Newsmakers 2015: The year in #hashtags

The hashtags that defined the year and what we talked about on social media in 2015


Eveline Xia had only two Twitter followers when, for her very first tweet, she used #Donthave1million to protest Vancouver’s rising real estate prices. The hashtag went viral, and led to rallies demanding affordable housing. Need a reminder of the stories behind 2015’s other hashtags? Read on …

The first tweet from Eveline Xia protesting the rising real estate prices in Vancouver touched a nerve among would-be homeowners shut out of the property market

Isis Wenger tweeted this phrase, her response to sexism in her sector, after she was featured in a recruiting ad and became the focus of misogynistic comments. Her hashtag prompted other women to speak out too.

Canadian designers Dsquared2 were lambasted for their hashtag promoting a new clothing line inspired by “Canadian Indian tribes.”

A campaign protesting that while showing male nipples is legal, the display of female nipples is banned on social media, and still illegal in parts of the United States.

Canada got behind the Toronto Blue Jays as the team ended its 22-year playoff drought.

The misogynistic acronym for “F–k her right in the p—-” is screamed at women reporters, usually when they are live on television.

After realizing that Johnny Depp had smuggled his terriers, Boo and Pistol, into Australia on a private plane without going through quarantine, the government ordered the dogs to be removed, or authorities would put them down.

When Caitlyn Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, other trans people photoshopped themselves onto the magazine front and posted the results.

The brutally fast and powerful spikes of Canadian volleyball player Gavin Schmitt are the inspiration of this hashtag, which was especially popular during the Pan Am Games.

As attacks on abortion rights and the defunding of Planned Parenthood grew in the United States, ordinary supporters of pro-choice rights came forward to explain why they had abortions.

After Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi denounced the Conservative position banning the niqab at citizenship ceremonies, Tory minister Jason Kenney shot back: “It seems to me that it’s the mayor and people like him who are politicizing it.” While many assumed “people like him” was an attack on Nenshi’s Muslim faith, the mayor took the high road, tweeting, “ ‘People like me,’ eh? Let’s just assume @jkenney means ‘thoughtful people,’ shall we?”

The Maclean’s debate was the first in the history of federal elections that was not organized by a pool of television networks. Moderated by the magazine’s political editor and columnist, Paul Wells, it was watched by an estimated 4.3 million voters.

A celebrity Twitter war broke out when Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stephano Gabbana criticized “synthetic” babies born through in vitro fertilization. Among those slamming the designers were famous gay fathers including Elton John and Ricky Martin.

The meme started when, in advance of a severe winter storm, two CBC hosts in the Maritimes revealed that chips and dip were on both their lists of emergency supplies. Later that year, actual Storm Chips hit grocery shelves.

With global attention focused on his win, and his youthful good looks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave rise to the hashtag “PM I’d like to f–k.”

A Scottish bride asked for online help as to whether her mother’s striped dress was blue and black or white and gold. The world was sharply divided, as scientists explained that the colour combination created an optical illusion in some brains. (For the record, the dress was blue and black.)


Frustrated that Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy was about to face a second trial in Egypt—he was accused of undermining the nation’s security—his family went to social media in an attempt to get the Canadian government to apply pressure on their Egyptian counterparts.


With the #BlackLivesMatter movement largely focused on high-profile killings of black men by police, activists sought to draw attention to the deaths of black women by police by personalizing their stories rather than treating them as statistics.



This hashtag was used by people speaking out over the practice of schools banning girls for many saw as discriminatory dress code violations, often with officials saying the codes were to stop boys from becoming distracted.


After a man tweeted a picture of a dead raccoon sprawled on a busy sidewalk in downtown Toronto, a memorial grew on the site to the animal, now named “Conrad.” City workers eventually removed the animal.


The hashtag was born after British Conservative fundraiser Michael Ashcroft alleged in a biography of Prime Minister David Cameron that the politician had put a “private part of his anatomy” into a dead pig’s mouth during a university club initiation.


