Year in review: A look at news events in January 2021


Published December 31, 2021 at 4:00 am

A look at news events in January 2021:

1 – The U.S. reached 20 million COVID-19 cases on the first day of the new year. Johns Hopkins University said the U.S. exceeded the mark less than a week after the country reached 19 million cases. India and Brazil trailed behind the U.S. in cases at over 10 million and seven million, respectively.

2 – Two more members of Alberta’s United Conservative government travelled abroad over the holidays despite widespread recommendations to stay home in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. MLA Jeremy Nixon was ordered to cut short his trip to Hawaii and return home, while MLA Tanya Fir apologized for travelling to the U.S. to visit her sister.

3 – Canada hit another bleak COVID-19 milestone, with federal officials saying this country had surpassed 600,000 cases. The COVID-19 death toll reached 15,865. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 death toll in the United States surpassed 350,000.

4 – The U.K. became the first country in the world to start using the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca, with a dialysis patient named Brian Pinker the first to get the shot. Pinker said he was very pleased to get the vaccine, adding that he could now look forward to celebrating his 48th wedding anniversary with his wife, Shirley, later in the year.

5 – The Royal Canadian Navy announced its new commanding officer. Rear Admiral Craig Baines was set to replace Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, who was becoming the head of the Canadian Armed Forces. McDonald was replacing Gen. Jonathan Vance the following week. Baines had served as commander of the navy’s Atlantic fleet since 2017.

6 – The European Union got a second vaccine to use against the COVID-19 pandemic. The bloc’s medicines agency gave approval to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. The approval still had to be OK’d by the EU’s executive commission.

6 – World leaders condemned the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. Leaders expressed shock at the chaos that unfolded in a country they once relied upon for global leadership. Trump falsely claimed again that he won the election and tweeted for the rioters to go home and be peaceful when it was he who egged them that morning.

6 – Democrats won both Georgia Senate seats, and with them, the U.S. Senate majority. It was a stunning defeat for President Donald Trump in his final days in office and it dramatically improved the fate of president-elect Joe Biden’s progressive agenda. Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeated Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1992.

6 – Quebec became the first province in the country to impose a curfew to slow the spread of COVID-19 cases. It barred people from leaving their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless they were going to work. Premier François Legault said he wanted the measure to serve as shock therapy for Quebecers to understand the dire situation in overburdened hospitals.

7 – Canada’s special adviser tasked with handling last year’s downing of a passenger jet by Iran rejected the Islamic Republic’s offer of $150,000 for each of the families of those killed in the tragedy. Former Liberal minister Ralph Goodale said Tehran didn’t have the right to unilaterally offer compensation — as it did in late December through a state television network.

7 – The U.S. Congress formally validated Joe Biden’s presidential election victory on a day that saw a time-honoured ceremony become a nightmare of unprecedented political terror. The House and Senate certified the Democrat’s electoral college win after a violent throng of pro-Trump rioters spent hours the day before running rampant through the Capitol.

8 – A police officer was the fifth person to die after a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6. Capitol police said an officer died from injuries sustained during the siege. Some lawmakers labelled it a terrorist attack and demanded a review of operations and an FBI briefing. Others called for invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to force Donald Trump from office before Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

8 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was confident that Canada would have enough vaccine by September for everyone who wanted to be inoculated. Trudeau said Ottawa was on track to deliver about 1.3 million doses of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines by the end of January, with quantities scaling up in February.

8 – A new variant of COVID-19 that first surfaced in South Africa was found in Alberta, the first case reported in the country. The province’s top physician, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the new infection was believed to be travel-related and the person was in quarantine.

9 – The Queen and Prince Philip received their COVID-19 vaccinations. The 94-year-old monarch and her 99-year-old husband received their jabs at Windsor Castle. Royal officials said the Queen wanted it to be known she had the vaccination. They joined some 1.5 million people in Britain who had been given the first dose of the vaccine.

9 – Indonesian divers located parts of the wreckage of a Boeing 737-500 at a depth of 23 metres in the Java Sea. It came one day after the aircraft with 62 people onboard crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta. Earlier, rescuers pulled body parts, pieces of clothing and scraps of metal from the surface.

10 – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said legislation to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump would proceed, even as she urged the vice-president and the cabinet to invoke the constitutional authority to force him out. She said that after the deadly assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump remained a threat to democracy. Lawmakers warned of the damage Trump could still do before Joe Biden took over as president on Jan. 20.

