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Scott Brison denies lobbying for shipbuilder in Mark Norman affair

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A senior Liberal cabinet minister denied Tuesday lobbying on behalf of one of the country’s leading shipbuilders, which has been swept up in the court fight surrounding the military’s former second-in-command.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison faced a second day of questions in the House of Commons over what contacts he had with Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax prior to a key cabinet committee meeting at the heart of the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.

Court documents filed last week alleged that Brison had a « close relationship » with the shipyard and that he was fronting an effort to scuttle a proposal from rival Davie Shipyard, of Levis, Que. in the fall of 2015.

« The only engagement I had with Irving Shipbuilding during the period in question was being copied on a letter sent to two other ministers, » he told the Commons, referring to a letter the company sent to four cabinet ministers, extolling the virtues of their proposal.

« My job as Treasury Board president includes expenditure review and due diligence to ensure the integrity of government contracting. That is exactly what I did, my job. »

The political, bureaucratic and corporate tug-of-war over acquiring a leased supply ship for the navy is underpinning the Crown’s case against Norman.

He was charged last spring with a single count of breach trust.

Prosecutors allege the former vice chief of defence staff favoured a $668 million proposal by the Davie yard. When the newly elected Liberal government wanted to pause the project, Norman allegedly leaked word of the secret decision of the cabinet committee.

At the time, he was head of the navy.

‘Obstructing justice’

The ensuing political uproar over the possible cancellation forced the Liberals to back down and the ship was eventually completed and has now entered service.

The leak to CBC News became the basis of an RCMP investigation. The reporter who wrote the story, James Cudmore, left journalism shortly afterwards and went to work as a policy advisor in Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office.

The disclosure motion, which has put Brison in the crosshairs of the Conservative opposition, was filed on Friday by Norman’s lawyers who are asking the court to release a trove of secret and confidential documents related to the handling of the leased supply ship program.

The prime minister’s office, according to the court documents, is blocking the release of the information. Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen said officials were « in essence, obstructing justice » by blocking the naval officer’s right to a fair trial.

Hiding behind the courts

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he wasn’t prepared to comment about an ongoing court proceeding.

« Due process will apply and justice will be done, » he said. « I am sure the honourable member knows that criminal prosecutions are not pursued on the floor of the House of Commons. »

The Conservatives, however, countered that the case had already been politicized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who on two occasions, before charges were laid, made remarks which Norman’s lawyers seized on in the court filing.

Asked about the investigation on April 6, 2017, Trudeau said he believed the matter « will likely end up before the courts » and then on Feb. 1, 2018, he stated the RCMP investigation would « inevitably » lead to « court processes. »

Lisa Raitt, the Conservative deputy leader, said Goodale is trying to hide behind the court process by saying it’s improper to comment.

« Maybe he should tell that to the prime minister who deemed even before an investigation had concluded that the admiral would be charged, » she said.

« For a government that is in love with the Constitution, I really thought it would understand that the right to a fair defence and the right to procedural fairness of the individual would trump their desire to hide some uncomfortable things that were probably said at a cabinet meeting.

Why is the government putting its self-interest above somebody’s defence? »

The Crown and Norman’s lawyers will be in court Nov. 2 to argue over the disclosure of documents.

A trial is not expected until next summer.

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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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