Six-year-old Mable Tooke took a bite out of crime in Edmonton when the Spiderman-loving cancer survivor “rescued” kidnapped Oilers captain Andrew Ference with the help of the police, politicians, Lucy the elephant and pretty much the entire city. It was part of a heartwarming caper organized by the Children’s Wish Foundation.


A Starbucks campaign in which baristas wrote the phrase on cups in order to start a conversation about race in the United States met with some very mixed responses.


A New York City rat with attitude captured attention when he was recorded pulling a slice of pizza twice his size down a subway staircase.


During the Canadian federal election, the Conservatives unveiled a hotline to report “barbaric cultural practices.” Soon the phrase was being used to identify everything from the serious (the missing and murdered Indigenous women) to the frivolous (playing of Nickleback on the radio.)


When Stephen Wicary returned to Canada from a posting in Cuba, he went to pick up his dog from the Montreal airport. Bruno wasn’t there. As airports scoured their sites, it was eventually revealed Bruno had been shipped back to Cuba. Wicary waited nine hours for his dog to come home.


A hashtag promoting Ontario’s Police Week was taken over by critics of carding policies to ask pointed questions about police conduct. #distractinglysexy Nobel laureate Tim Hunt created a furor when he talked about the “trouble with girls” at a conference. “Three things happen when they are in the lab,” he said. “You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry.” Women were not impressed, and published photos of themselves in work clothes that were anything but sexy.

#jesuis Charlie

People around the word showed support for free speech as well as the staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, contributors to which were gunned down by Islamist terrorists in January.

A United Nations campaign that seeks to involve men in the campaign for female equality, given a major lift by UN goodwill ambassador Emma Watson.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could marry, this hashtag said it all.

While numerous federal political candidates were forced to withdraw from the election because of embarrassing revelations, none was more famous than Conservative Jerry Bance. Undercover video shot in 2012 by CBC’s Marketplace for a segment on home-repair companies showed Bance, then an appliance repairman, urinating in a coffee mug, then quickly rinsing it, while the home owner was in the next room.

The ongoing saga of the private email address and server used by Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state continues to embroil the Democratic presidential candidate.

High school student Ahmed Mohamed was detained by Texas police after his homemade clock was believed to be a bomb. People including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and President Barack Obama tweeted support, and suggested he swing by, while Google invited him, and his clock, to its prestigious science fair.

The craziest trend of 2015 involves dangling an expensive smartphone by a thumb and forefinger over a perilous spot, such as a sewer grate or ocean.

The official tag for the 42nd Canadian federal election.

Explaining why you voted in a specific election.

A campaign, supported by Michelle Obama, to help the 62 million girls around the world currently denied the right to education

The trial of Sen. Mike Duffy, charged with multiple offences including fraud and breach of trust, began in April.

Montreal’s plan to dump eight billion litres of sewage directly into the St. Lawrence River to allow time for crucial repairs to a pipeline was controversial, to say the least.

The NBC News anchor was pulled off the air when it was revealed that he’d repeatedly embellished stories of his exploits.

When it was revealed that the New England Patriots had deflated footballs so as to give quarterback Tom Brady an on-field advantage, a meme was created. Soon this hashtag was being rivalled by #deflategate.

The severe drought, and ensuing water restrictions, in California led to neighbours outing friends for their suspiciously green lawns.

During the November attacks in Paris, many were stranded away from home. Parisians with a free bed or couch took to social media to indicate they would take in strangers, showing that city’s innate grace even in the face of disaster.

When then-premier Jim Prentice blamed his fellow Albertans for the province’s fiscal mess, some angrily pointed out that his Conservative party had run the province for 43 straight years. The Tories lost the election.

After then-prime minister Stephen Harper said it was “offensive” for women to cover their faces with a niqab, Twitter was flooded with photos posted by women asking the PM if their outfits were acceptable.


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