11 – Republicans blocked a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives calling on Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke the constitutional authority to remove President Donald Trump from office. The House was also preparing to impeach Trump this week on a single charge of incitement to insurrection over last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol.

11 – Five Black Canadian musicians were the first winners of the SiriusXM Black Canadian Music Awards, which recognize artistic merit from Black songwriters and composers. Hip-hop artist Tobi, rapper Naya Ali, and R&B singer-songwriters Raahiim, Hunnah and Dylan Sinclair were chosen by a jury of their peers. They each received a $5,000 prize.

11 – U.S. president-elect Joe Biden received his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine. It came three weeks after he got the first one with television cameras rolling in an attempt to reassure the American public that the inoculations are safe. Biden spoke at a hospital in Newark, Del., saying his No. 1 priority was getting vaccines in people’s arms. The virus had killed nearly 375,000 people in the United States.

11 – The billionaire mogul who brought singing gondoliers to the Las Vegas Strip died at the age of 87. Sheldon Adelson built a casino empire spanning from Las Vegas to China and became a singular force in domestic and international politics. In 2018, Forbes ranked him the 15th richest person in the U.S., worth an estimated US$35.5 billion. Adelson was considered America’s most influential Republican donor over the final years of his life.

12 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made François-Philippe Champagne his new minister of science, innovation and industry. Officials held a virtual cabinet swearing-in ceremony today. Champagne left Global Affairs to take over from Navdeep Bains, who is not going to run in the next election. Marc Garneau left Transport to take Champagne’s job and MP Jim Carr was named as a special representative for the Prairies. Toronto-area MP Omar Alghabra took over the transport portfolio.

12 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada had secured enough COVID-19 vaccines to make sure that everyone who wanted a shot could get one by September. Procurement Minister Anita Anand said her department was working with vaccine suppliers to speed up that timeline. Trudeau announced the government purchased an extra 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that morning.

13 – The U.S. House impeached Donald Trump again, making him the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. Ten Republicans joined House Democrats in voting for the impeachment. Before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump represented a “clear and present danger” to America.

13 – Illusionist Siegfried Fischbacher, the surviving member of duo Siegfried & Roy, died of cancer in Las Vegas. He was 81. Fischbacher’s longtime show business partner, Roy Horn, died the previous May of complications from COVID-19 at a Las Vegas hospital at the age of 75.

14 – Pope Francis received his first shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

14 – Admiral Art McDonald became Canada’s top military leader. He took over as chief of defence staff from Gen. Jonathan Vance in a scaled-down COVID-19 handover.

14 – B.C.’s leading physician announced the province’s first confirmed case of the South African strain of COVID-19. Dr. Bonnie Henry said the case was not travel-related.

15 – The global death toll from COVID-19 broke the two-million mark, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. It took eight months to reach the one-million mark and less than four months after that to climb to two million.

16 – Canada surpassed 700,000 cases of COVID-19. There were 6,479 new infections nationally for a total of 702,183. This came less than two weeks after 600,000 confirmed cases were reported Jan. 3.

16 – With the countdown to U.S. president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration underway, security tightened in Washington, D.C. Humvees and troop transports blocked major intersections and soldiers steered the usual commuter traffic away from downtown, while iron fences lined the streets that would normally have had thousands of people watching to see the new president.

18 – Transport Canada gave the green light for Boeing 737 Max jets to return to service in Canadian airspace on Jan. 20. The jets were grounded worldwide in 2019 following two crashes — one in the sea off Indonesia and one in Ethiopia. Hundreds were killed in the crashes, including 18 Canadians.

18 – Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said if U.S. president-elect Joe Biden rescinded a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion, it would kill jobs in both countries and undermine U.S. national security. Kenney said Alberta would work with TC Energy, the pipeline’s owner, to use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project.

19 – A Russian judge ordered opposition leader Alexei Navalny jailed for 30 days. The ruling came after the leading Kremlin critic returned to Russia from Germany, where he was recovering from nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on President Vladimir Putin’s government. Navalny’s arrest had already prompted a wave of criticism from U.S. and European officials, adding to existing tensions between Russia and the West.

19 – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 was provoked by President Donald Trump and other powerful people. After years of supporting Trump, McConnell stood on the Senate floor and said: “The mob was fed lies.”

19 – The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 400,000, providing a grim ending to Donald Trump’s presidency. The milestone came almost exactly a year after health officials diagnosed the country’s first case of the virus, and months of efforts by Trump to downplay the threat.

