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Has #MeToo sparked an era of women falsely accusing men? No, and that’s why we still take elevators




What is the future of #MeToo?

If you want to stop reading right there, I won’t blame you. It is hard to find another recent story that has garnered so many words, such debate, angst and politicking. I apologize for adding more.

But when asked by the Toronto Star to write a companion #MeToo column, the temptation was too great. Full disclosure: the Star’s Vinay Menon, who wrote the other column, is a good friend of mine. We once had a lively debate about Jordan Peterson. We agreed to disagree.

Thing is, this just doesn’t seem, as Vinay opines, #MoreComplicated.

There is a familiar pattern to how both men and women warn about the dangerous fallout of #MeToo. The columns usually start with a couple caveats: Of course this movement was needed to give voice to sexual abuse victims; Harvey Weinstein was obviously a predator, and, thank heavens, he has been stopped.

Good. Now, let’s move on to the “buts.”

But … what about men who say they now have to worry about being on elevators with women?

Read more:

Opinion | Vinay Menon: #MeToo won’t last if it isn’t fair

That was the breaking news this summer in a flurry of gender-Armageddon articles. These men are “genuinely worried,” according to a National Post story, that a woman could “ride the elevator with you for 20 seconds or so, then accuse you on Twitter the next day of groping them.”

Gentlemen, the fear is real. Just yesterday, one of my editors gave me a Tim Hortons with cream and sugar. I asked for milk. What a rapist. I took to social media to denounce that caffeine pervert, saying he grabbed my breast. #DoubleDoubleDick.

I’m kidding, obviously. I don’t drink Tim Hortons.

But the idea that #MeToo has ushered in a terrifying new era of women falsely accusing men of sexual abuse, is based on the underlying principle that women belong to a hysterical, vindictive tribe, hell bent on destroying lives, while a chorus of sisters belt out “You go, girl!” That just hasn’t happened.

Which brings us to Aziz Ansari, who was skewered in a controversial 3,000-word online column penned by an unidentified 23-year-old who characterized their date as “the worst night of my life.” As Vinay writes, the piece “did not dovetail with the spirit and exhaustive reportage of so many 2017 investigations.” Exactly. This is why it was published on, not the New York Times or the New Yorker, whose brilliant journalism was the kindle for the #MeToo fire.

Was Aziz Ansari ruined? I’m sure he is happy to see 2018 behind him, but he recently announced a 28-show North American theatre run. In February, he will headline Vancouver’s Just For Laughs.

Closer to home, Vinay raises the case of TVO’s Steve Paikin, accused by former Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson of sexually propositioning her over a lunch meeting. I know Steve through journalism circles. The allegations were hard to believe and when I saw him at an event, I gave him a hug. It was evident just how difficult the experience had been.

But Steve was cleared by an independent investigation, is back hosting the show he loves, and it is Thomson’s reputation that took a hit.

In defending himself, Steve wrote: “the #MeToo movement is too important to be undermined by spurious allegations.” He’s right and that is exactly why a handful of false allegations should not derail the movement, throwing us back into the dark after we’ve seen the light.

#MeToo didn’t invent false accusations, and it certainly is not the first time that the court of public opinion has acted as judge, jury and executioner. For women, especially those with public careers, ignoring spurious attacks on their character has just become part of the job. Take a swim in the cesspool of social media and risk being pulled under by the riptides of ignorance.

When I was reporting at the Toronto Star, readers who disagreed with my articles (which were about terrorism, not feminism) would regularly denounce me with sexual or demeaning comments, allege conspiracies on my “fake news” reporting, and a precious few even said they hoped I would get raped or killed on my next foreign assignment.

This wasn’t abuse by men, but by dangerous misogynists, who are hopefully among those now most bothered by #MeToo.

But looking back over this year, it was the Supreme Court hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, and the ensuing #HimToo “movement,” which really embodied where we are today and why it is so important to not “exhale and poke holes” into #MeToo, as Vinay suggests, but to push forward.

Like many women I know, I surprised myself by crying while listening to Christine Blasey Ford testify. It wasn’t so much her allegations — as devastating as they were — but the way she comported herself, her obvious discomfort, her deep respect for the proceedings, and most heart-breaking, her seeming need to please those gathered in that Capitol Hill room.

Contrast that with Kavanaugh’s disrespectful, feverish and bullying demeanour. Forget the allegations, his performance should have disqualified him to sit in the highest court of the land. If he were a woman, it may have.

Those hearings made all of us look inward and re-examine our past and present relationships. No one likes to be cornered, and, perhaps even subconsciously, to feel defensive about what we once believed was an acceptable norm.

Comedian Louis CK may not have said sorry in his apology letter, but he did say something that resonates for women: “When you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.”

Thankfully, just as there is not a vengeful tribe of women armed with false accusations, men are not rampantly whipping out their willies for show-and-don’t-tell. But he’s right, in the sense that women are often left to second-guess their actions: rebuff a boss’s advance, and wonder how it may affect your job or reputation; have a relationship, and face accusations of sleeping your way to the top.

But we haven’t stopped riding elevators.

For those anxious men, it is not the #MeToo movement that they need to question, but their own relationships with women.

If you’re still afraid guys, take the stairs please.

Michelle Shephard is a journalist, author and filmmaker and the Toronto Star’s former National Security Reporter. Follow her @shephardm.


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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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