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The flight that turned this grandmother’s life around: Woman says Air Canada unfairly kicked her off plane




Ellen Flemming’s trip home from British Columbia to New Brunswick was not going as planned on Aug. 18. She had spent the previous night with her husband and two grandsons in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport after their connection to Saint John was cancelled. The family boarded Air Canada flight 8946 just after 8 a.m., eager to get home.

The 71-year-old never imagined she’d be removed from the plane later that day and allegedly threatened with a lifetime ban by Air Canada. It started with a confrontation with a flight attendant over garbage.

“I went to put my water bottle into the pouch in front of me, and I put my hand in and pulled the pouch out, and my hand, my fingers went into this wet garbage,” Flemming said.

READ: Canadian plane ticket prices rose more than 10% in a year, RBC survey says

She called the flight attendant over to ask him to clean it up.

“And he just stood up tall and said, ‘I’m a flight attendant, I don’t do garbage,’” she said.

“I didn’t know what to do except I just sat there until the cart came down and I thought OK, I’m going to pick it up and there’s usually a little garbage container on the top of the cart, so I thought I’ll put the garbage in that.”

Flemming says the attendant’s reaction shocked her.

“He swiped my hand away, and the garbage, and so my hand came back and hit something on the way, and the garbage flew all over,” she said.

Flemming says she pushed the garbage into the aisle with her foot, as the flight attendant again said he wouldn’t pick it up.

READ MORE: PEI musician’s vintage guitar stabbed by airport forklift, Air Canada offers to replace the case

The woman who was sitting behind her and across the aisle says she watched the incident unfold. Helen Hollett describes the flight attendant as “irate” and “screaming.”

“She just asked him to take the garbage and she was very nice about it and then he just, he got really mad,” Hollett said.

Both women tell Global News that Flemming tried to de-escalate the situation, closing her eyes and not responding when two flight attendants tried to speak with her.

Shortly after that, the plane turned around. Hollett says she asked the crew why they were returning to Toronto.

“I said, ‘Well, if it’s because of the garbage, I’ll clean the garbage if you want me to,’” Hollett said. “And he said no. He said, ‘We’re going back for the safety of the passengers.’”

When the plane landed in Toronto, two Peel Regional Police officers and an Air Canada agent boarded and asked Flemming to leave. She says the Air Canada employee told her she would be rebooked on another flight.

WATCH BELOW: Here are some of your rights as an airplane passenger for cancellations, delays

Flemming told the Air Canada agent and the officers what happened, as the plane took off with her husband and grandsons on board.

But when she tried to get another boarding pass, “I got nowhere with Air Canada,” she said.

“The manager behind the desk, she just said, ‘You’re not ever flying Air Canada again.’”

Flemming bought a ticket with Westjet to Halifax, and arranged for a ride home from there.

READ MORE: Air Canada, WestJet raising checked baggage fees

Air Canada confirms in an email to Global News that a passenger was removed from the flight on Aug. 18, and that local authorities were called to meet the flight.

In a letter addressed to Flemming dated Aug. 30, Air Canada corporate security gives a different version of events. The letter states that she “exhibited aggressive behaviour towards a crewmember; threw garbage on the food trolley; kicked a crewmember when requested to wait until the member could come back and pick up the garbage as he was serving food.”

The Aug. 30 letter adds there is no “ongoing prohibition” that bans Flemming from travelling on Air Canada flights.

Flemming denies Air Canada’s version of events on board the Aug. 18 flight.

The Peel Regional Police, whose officers boarded the plane, give yet another account of the dispute.

In an emailed statement, the force says: “Police spoke with the individuals involved in the incident as well as other passengers seated in the vicinity of the incident. Based on the information received, it was determined that both parties were involved in a loud verbal dispute. Police concluded that no criminal offences were committed.”

Flemming says she asked police to lay an assault charge against the flight attendant in September. She says she was told by the responding officer that there was no probability of conviction, and that she could pursue a civil case if she chooses.

The airline would not agree to an interview or answer questions about what happened, but sent an emailed statement that reads in part:

“We strive to provide a safe and comfortable flight for our passengers and a safe working environment for our employees. Our crew members are professionals who are well-trained to handle challenging situations. We are unable to provide further details or discuss individual passenger files or incidents for reasons of privacy. We encourage customers to contact Air Canada Customer Relations directly with any concerns.”

WATCH BELOW: ‘She didn’t kick him’ — Witness recalls garbage conflict between flight attendant and passenger

Flemming has contacted customer relations. She says the only response she received is that letter. That’s why she turned to air passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs. He helped contact witnesses who were on board the plane to corroborate Flemming’s story, including Helen Hollett, who has signed a sworn affidavit explaining what she saw.

Hollett says she didn’t know Flemming before Aug. 18 but felt compelled to speak up when she heard another passenger say that the flight attendant was alleging he had been kicked.

“I was in a perfect position to see what was happening, and what was happening was wrong,” she said.

“I don’t think that we should be treated that way. I mean, we pay good money for these seats. I do not think that Air Canada should treat people that way.”

READ: Canadian couple stuck overseas after budget airline abruptly goes bankrupt

Lukacs agrees. He’s assisting Flemming in navigating her next steps, which he says include exploring legal options. He thinks she’s entitled to “significant compensation.”

Ultimately, he also wants to see changes in the way the airlines and the police handle these situations. He thinks video surveillance on flights would eliminate the he said-she said nature of an investigation like this one.

“Having some form of surveillance would be very important, both for the passengers and for the flight attendants,” Lukacs said.

He also wants the airlines to be more accountable when passengers are removed from flights.

“I would say that as a new standard, someone from the airline should first arrest the passenger, citizen’s arrest,” he said. “Risking the legal risk that if they falsely arrest the passenger, they are going to jail for false arrest. And then the police should intervene.”

As for Ellen Flemming, she calls the events of that August day “life-changing.” She’s hoping the airline will apologize and reimburse the cost of her WestJet flight.

“There needs to be some accountability. Accountability for that flight attendant’s behaviour, for his actions, accountability for being the cause of a flight getting turned around,” she said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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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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