20 – U.S. President Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States without a whiff of trouble. Kamala Harris also became the first woman to be vice-president, and first in the job as a person of colour. In his inaugural address, Biden urged all Americans to come together, to overcome the challenges facing the nation. He noted the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol two weeks ago failed.

20 – Derek Sloan was kicked out of the Conservative party because his failed leadership campaign accepted a donation from a white supremacist. Party leader Erin O’Toole initiated the caucus removal process after news of the donation surfaced. Sloan did not dispute he received the money from Paul Fromm, but had said he was unaware of it.

20 – U.S. President Joe Biden carried out his campaign promise to tear up the presidential permit keeping the Keystone XL expansion alive. Biden also signed an order returning the United States to the Paris climate accord. Former president Donald Trump had withdrawn the U.S. from the agreement in 2017.

21 – Julie Payette resigned as governor general following an investigation into allegations of a toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. She issued a statement apologizing for tensions in her office but did not take direct responsibility for creating such an atmosphere. She also suggested the move was made for personal reasons, citing her father’s declining health. The allegations against Payette included that she belittled and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears and prompting some to quit.

22 – Baseball great Hank Aaron passed away in his sleep at the age of 86. “Hammerin’ Hank” endured racist harassment and threats with dignity as he pursued and broke Babe Ruth’s career home-run record in the pre-steroids era. Aaron set multiple records during his 23-year career in the majors, but the Hall of Famer will be remembered for one swing — on April 8th, 1974 — that made him baseball’s home-run king with 715 homers. It was a title he held for more than 33 years.

22 – Joe Biden’s first call as U.S. president to a foreign leader was with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the two leaders spoke for about 30 minutes. Trudeau urged people to look past Biden’s decision to kill off the Keystone XL pipeline project, which he called “disappointing.” He said the two leaders were focused on the shared vision of tackling climate change while fuelling economic growth.

23 – Legendary broadcaster Larry King died at age 87. Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted that King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. No cause of death was given, but CNN had earlier reported King was hospitalized with COVID-19. King interviewed presidents, movie stars and regular Joes during his half-century in broadcasting.

23 – Health Canada approved an Ottawa company’s made-in-Canada rapid COVID-19 test. The test developed by Spartan Bioscience is performed by a doctor and provides on-site results within an hour. Spartan billed it as the first ”truly mobile, rapid PCR test.” It was developed through clinical evaluation in Canada and the United States, with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute as one of the testing locations.

24 – Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong died. He was 90. Armstrong captained the Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cups in the ’60s and wore the blue and white his entire career.

25 – The U.S. Supreme Court ended lawsuits over whether Donald Trump violated a clause in the Constitution and illegally profited off his presidency. The suits involved whether Trump broke the law by accepting payments from foreign and domestic officials who stayed at the Trump International Hotel. The justices threw out Trump’s challenge to lower court rulings that had allowed lawsuits to go forward and ordered appeals courts in three states to dismiss the suits as moot now that he had left office.

25 – Controversial Ontario senator Lynn Beyak stepped down. It was three years before her mandatory retirement, but in line with sticking to an eight-year term limit that would have been imposed on senators under the Harper government’s original plan to have an elected Senate. Beyak was suspended from the Senate after she claimed that residential schools benefited Indigenous children.

27 – Cloris Leachman, a character actor whose depth of talent brought her an Oscar for the “The Last Picture Show” and Emmys for her comedic work in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and other TV series, died at 94. A publicist said Leachman died of natural causes at her home in Encinitas, Calif. Millions of viewers knew the actor as the self-absorbed neighbour Phyllis in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and then in her own show as that character.

27 – The U.S. Homeland Security Department issued a national terrorism bulletin warning of the potential for lingering violence from people motivated by anti-government sentiment. The bulletin suggested the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks.

29 – The federal government announced new restrictions aimed at discouraging travel and reducing the spread of more infectious variants of COVID-19. Anyone returning from abroad would have to quarantine in a designated hotel at an estimated cost of $2,000 per person as they awaited the results of an airport COVID-19 test. All international passenger flights had to land in either Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary or Montreal.

31 – More than 20,000 people had died due to COVID-19 in Canada. The sobering figure emerged after Quebec reported 31 new fatalities related to the virus. Canada had now recorded 20,016 deaths since the first case of COVID-19 surfaced in the country just over a year ago.

31 – The federal government was reviewing yet another COVID-19 vaccine that had been submitted for regulatory approval. Maryland-based Novavax applied on Jan. 29 for Health Canada to approve its vaccine, which studies have suggested is effective against the British and South African variants of the virus.

The Canadian Press

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