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Grace period over for unvaxxed travellers, latest GDP figures: In The News for Nov 30

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 Nov. 30 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
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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 Nov. 30 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Starting today, unvaccinated travellers over the age of 12 won't be able to board a plane or train in Canada.

There are some exceptions, including valid medical exemptions, travel to remote communities only accessible by plane, and those transiting through Canada en route to another destination. 

Most people who qualify for an exemption will need a recent COVID-19 test.

The policy came into effect on Oct. 30, but the federal government allowed a short transition period for unvaccinated travellers, who could board as long as they provided a negative molecular COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before their trip.

The stringent new requirement comes into effect as Canada reacts to the emergence of the new, highly mutated Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The discovery of the new variant has prompted border closures and heavier screening in Canada and abroad over fears it could prove more transmissible.

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Also this ...

Statistics Canada is scheduled to report this morning how the Canadian economy fared during the third quarter of the year.

Late last month, the statistics agency initially estimated that real gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 1.9 per cent between July and September.

The figure is to be finalized today after the agency received additional data to determine if the economy did indeed rebound from a contraction of 1.1 per cent in the preceding three-month stretch.

The consensus expectations from economists is that GDP grew in the quarter at an annual rate of about three per cent, which would be below the Bank of Canada's projection of 5.5 per cent.

CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes says some growth that didn't happen in the third quarter may get pushed to the final trimester of 2021, but could be impacted by flooding in British Columbia.

TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam also warns that growth through the end of the year could take a hit from the Omicron variant of COVID-19 that could be more transmissible.

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And this..

It seems the majority of Canadian adults aren't making the grade when it comes to physical fitness amid the pandemic.

ParticipAction's second report card for adults gives Canadians an "F" for sedentary behaviour after 88 per cent of those surveyed said they were relatively inactive more than eight hours a day in addition to sleep time.

The findings are largely based on Statistics Canada data collected through various surveys in 2020 and 2021.

Today's report gives adults a "C" when it comes to both total daily steps and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. 

Roughly 49 per cent of those surveyed took at least 7,500 steps per day, which Statistics Canada describes as a "physically active lifestyle." 

That's down from 52 per cent in the non-profit's previous report card, which looked at pre-pandemic activity in 2018 and 2019 and was released in late 2019.

Meanwhile, 57 per cent reported at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week — the same as last time.

While some Canadians actually became more active during the pandemic, researchers say more people became less active as restrictions closed gyms, offices and sports leagues.

What we are watching in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON _ Former U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyers will try to persuade a federal appeals court to stop Congress from receiving call logs, drafts of speeches and other documents related to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol led by his supporters.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear arguments Tuesday from lawyers for Trump and the House committee seeking the records as part of its investigation into the riot.

Trump's attorneys want the court to reverse a federal judge's ruling allowing the National Archives and Records Administration to turn over the records after President Joe Biden waived executive privilege. Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected Trump's claims that he could exert executive privilege overriding Biden, noting in part, "Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not president.'' The appeals court issued an administrative stay after Chutkan's ruling to review the case.

Democratic presidents nominated all three judges who will hear arguments Tuesday. Patricia Millett and Robert Wilkins were nominated by President Barack Obama, and Ketanji Brown Jackson is a Biden appointee.

Given the stakes of the case, either side is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court.

In their appeal to the circuit court, Trump's lawyers said they agreed with Chutkan that presidents were not kings. "True, but in that same vein, Congress is not Parliament _ a legislative body with supreme and unchecked constitutional power over the operations of government,'' they wrote.

Trump has argued that records of his deliberations on Jan. 6 must be withheld to protect executive privilege for future presidents and that the Democrat-led House is primarily driven by politics. The House committee's lawyers rejected those arguments and called Trump's attempts to assert executive privilege "unprecedented and deeply flawed.''

"It is difficult to imagine a more critical subject for Congressional investigation, and Mr. Trump's arguments cannot overcome Congress's pressing need,'' the committee's lawyers said.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

BANGKOK _ A court in Myanmar postponed its verdict on Tuesday in the trial of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to allow testimony from an additional witness.

