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So much has changed between Trudeau and Canada’s premiers

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MONTREAL—Political goodwill could be in short supply when the first ministers gather in Montreal on Friday. Much has changed — mostly for the worst for federal-provincial harmony — since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last presided over the same gathering a bit more than a year ago.

Over the 14-month interval between the two conferences, voters forced three of Trudeau’s staunchest Liberal allies in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick into retirement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a closing press conference at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Dec. 1, 2018. Trudeau will host Canada’s provincial leaders in Montreal on Dec. 7 but the hand he brings to his fifth first ministers’ gathering is weak, Chantal Hébert writes.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a closing press conference at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Dec. 1, 2018. Trudeau will host Canada’s provincial leaders in Montreal on Dec. 7 but the hand he brings to his fifth first ministers’ gathering is weak, Chantal Hébert writes.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Some of the provincial leadership changes — starting with the advent in Ontario of a Tory government hostile to Trudeau’s plan to put a price on carbon pollution — have resulted in a major realignment in the federal-provincial climate-change debate.

The Conservative governments of Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick have joined what initially started off as a rearguard Saskatchewan legal battle against a federal carbon tax.

And Alberta’s NDP government — once a solid Trudeau ally — has withdrawn its support for the plan in protest over the stalled pipeline agenda.

From a fight mostly taking place in the Prairies, the battle over the federal climate change framework is now being fought on a variety of regional fronts. Trudeau’s gamble that more carbon pricing would make new pipelines more palatable and vice-versa is not panning out.

As the result of irreconcilable political differences over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion between Canada’s two NDP governments, a war of words, assorted with threats of trade retaliation, has erupted between Alberta and British Columbia.

The Alberta/B.C. bad blood over pipelines could yet spill over to central Canada as a result of a joint effort on the part of Conservative leaders and premiers to resuscitate the Energy East pipeline.

The defunct TransCanada project was very unpopular in Quebec and the province’s previous Liberal government was not sorry to see the company abandon it. Champions of the plan to link the Alberta oilfields to the Atlantic Coast believe it could yet be executed if only incoming Quebec premier François Legault would get on board.

But it is hard to think of a move that could do more to poison the well of the rookie Coalition Avenir Québec government than the premier jumping on the pipeline bandwagon.

The theme of Friday’s meeting is the economy with CUSMA, the just-signed NAFTA agreement, on the agenda. But inasmuch as the provincial and federal forces aligned against Trudeau’s climate-change policy are determined to fight carbon pricing on economic grounds, the issue is bound to overshadow the discussion.

It probably won’t help that a majority of Friday’s participants — starting with some of the remaining Trudeau-friendly premiers — are in delicate political positions.

Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta will all go to the polls over the next 12 months. The premiers of B.C. and New Brunswick both lead fragile minority governments whose life expectancy is uncertain.

Trudeau himself is in the last year of his first term. It is a time in the cycle when the reserve of political capital of a prime minister tends to be in dire need of an electoral refill. The hand he brings to his fifth first ministers gathering is weak — especially by comparison to the freshly elected premiers of Quebec and Ontario.

On that score the prime minister is fortunate that Legault and Doug Ford are not on the same page on carbon pricing. Or that the relationship between the two got off to a rocky start as a result of the Ontario premier’s treatment of the Franco-Ontarian community.

When the Liberals came to power three years ago, more than 80 per cent of Canadians lived in jurisdictions that already met or were well on the way to meeting the initial targets set in Trudeau’s climate-change strategy.

Since then, there has been a reversal of the trend, with the provinces that are non-compliant with the federal plan accounting for a majority of the population. And that means that next fall, Trudeau’s Liberals will be campaigning for re-election in those provinces against the backdrop of a recently introduced federal carbon tax.

One has to go back to the Meech Lake Accord in the late eighties to find the last provincial consensus on a policy central to the agenda of a prime minister and possibly to the fortunes of his party unravel in the way the first ministers’ support for Trudeau’s climate change approach has over the past three years.

The current prime minister’s climate-change framework is one of the most ambitious attempts at federal-provincial policy-making since Brian Mulroney’s spectacular constitutional failures. It may yet prove to be as polarizing.

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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