- CAROL HUYNH
Her parents, boat people, fled Vietnam and settled in Hazelton, B.C., where Carol was born in 1980. She defeated the world champion to take wrestling gold in Beijing–in her tiny hometown, they stayed up all night to watch the match live.
- STEPHEN HARPER
He gambled on an early election, breaking his promise to wait until next year, and won: no majority, but 16 new seats.
- ROBERT MUGABE
Zimbabwe’s president stole the 2008 elections. ruined the economy and terrorized the opposition as well as voters, yet the 84-year-old has successfully resisted all attempts to remove him from power.
- JOHN PAULSON
The U.S. hedge fund guru bet against sub-prime mortgages and won big: in 2007, he Personally earned US$3.7 billion–and his funds are now up an additional 20 per cent.
- RAWI HAGE
The Montreal cabbie-turned-author won the $160,000 IMPAC prize in June for his first novel; his second, Cockroach, was nominated for Canada’s top three awards.
- ANNE HATHAWAY
The actress rebounded prettily from her split with a now-convicted fraudster, earning Oscar buzz for her star turn in Rachel Getting Married.
- TINA FEY
There was the slew of awards for her quirky sitcom 30 Rock, the successful entree to the big screen with Baby Mama, and then the gods dropped Sarah Palin in the comedienne’s lap. Fey’s impression of the Alaska governor sent Saturday Night Live’s ratings through the roof.
- ALEXANDER OVECHKIN
The Washington Capital left-winger won virtually everything in ’08.
Left fielder Jason Bay, the pride of Trail, B.C., hit the big time after being traded to the Red Sox and proving his worth in the playoffs … Laundry manager Bill Kirkland won an Excellence in B.C. Healthcare award for designing a hospital gown that doesn’t leave patients’ behinds exposed … Wii Fit, an interactive program that gets gamers off the couch to simulate sporting moves, is on track to outsell Grand Theft Auto IV … Canadian medical researchers Samuel Weiss, Nahum Sonenberg and Alan Bernstein won the most prestigious award you’ve never heard of: the Gairdner, often a precursor to a Nobel … A 12-year-old Quebecoise successfully sued her father, who didn’t let her go on a school trip after she misbehaved … Canada’s wilderness had a banner year, with an exponential expansion of nature reserves, particularly in the Northwest Territories.
- HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
The first serious female presidential candidate lost, but also won; she proved it’s possible, and will be a D.C. powerhouse.
- VLADIMIR PUTIN
The Russian president-turned-PM is still firmly in charge; he appointed a puppet successor and masterminded the war in Georgia.
CTV’s cop show was renewed for a second season on CBS–the first Canadian drama on a U.S. network since Due South.
- LEWIS HAMILTON
At 23, the youngest driver ever to win the Formula One championship-not bad for a Brit in his sophomore year on the circuit.
As Wall Street burned, the insurance giant got a US$150-billion lifeline from taxpayers; execs celebrated with spa retreats and hunting trips.