 11, 2014.

Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

Dufour-Lapointe sisters

You could say mogul skiing runs in this family. These golden sisters won our hearts during the Sochi Olympics when they became the first Canadian set of three siblings to compete in the same event at the same games. Justine won gold and Chloé took silver. Their post-Olympic life hasn’t been all too bad either. When they’re not training, the sisters are showing off their passion for fashion with a new après-ski accessory line, collaborating with Montreal-retailer, “Call It Spring.”

Justine, Maxime and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe are pictured in Montreal, April 1, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

P.K. Subban

Let’s be honest, he’s probably the most famous guy in Montreal. The defensemen and alternate captain for the Montreal Canadiens is loved on-and-off the ice.  This year, fans were on-edge while the 25-year-old was going through a suspenseful hearing to determine his next contract. The team finally agreed to an eight-year $72-million contract extension with jersey number 76, which runs from 2014-15 to 2021-22. Oh, and who could forget, Subban also won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics – and a place in all our hearts with this video. It’s no wonder they call him “the Subbanator.”

Montreal Canadiens’ player P.K. Subban skates during a practise session in Montreal, Tuesday, January 7, 2014. Subban has been selected to play for team Canada at the 2014 winter olympics in Sochi.

THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes

Eugenie Bouchard

Even though hockey dominates most of the sports scene in Montreal, one person in particular has brought our attention to a different sport: tennis. Not only is Eugenie Bouchard Quebec’s sweetheart, she’s also one of the most famous athletes in the world; so much so that even has her own “Genie Army.” The Westmount resident was recently named ‘Top female of the year’ by the Canadian Press, for the second year in a row. Not only has she made it to the semifinals of the Australian and French Opens but at the 2014 Wimbledon Championships, she became the first Canadian to play in a Grand Slam final. The 20-year-old is currently ranked number 7. rising quickly from number 32.

Eugenie Bouchard of Canada smiles after winning the women’s quarterfinal match against Alize Cornet of France at the WTA Wuhan Open tennis tournament in Wuhan, China’s Hubei Province, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /Xinhua, Xiao Yijiu

Our community heroes

Akshay Grover

As Montrealers, we know just how long the drive to Toronto can be. Now imagine running there… and that’s exactly what this Pierrefonds Comphrensive High School student did over the summer. The 16-year-old went the extra mile for his end of year school project, when he decided to run a 550 kilometre journey in just two weeks: the equivalent of a marathon a day. His goal was to raise $10,000 for Childhood Cancer Canada, but he managed to raise over $14,000. He’s now working on film documenting the run, to be released online in January.

Pierrefonds resident Akshay Grover ran from Montreal to Toronto to raise money for Cancer.

Akshay Grover

Matthew Tod

Seventeen-year-old Matthew Tod didn’t let an intimidating and embarrassing situation prevent him from doing the right thing. In September, he stopped by the Sears bathroom at Fairview Pointe-Claire Mall, when a man peeped into his stall and took a photo of him. Tod reported the incident and the solicitation writings on the bathroom walls to security. Despite being told not to go to the police, he did in fact file a report and spoke to Global News about the terrifying experience. In doing so, Tod could have actually uncovered an underground sex ring. Upon further investigation, police arrested a 53-year-old man on charges of sexual voyeurism. 

Matthew Tod was the victim of a Fairview Pointe-Claire Peeping Tom.

Matthew Tod

Charel Bergeron, Melizanne Bergeron, Marc-André Côté and Charlène Plante 

It’s a story that involved hundreds of thousands of Quebecers on social media, working together to help find an abducted baby. In May, a woman dressed as a nurse allegedly entered Mélissa McMahon’s room at a hospital in Trois-Rivieres and took her day-old baby girl, Victoria. Within hours her baby was returned to her, all thanks to four quick-thinking teenagers: Sharelle Bergeron, Marc-Andre Coté, Charlène Plante and Mélizanne Bergeron. They recognized the photo of the suspect circulating online and went looking for her. After going to her home, they immediately called police. The four teens were hailed as heroes for reuniting the baby with their parents, and were even honoured by the Sécurité publique de Trois-Rivières for their detective work.

