My picks for city’s top newsmakers
As we prepare to ring in the new year, here’s my list of the Edmonton newsmakers of 2013 — the intriguing, exasperating, inspiring, infuriating or influential people who helped shape the city.
Here, in rough chronological order, are the dozen names — one for every month of the year, and every day of Christmas: 1) Manwar Khan — The slight government IT guy’s account of being trapped on an LRT car, witnessing the beating death of John “Jonny” Hollar, and his failed efforts to rescue the victim, touched the city. Khan went on to organize public anti-bullying rallies to empower Edmontonians to intervene when they see someone in trouble. 2) Thomas Lukaszuk — The Edmonton MLA began the year as deputy premier. In February he was named the new minister of Advanced Education as well — a role which led to major conflicts with Edmonton’s post-secondary institutions and a public “pissing” match with Mayor Stephen Mandel. By year’s end, the charismatic but combative minister had been replaced as deputy premier and advanced ed minister by Dave Hancock, and given responsibility for training, skills and labour instead. 3) Tanya Kappo — The aboriginal activist and social media provocateur was one of the founding forces of Idle No More, giving public voice, in the news and on Facebook and Twitter, to the frustrations and aspirations of Edmonton’s native community. In November, Kappo made the news again with her outrage over Theatre Network’s controversial production, Pig Girl. 4) Indira Samarasekera — The strong-willed president of the University of Alberta was in the spotlight in March when she had to defend her university against steep, shocking cuts to post-secondary funding, and against the Redford government’s plan to impose mandate letters on the province’s universities. She also had to defend herself against allegations she was spending too much time away from Edmonton and spending too much money on her own office. 5) Guy Smith — The tenacious leader of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees was front and centre in April, when AUPE corrections workers and sheriffs launched an illegal wildcat strike. But Smith and AUPE made headlines, too, with campaigns to save the Michener Centre in Red Deer and to reverse privatization of home care, and with highprofile labour disputes at local seniors home. The payback was harsh: In November, the province introduced punitive legislation to deny AUPE’s right to collective bargaining, and to increase penalties for illegal labour action. 6) Daryl Katz — Edmonton’s international man of mystery made headlines without ever appearing in public, as the difficult negotiations for a new downtown arena finally reached their May conclusion. The Edmonton Oilers owner ended 2013 in triumph, selling the naming rights to the new ice palace to Rogers. A week later, his family was back in the news when his wife, Renée Gouin-Katz, made a quiet but substantive donation which saved a WIN House shelter for immigrant woman fleeing abuse. 7) Amarjeet Sohi — Would he or wouldn’t he? In late May, Sohi ended the suspense and bowed out of the mayoral race, a move that proved one key factor in Don Iveson’s stunning victory. With his council experience and quiet authority, Sohi is well-positioned to take on a role as Iveson’s influential lieutenant and ally. 8) Janet Davidson — In June, Health Minister Fred Horne fired the entire Alberta Health Services board and hired Davidson as interim administrator to replace the board. Davidson swept house, creating a new streamlined management structure. The result? Horne appointed her deputy minister, Alberta’s most powerful health bureaucrat — allowing her to keep her handsome AHS salary. 9) Brent Rathgeber — The outspoken MP for Edmonton-St. Albert was never shy and retiring, but he made serious waves when he left the federal Conservative caucus in June to sit as an independent. He has continued to make waves and serve the city as a cogent critic of Conservative policy and of Stephen Harper’s rigid leadership. 10) Don Iveson — Edmonton’s young mayor spent his summer and fall campaigning hard and strategically, an effort that paid off hugely in October, when he won virtually ever poll, leaving his closest rivals, Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte, in the dust. Smart, suave and social-media savvy, Iveson has created high expectations. The test for 2014 will be to see if he can live up to his own hype. 11) Danielle Smith — Sure, the Wildrose leader is the MLA for High River. But this fall, she went on a remarkable Edmonton charm offensive. In October, her party relaunched as WRP 2.0, a party that suddenly acknowledged climate change, championed gay rights and fought for organized labour. Then Smith set out to court Edmonton, making a high-profile speech professing her new admiration and affection for the city. Will Edmonton allow itself to be wooed? That’s the hot question of 2014. 12) Lynn Coady — In November, Coady scooped the $50,000 Giller Prize, Canada’s richest literary award, with her acclaimed short story collection, Hellgoing. It was the first time an Edmontonian has scored the Giller in the award’s 20-year history, a nice coup for the city, the short story genre and of course, for Coady herself, who actually knocked Toronto mayor Rob Ford right off the Journal front page.
Manwar Khan launched an anti-bullying campaign after witnessing a man’s beating death.
Writer Lynn Coady was the upset winner of the lucrative Giller Prize, and the first Edmontonian to win the award.
When Health Minister Fred Horne fired the entire AHS board, Janet Davidson took over. She’s now deputy health minister
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith set out this year to charm Edmonton. Is her WRP 2.0 campaign working?