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No federal party will turn back the clock on the legalization of marijuana

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OTTAWA—It is not a drill. When legal cannabis hits the shelves in Canada on Wednesday, it will be there to stay.

Come next year’s federal election, no party will be committing to turn back the clock on Justin Trudeau’s signature policy; not even the Conservatives who spent the last campaign painting nightmare scenarios about the legal sale of marijuana and who would have no qualms about doing away with other major parts of the Liberal legacy.

Marijuana plants are shown at a cultivation facility in Olds, Alta., on Oct. 10, 2018. Considering the amount of money and labour that has gone into the new market for marijuana, it was never a political policy that could or would be reversed on a dime, Chantal Hébert writes.
Marijuana plants are shown at a cultivation facility in Olds, Alta., on Oct. 10, 2018. Considering the amount of money and labour that has gone into the new market for marijuana, it was never a political policy that could or would be reversed on a dime, Chantal Hébert writes.  (Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

If Andrew Scheer became prime minister, he would waste no time in dismantling the Liberal climate change infrastructure. A Conservative federal government would turn its back on carbon pricing and lighten the regulatory burden on pipeline owners.

It would reverse the bid to make the Senate more independent and resume appointing partisan members committed to supporting the government agenda to the Upper House.

But Scheer would not kill the nascent legal cannabis market..

It would of course be hard for the Conservatives to continue to prosecute the legalization of cannabis with a minimum of credibility when some of those who toiled on their front bench or in their government’s backrooms have now become poster people for the cannabis industry.

Given the significant amount of money and labour that has gone into the opening and the operation of this new market, this was never a policy that could or would be reversed on a dime.

When the Liberals first adopted a resolution in support of the legalization of cannabis at the party’s 2012 convention, few believed it had the potential to become a fait accompli a mere half-a-dozen years later.

The party was leaderless and languishing in third place in the House of Commons. The best some Liberal strategists could think of saying about the cannabis resolution was that it sent a signal that there was still some policy life on their political planet. The worst was that it could lead scores of voters to dismiss their party as too irresponsible to be returned to government.

Yet support for the legalization of marijuana among the Liberal delegates cut right across the age spectrum. That was a rare clue that the proposal might turn out to be more than a one-convention wonder.

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about the need for governments to acquire a so-called social licence for the projects and the policies they support.

But in the case of the legalization of cannabis — as in that of assisted dying — the federal government of the day did not so much create the circumstances for social acceptability as take advantage of its existence.

An Abacus poll published on Monday reported little public resistance to the new status of cannabis. Most Canadians will not be dancing in the streets when marijuana stores open for business on Wednesday, nor will they be rushing to the barricades to protest.

Read more:

Opinion | Walkom: Legalizing pot is about politics — and big business

Investing in cannabis will be hazy in the short run

I was 14 when I first realized how readily available cannabis was. The fact that it was an illegal substance did not factor in my decision to take a pass on trying it. By all accounts, my experience is par for the course for most adult Canadians.

It won’t be easier to purchase cannabis under the new regime; at first in fact it will often be harder. The main change is that it will no longer be illegal. And as a result, scores of people, many of them young, will no longer risk being saddled with a criminal record. Over time, smoking weed may become as uncool as smoking tobacco.

That is not to say that the politics of marijuana will fall right off the radar. But much of the action — at least over the first few years — will be taking place in the provinces.

As it is now configured, the legal cannabis market is really a patchwork system featuring almost as many approaches as there are provinces.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. At some point, best practices will surface and — in an ideal world — be replicated.

For instance, Quebec — under its incoming CAQ government — is planning to take as close to a prohibitionist approach as possible. Premier-elect François Legault would raise the legal age to buy cannabis from 18 to 21 and make it illegal to smoke weed in public places. Ontario is taking a more liberal approach.

The next few years will tell which of the two comes closest to meeting the policy objectives of eradicating the black market and ensuring that less cannabis finds its way into the hands of Canadian teenagers.

But under any scenario, getting an informed take on the big post-legalization picture will take longer than the 10 or so months between now and the next federal election.

Chantal Hébert is a columnist based in Ottawa covering politics. Follow her on Twitter: @ChantalHbert

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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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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Anglais

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

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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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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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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.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

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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