The court agreed with a defense motion that it allow a doctor who had previously been unable to come to court to add his testimony, a legal official said.

The verdict would be the first for the 76-year-old Nobel laureate since the army seized power on Feb. 1, arresting her and blocking her National League for Democracy party from starting a second term in office.

She also faces trials on a series of other charges, including corruption, that could send her to prison for dozens of years if convicted.

The court was to deliver a verdict on Tuesday on charges of incitement and violating coronavirus restrictions.

The judge adjourned the proceedings until Dec. 6, when the new witness, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, is scheduled to testify, said the legal official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the government has restricted the release of information about the trial. It was unclear when a verdict will be issued.

The cases are widely seen as contrived to discredit Suu Kyi and keep her from running in the next election. The constitution bars anyone sentenced to prison from holding high office or becoming a lawmaker.

Her party won a landslide victory in last November's general election. The army, whose allied party lost many seats, claimed there was massive voting fraud, but independent election observers did not detect any major irregularities.

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On this day in 1874 ...

Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in Clifton, P.E.I. She had been earning money with her writing since the late 1890s, but her first novel, "Anne of Green Gables,'' published in 1908, put her on the literary map. In 1911, she married the Reverend Ewan Macdonald and moved to Ontario. Montgomery published seven more Anne stories, as well as the autobiographical Emily trilogy and approximately 500 short stories and 450 poems. Montgomery's ear for dialogue and insight into human nature has made her Canada's most enduring literary export. She died in Toronto in 1942.

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In entertainment ...

LONDON, Ont. _ Dallas Smith was the big winner at the Canadian Country Music Association award show Monday night, nabbing three trophies including entertainer of the year at a splashy livestreamed event in front of thousands of in-person spectators.

The 43-year-old from Langley, B.C., who performed his single "Hide From a Broken Heart'' for the fully vaccinated crowd at Budweiser Gardens, also won the male artist of the year award and single of the year for "Like A Man.''

Smith claimed the top entertainer title for the third straight year, beating out Brett Kissel of Flat Lake, Alta.; Dean Brody of Smithers, B.C.; MacKenzie Porter of Medicine Hat, Alta.; and the Reklaws from Cambridge, Ont.

The bash marked the return of the CCMA show to the live-event sphere for the first time since Calgary hosted in 2019.

Smith, accepting his first award of the night, thanked organizers for "doing what they needed to do to get people in a building again and bring this genre and live music back to life.''

The Reklaws, a brother-sister pair comprised of Jenna and Stuart Walker, won top group or duo of the year, thanking their parents _ "the first duo to shine in our eyes,'' Stuart said in their acceptance speech and again backstage.

Tenille Townes of Grand Prairie, Alta., earned two awards, repeating as top female artist for a third straight year and adding an album of the year trophy for ``The Lemonade Stand.''

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ICYMI ...

MONTREAL _ Rising international demand for maple syrup and a drop in production last year have created a global shortage _ but Quebec's strategic reserve is ready to hold the line.

The organization governing Quebec's maple syrup producers will release onto the market 50 million pounds of maple syrup _ worth about $150 million _ by February, Helene Normandin, the group's spokeswoman, said in an interview Monday. The reserve can hold up to 100 million pounds of maple syrup, she added.

"If we didn't have a reserve, we would be in trouble,'' Normandin, with Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, said. "But the reserve is exactly for this.''

Demand for maple syrup this year is outstripping supply, she explained.

Canadian maple syrup exports _ most of which come from Quebec _ have risen 21 per cent since January 2020, Normandin said, adding that last year's warm winter resulted in the production of about 133 million pounds of syrup, down 40 million pounds compared with the prior year.

She said a big reason why demand has increased is due to the fact the United States doesn't have its own syrup reserve. "They sold all of their maple syrup produced in 2021, so they are digging into our supply even more,'' she said.

Normandin said people shouldn't worry because her organization created the strategic reserve specifically to address shortages.

Quebec produces nearly three-quarters of the global maple syrup supply and exports the product to more than 60 countries. Normandin said that to avoid future shortages, an extra seven million trees over the next three years will be added to the 50 million that are tapped annually in the province.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2021.

The Canadian Press