In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 22 ...
What we are watching in Canada ...
A major winter storm bearing down on Toronto is adding to the calamity in Canadian airports already plagued by flight cancellations and delays set off early this week by heavy snow in Vancouver.
Environment Canada says Toronto's storm will begin today with rain or snow followed by plummeting temperatures, a potential flash freeze and blizzard-like conditions Friday.
Toronto's Pearson International Airport has cautioned it could affect operations, while Environment Canada warns of possible extensive power outages and dangerous travel conditions.
It follows days of heavy snow and extreme cold in Vancouver that severely impaired airport operations, prompting the airport to halt all incoming international arrivals until Friday morning so congestion on the tarmac could be cleared.
While there was some reprieve in Vancouver Wednesday, the airport says it's doing everything in its power to prepare for more severe weather today and pledges to provide detailed information before the system arrives.
Hundreds of Air Canada and WestJet flights have been grounded since Sunday and other affected airports include those in Victoria and Calgary.
Also this ...
Family, friends and shocked community members held a candlelight vigil Wednesday night to honour the victims of the deadly condo shooting north of Toronto.
Dozens of people holding candles and flowers gathered outside the city hall in Vaughan, Ont., to pay their respects.
Police have identified the victims as Rita Camilleri, Vittorio Panza, Russell Manock, Helen Manock, and Naveed Dada. Doreen Di Nino's husband has identified her as the lone survivor of the Sunday night shootings and said she is resting in hospital after emergency surgery.
While the families did not want to speak, they listened to the tributes and condolences from community leaders such as Vaughan Mayor Steven Del Duca and Pastor Jason Cleugh from Maple Community Church.
"Please remember, you are the light of your loved one,'' Cleugh said, addressing the families.
"Please let your light shine and their memory will live through you. Speak wonderful things of them this Christmas season. This holiday season, remember them, be thankful for them. We are thankful they are part of our community.''
York Regional Police have said a 73-year-old man who was in a lengthy dispute with his condo board killed three board members and two of their partners before he was shot dead by an officer.
Del Duca said there are no words that can adequately convey Vaughan's collective heartbreak, nor are there any words that could provide enough comfort to the victims' families.
What we are watching in the U.S. ...
Nearly 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, according to final figures released Thursday.
The official number was 106,699, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. That's nearly 16% higher than the nearly 92,000 overdose deaths in 2020.
Earlier, provisional data suggested there were more than 107,000 overdose deaths last year. The numbers may have changed as some additional death records have come in, a CDC spokesman said. Also, provisional data includes all overdose deaths, while the final numbers are limited to U.S. residents, he noted.
The CDC on Thursday also released a final report for overall U.S. deaths in 2021. As previously reported, more than 3.4 million Americans died that year, or more than 80,000 than the year before. Accidental injuries _ which include drug overdoses _ was the fourth leading cause of death, after heart disease, cancer and COVID-19. Life expectancy fell to about 76 years, 5 months.
What we are watching in the rest of the world ...
Throughout Mariupol, Russian workers are tearing down bombed-out buildings at a rate of at least one a day, hauling away shattered bodies with the debris.
Russian military convoys are rumbling down the broad avenues of what is swiftly becoming a garrison city, and Russian soldiers, builders, administrators and doctors are replacing the thousands of Ukrainians who have died or left.
Many of the city's Ukrainian street names are reverting to Soviet ones, with the Avenue of Peace that cuts through Mariupol to be labeled Lenin Avenue. Even the large sign that announces the name of the city at its entrance has been Russified, repainted with the red, white and blue of the Russian flag and the Russian spelling.
Eight months after Mariupol fell into Russian hands, Russia is eradicating all vestiges of Ukraine from it _ along with the evidence of war crimes buried in its buildings. The few open schools teach a Russian curriculum, phone and television networks are Russian, the Ukrainian currency is dying out, and Mariupol is now in the Moscow time zone. On the ruins of the old Mariupol, a new Russian city is rising, with materials from at least one European company, The Associated Press found.
But the AP investigation into life in occupied Mariupol also underlines what its residents already know all too well: No matter what the Russians do, they are building upon a city of death. More than 10,000 new graves now scar Mariupol, the AP found, and the death toll might run three times higher than an early estimate of at least 25,000. The former Ukrainian city has also hollowed out, with Russian plans to demolish well over 50,000 homes, the AP calculated.
On this day in 1917 ...
The federal government announced that no liquor or beverage containing more than two per cent alcohol could be imported into Canada.
In entertainment ...
Adam O'Byrne had largely put aside acting to work behind-the-scenes in television, but he could not turn down a hair-raising cameo on AMC's ``Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire.''
The Toronto-bred Stratford Festival alumnus appears during a particularly gruesome turn of events in the penultimate episode of the completed first season, in which the depraved vampire Lestat decapitates a man and toys with the head _ a "startlingly realistic'' mould of O'Byrne's noggin.
"It was all very kind of accidental but then in the end, a total highlight,'' O'Byrne says by phone from Los Angeles, where he serves as producer and ``right hand'' to creator and showrunner Rolin Jones.
"It's terrifying how much it looks like (me), down to my eyebrows. It's crazy.''
Amid a multitude of off-the-rail moments in the seven-episode gothic series, O'Byrne is just one of several Canadians who contributed to some of the show's most devastating shockers. The following contains spoilers for what happens in season one, which examines a toxic vampire relationship.
There's also Vancouver's Thomas Antony Olajide, whose character in episode three unwittingly inflames Lestat's thinly veiled insecurities, and screenwriter Hannah Moscovitch, who penned an exceedingly violent assault in episode five that divided the online fandom.
Moscovitch says she's aware of the social media debate and criticism that followed, much of it bemoaning the network's failure to warn viewers of extreme intimate partner violence. She says the request ``made a lot of sense'' but that the decision was not up to her, nor show creators.
Did you see this?
In an estimate released Wednesday, Statistics Canada said the country's population grew by 362,453 people, or 0.9 per cent, between July and October alone.
That influx of people over the three-month period was more than the total population growth of 350,000 in all of 2011,the agency noted _ the fastest single-quarter growth rate since the second quarter of 1957. At that time, there was a postwar baby boom happening, as well as an influx of refugees after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
The federal agency is attributing the record-high figures to a rise in non-permanent residents, including work-permit holders and people fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Immigration numbers _ considered a separate category to non-permanent residents as it refers to people given the right to live in Canada permanently _ are also elevated, reflecting the government's targets, the agency noted.
Yvonne Su, an assistant professor in York University's department of equity studies, says the growing population can help contribute to the economy in a positive way.
"Canada's actually having such an issue filling jobs in major sectors like construction and factories,'' she said. ``All these labour jobs are in big need of workers and immigrants have filled those spots.''
There were 122,145 immigrants in the third quarter of 2022, the second-highest number in any third quarter since 1946, the year quarterly data became available, Statistics Canada said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2022.
The Canadian Press