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Two men were ‘unlawfully’ held in a Toronto jail for weeks after they should have been released, lawyer says

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Two men spent weeks “unlawfully” detained in a Toronto jail after criminal court staff may have failed to notify the jail they should be released, according to their lawyer who argues the men were “functionally kidnapped” by the province.

Both men had been released from criminal custody — one on bail, one after all his charges were withdrawn — and should have immediately been transferred into the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency since they also faced deportation proceedings.

That transfer wasn’t done until weeks later, their lawyer says. In the meantime, the men were left in limbo at the Toronto South Detention Centre without the opportunity to argue for release through an immigration detention review hearing that should have occurred within 48 hours of the transfer.

It took the intervention of the men’s criminal and immigration lawyers to make the transfer happen.

“There was obviously some kind of communications breakdown and it’s leading to people being unlawfully detained,” said lawyer Kevin Wiener, who is representing both men in their immigration proceedings and in small claims lawsuits against the province.

One of the two men, Dwayne Powell, was arrested on Oct. 2 and charged with minor fraud-related charges. He was formally arrested by border services in jail the next day, due to an outstanding immigration arrest warrant.

He was granted bail on the criminal charges at the Brampton courthouse on Oct. 23 then returned to jail. He did not realize his case had not been transferred and that immigration detention reviews should be automatically done within 48 hours, Wiener said.

Powell began looking for a lawyer and met Wiener a month later, on Nov. 22. He had his first detention review hearing on Nov. 27 and was eventually released by the Immigration and Refugee Board on Dec. 11.

“(Powell) didn’t realize anything had gone wrong,” Wiener said.

But Wiener said he immediately knew what had happened because something similar had just happened to another client of his, Andre Dean.

Dean is now suing the province in small claims court for false imprisonment, negligence and breach of his charter rights. (Wiener said small claims court lawsuits proceed faster than civil court matters, though damages in small claims court matters are capped at $25,000 which is what Dean is seeking).

Dean was arrested on robbery-related charges in October 2016 and was in pretrial custody until his criminal charges were entirely withdrawn on Aug. 17, through plea agreements.

He would have been free to go at the end of his criminal matters had he not been also in the custody of the CBSA. It took until Sept. 6 for him to be formally transferred into immigration detention, according to a statement of defence filed by the province Tuesday. The statement of defence does not explain the delay.

Dean is now at Maplehurst, a jail where many immigration detainees are held, facing deportation hearings. He has not been released by the Immigration and Refugee Board, though he is able to have mandated regular detention reviews.

In its statement of defence, the province denies falsely imprisoning Dean and says even if it had “the damages owed by Ontario would be nominal as he had suffered no injury.” The province argues there has been no violation of Dean’s charter rights, including the right not to be deprived of liberty, and that if there was, it was justified.

“Ontario acted at all times reasonably, in good faith, and with appropriate regard for the plaintiff’s charter rights,” the document states.

A spokesperson said the Ministry of the Attorney General would not comment further on the matters because they are subject to litigation. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services said the matters fall under the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Wiener, who has also filed a notice of intent to sue on behalf of Powell, said that “by the government’s logic, you could tie someone up in your basement for three weeks and not owe them any money if they were also subject to an arrest warrant.”

After his criminal charges were withdrawn, “only the CBSA had authority to detain Mr. Dean, and only until the Immigration Division reviewed his detention,” Wiener said. “The provincial government unlawfully detained him for three weeks with no independent review. Mr. Dean’s current legal detention does not erase his damages from being functionally kidnapped by the government of Ontario.”

Wiener noted that even after the lawsuit had been filed, Dean was wrongly transported to the Guelph courthouse on Nov. 27, a week after his charges there had been withdrawn. That fact, he said, suggests a second communication breakdown between court staff and the jail.

Criminal charge-related releases are typically resolved prior to immigration detention reviews since the CBSA arrest does not come into effect until a criminal hold is over, Wiener said. But, he said, these two cases show that process can result in longer times in custody.

“The government needs to do the right thing for my clients and take immediate steps to make sure this never happens again,” he said.

Alyshah Hasham is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and court. Follow her on Twitter: @alysanmati or email her at ahasham@thestar.ca

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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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