As the end of the year rapidly approaches us, the H+K team has once again reflected and nominated the top newsmakers, campaigns and events to take Canada’s media landscape by storm. From Bieber’s wardrobe to several political surprises, many homegrown stories made national and international news. But what were these events and what made them so memorable? Here’s our round-up of the country’s top unexpected media moments of 2012:

Bieber meets Prime Minister Harper

What made it memorable were the overalls! And I don’t believe that wearing a white t-shirt, a backwards hat, oversized chain, overalls and neon shoes while accepting the Diamonds Jubilee Medal from Prime Minster, Stephen Harper, says disrespect. Our country’s leader himself absolved the young lad, tweeting “In fairness to @justinbieber, I told him I would be wearing my overalls too. #cdnpoli #beliebers.” Well, he just got my vote.

Hilda Kinross, National Practice Leader – Marketing Communications

Guy Fawkes mask

The ‘face’ of protest has become the Guy Fawkes mask, trademark of the Anonymous anarchist hacker group. It popped up again in Canada this year during the Quebec student street protests and opposition to Bill C30. The mask — which was reborn after the graphic novel V for Vendetta was published in 1982 — now unites political dissent globally. We’ll be seeing a lot more of it in Canada and elsewhere in the future.

Boyd Neil, National Practice Leader – Social Media & Digital Communications

Premier Lougheed’s passing

Intrigue, drama, triumph, and sorrow exploded on the Alberta political scene sending ripples throughout Canada in 2012.  The passing of former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed in September rallied Albertans and Canadians who remember his place on the national scene. Added to that, in April, Albertans navigated through one of the most compelling election campaigns in decades. The election resulted in both Alberta’s first female Premier, Progressive Conservative leader Alison Redford, as well as the first female leader of the Official Opposition, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith taking their seats across the aisle from one another. The election solidified 41 years of PC government in the province which began with Premier Peter Lougheed’s victory in 1971 which brought the PCs to power.  In a twist of irony, Premier Redford was born in March 1965, when Lougheed first took leadership of the PC Party. Fortunately, Premier Lougheed was alive to witness the drama of the campaign and the success of his party continue into a new era.

Catherine Keill, Senior Account Director

Mayor Rob Ford ordered removed from office

It came as a surprise to many when Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles T. Hackland found Mayor Rob Ford guilty of conflict of interest and ordered him removed from office. The decision sent shockwaves not only across the city but even received media and social media pickup worldwide (that’s right, we made The Economist). This decision was unprecedented, and it was not immediately clear what this meant for Ford and the city itself.  Would Toronto be without a Mayor? While the situation has evolved since then, the outcome is still unclear. Mayor Ford could win his appeal and remain Mayor. If he loses the appeal, the city could either choose to appoint someone to the mayor’s position or hold a by-election. Regardless, details will not be clear until early next year. Perhaps this will be a newsmaker for 2013.

Anne Kothawala, Vice President and Group Leader – Public Affairs

Conrad Black’s outburst during his BBC interview

In an era where powerful business executives rival actors and rock stars for celebrity status, the recent BBC interview with Conrad Black was definitely a media moment.   Watching as he straddles both sides of the pond, media in both countries dissected his reaction as Mr. Black responded to the hosts’ repeated use of the word “criminal” during an October interview. With coverage that included a Toronto Life online list of the “best lines” from the interview, while other pieces summarized the interview as a “testy exchange” and said he was in “fighting form.” Regardless of whether you think Mr. Black or the interviewer were in the right – the commentary proves that we love to watch the mighty, and a good jousting match.

Ilyse Smith, Senior Vice President and General Manager – H+K Toronto


The Premier has left the building

The time was 6:15 p.m. on a Monday evening. While many were making their way home from work, taking kids to swimming lessons or preparing dinner, Queen’s Park was abuzz with activity. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, had called an unexpected evening caucus meeting. As MPPs assembled and journalists hovered, it was clear this was no ordinary meeting. With his wife by his side, Premier McGuinty entered the caucus room and approached the microphone. After a brief discussion of his government’s progress on a number of fronts, he announced he would be proroguing the legislature. This announcement would have generated front page headlines by itself, but the Premier wasn’t finished yet. “After 16 years as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and after nine years as premier, it’s time for renewal, it’s time for the next Liberal premier.” Those words changed the political landscape in Ontario irrevocably, and created one of the most unexpected media moments of 2012.

Atul Sharma, Vice President – Public Affairs