Four quick-thinking teens saw a photo circulating on Facebook and jumped to action.

Global News

Sugar Sammy

Okay, so he hasn’t exactly saved anyone’s life or cracked an on-going police investigation, but Sugar Sammy still deserves an accolade for his ability to make Montrealers laugh out loud, on-and-off the stage. In fact, what makes him a community hero is that he’s probably the only person in Montreal who can get away with publicly poking fun at Quebec’s language laws. For example, this year the Côte-des-Neiges native placed a billboard advertisement in about a dozen metro stations that read “For Christmas I’d like a complaint from the Office de la Langue Française.” Still, he remains popular among both anglo and francophone communities. Since launching his bilingual “You’re Gonna Rire” show in 2012 and “En Français SVP!,” he’s sold 275,000 tickets in the province. He’s also been voted comedian of the year at Quebec’s Olivier awards for two years in a row. In February, Sammy launched a new hit TV series, Ces gars-là on Quebec’s French “V” network. The series did so well that it was extended to a second season, which kicks off February 24, 2015.

Sugar Sammy, winner of the category for Spectacle d’humour de l’année, “En français svp!” and Olivier de l’année at the annual Gala des Oliver in Montreal Sunday, May 12, 2013. Christmas.”

Peter McCabe/Global News

Sue Montgomery

#BeenRapedNeverReported was a hashtag that began a global discussion about rape, consent, and what sexual assault really means and it’s all thanks to Montreal Gazette justice reporter, Sue Montgomery. After assault allegations began rolling in against the CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi, she was one of the first public figures to break her silence and share her own personal story of sexual assault by her own grandfather and by a former co-worker. It caused a ripple affect around the world, causing millions of men and women to come forward with painful experiences they had kept under wraps for years.

Sue Montgomery Gazette staff

John Mahoney/THE GAZETTE

Ginette Reno

Habs fans may have countless superstitions, but by far one of the best ones this year was a 68-year-old award-winning singer belting out Canada’s national anthem before a game. Ginette Reno won our hearts during the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, when she sang a memorizing rendition of “O Canada.” All this after Reno suffered a heart attack in January! But Montreal’s good luck charm pulled through and was given the go-head by her cardiologist to keep singing for the Canadiens. Her presence on home ice led team to win after win during the spring playoffs. Let’s hope she agrees to sing more winning notes for us in 2015.

Chanteuse Ginette Reno is considered a lucky talisman for the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL playoff series.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Mai Duong

At first glance, you wouldn’t exactly know that Mai Duong had been fighting a deadly form of leukemia for the second time in two years. That’s because you’ll always find her with a big smile on her face. Earlier this year, Duong was in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant, but of the 16 million donors around the world, only one per cent of the international donor bank is of Asian origin. She took to the media with her message, prompting Vietnamese communities around Canada to rally together to help save 34-year-old mother. In September, a miracle happened. Duong received stem cells from umbilical cord blood donated by a mother and was finally healthy enough to leave the hospital. Duong is a perfect example of someone who never gave up hope that she would one day get better and finally be able to spend time with her daughter Alice. Not only is she a survivor but she also created awareness on the importance of non-Caucasians to enlist in donor registries around the world.

Mai Duong smiles following a news conference in Montreal, Tuesday, September 16, 2014. Quebec woman\’s desperate online plea for a compatible stem-cell donor in her bid to fight cancer a second time is shedding light on the lack of minorities on official lists in Canada and abroad.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Sama Al-Obaidy

This Muslim Montrealer took a challenging experience and turned it into something positive. While the heated debate over the proposed Charter of Values was taking place in Quebec, Sama Al-Obaidy was on the metro when a woman violently attempted to rip off her hijab — and that’s when Sama found out that she wasn’t the only religious minority being targeted in the province. She decided to start a campaign called “Support Another,” which encouraged people to wear a religious symbol for a day in order to make a statement about the controversial Charter of Values. The event encouraged a discussion and motivated people to be accepting of other faiths.

Sama Al-Obaidy is one of the co-founders of the “Support Another” campaign in Quebec.

Global News