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Trump, Trudeau praise USMCA trade deal they say will ‘grow middle class’




Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump are both talking up the benefits of a new trilateral trade pact between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, saying it will grow the middle class and boost all three countries’ economies.

Trudeau said the successor to NAFTA — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — will modernize and stabilize the economy for the 21st century, guaranteeing a higher standard of living for Canadians for the long term.

The prime minister said striking the deal was « no easy feat » and Canada got there by maintaining its focus and collective resolve. He defended Canada’s concessions on the dairy sector, promising to address the « anxiety » with adequate compensation for affected farmers and to protect the supply management system.

Warning that the agreement must still be ratified by all three countries, Trudeau said the tentative deal means economic stability for the continent.

« We now have a path forward, » he said.

Trudeau and Trump spoke by phone earlier in the day, with the PMO issuing a statement extolling the benefits of the « new and modern trade agreement » reached last night.

« The prime minister and president stressed that the agreement would bring the countries closer together, create jobs and grow the middle class, enhance North American competitiveness and provide stability, predictability and prosperity to the region, » the statement reads.

The leaders agreed to keep in close touch to move the agreement forward. Trudeau also spoke with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto about the deal; both leaders said it will strengthen their countries’ close partnership and create good, well-paying jobs.

During a news conference in Washington, Trump called the agreement « truly historic news » for the U.S. and the world, replacing the « worst trade deal ever made » (NAFTA) with one based on fairness and reciprocity that closes what he called « terrible loopholes. »

Trump confirmed that hefty tariffs the U.S. imposed on steel and aluminum will remain intact until there is a new system in place, such as a import quota.

« We are not going to allow our steel industry to disappear, » he said.

Trump said the agreement will transform North America back into a manufacturing powerhouse.

The president said he and Trudeau butted heads over several issues, but in the end agreed to a deal that benefits both countries, as well as Mexico.

« This is a terrific deal for all of us, » he said.

Trump praised Trudeau, despite what he called the « strong tensions » between the two leaders during the trade talks.

« He’s a good man and he’s done a good job, and he loves the people of Canada, » he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said negotiators will continue to fight to lift the lingering tariffs on aluminum and steel, insisting the integrated industry is « balanced and mutually beneficial. » She said her team will build on the momentum and intensify discussions on the tariffs.

Freeland highlighted the benefits of the agreement, including the fact it fends off auto tariffs Trump had threatened to impose. It also improves labour and environmental standards while protecting cultural industries, she said.

« This is a victory for all Canadians, » she said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is expected to react to the deal later today after getting a briefing. Former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney issued a statement calling the agreement « a highly significant achievement for Canada » that will benefit all three countries.

« I have not yet had the opportunity to study the full text – and frequently the devil is in the details – but Canada appears to have achieved most if not all of its important objectives in this lengthy and challenging set of negotiations, » he said.

« I said at the beginning that there is no Conservative or Liberal way to negotiate a free trade agreement — there is only a Canadian way. This has been the government’s approach as well and I commend all — from the prime minister down — who contributed to writing this vital new chapter in the ongoing drive for greater Canadian strength and prosperity. »

The new trade deal Canada has agreed to sign with the U.S. and Mexico is being applauded for including measures that will protect jobs and preserve cultural industries — and panned for concessions that could harm the dairy sector.

Calling it a « great day for Canadians, » the head of the country’s largest private sector union said the USMCA will stem the flow of jobs to Mexico, protect cultural identity and preserve a formal process for settling trade disputes.

Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, conceded the deal isn’t good for dairy, but said overall the USMCA will yield benefits for Canadian workers and the economy.

« There are some incredible victories in this deal, things we’ve been arguing and fighting for for the last 24 years, » he said.

Dias said another downside to the deal is a change to intellectual property rules that will extend the patent on biologic drugs to 10 years from eight. But he expects a national pharmacare plan will buffer Canadians from escalating medical costs.

« Am I comfortable? The answer is yes. Is it a perfect deal? The answer is no. But are we better off today than we have been over the last 24 years? I’ll say emphatically, the answer is yes, » he said.

Steel tariffs intact

Dias said he is pleased the deal fends off the threat from President Trump to slap 25 per cent tariffs on Canadian automobiles. While the reformulated deal does not lift the existing tariffs on steel and aluminum, Dias said he believes it’s better to find a permanent solution through the dispute process than to have a quota that could lead to a « generational » problem.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias says the USMCA is a good deal for Canadian workers. (CBC)

Jean Simard, president of the Aluminum Association of Canada, said he was disappointed that the tariffs weren’t addressed in the new deal.

« We are certainly glad to see that the three countries have reached an agreement. We are very disappointed that section 232 (tariffs on national security grounds) on aluminum and steel have not been dealt with, and we are strongly urging Minister Freeland and Prime Minister Trudeau, who has spent lots of time in our plants recently, to remember our thousands of workers and ensure that Canada’s world class aluminum industry can grow free of tariffs and quota. »

Impact on dairy sector

Ontario Premier Doug Ford expressed concern about the impact of the deal on his province’s agriculture sector.

« While I’m optimistic that the USMCA announced today will create continued opportunities, I remain concerned about the impact of Canada’s reported concessions on Class 7 milk and access to Ontario’s dairy market could have on our agriculture sector. We also remain concerned about the remaining steel and aluminum tariffs, » he said.

« Our government will be speaking directly with industry representatives from Ontario’s steel, aluminum, auto and agriculture sectors to determine the impacts of this deal. »

The Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) said they have paid the price to conclude the trade agreement.

« The announced concessions on dairy in the new USMCA deal demonstrates once again that the Canadian government is willing to sacrifice our domestic dairy production when it comes time to make a deal, » said DFC President Pierre Lampron in a statement.

« The government has said repeatedly that it values a strong and vibrant dairy sector — they have once again put that in jeopardy by giving away more concessions. »

Dennis Darby, president of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, called the agreement a « significant step » that preserves integrated manufacturing supply chains and will help create certainty for business.

« The manufacturing sector is the cornerstone of the North American economic relationship and the reason this trade agreement is so critical, » he said in a statement.

« We worked closely with the government throughout the negotiation to ensure the integrated manufacturing sector would remain unharmed and strengthened where possible. We believe the USMCA has accomplished this objective. »


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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme




Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year




In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal




MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.


The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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