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COMMENTARY: The case for not naming those not yet convicted of crimes – National

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In the business of talk radio, and opinion journalism generally, you’re always on the lookout for “talkers” — stories that are accessible enough to the public to be interesting to many people, and important enough to hold their attention. In early December, the York Regional Police, a regional service in the Greater Toronto Area, handed us a hell of a talker.

Frustrated by stubbornly high impaired driving rates, the York police had decided to begin naming-and-shaming those charged with impaired driving offences. Read what I said carefully there — charged with offences. Not convicted of them. York Region is far from the first to do this. Most of the other Toronto-area forces already do, at least selectively, and some have been doing so for years. But the decision by York to begin naming and shaming still provoked a lot of debate.

READ MORE: York police name drivers charged with impaired driving 

But it was, I think, the wrong one.

The debate we had was whether York should be identifying people who are merely accused of impaired driving, even though they haven’t been convicted yet. I had a lot of passionate responses from listeners on my show, protesting how outrageous this is, since accused drunk drivers are innocent until proven guilty. I confess I was baffled. We publicly name accused people — still innocent under the law — all the time. York Region was reversing a double exception: it was the rare GTA force that wasn’t already naming drunks, and drunks themselves were an exception to the norm of naming those arrested and charged for other crimes.

That’s when the absurdity of the entire debate hit me. This isn’t about whether we should be naming drunk drivers in one region of a million souls. The issue was actually vastly more fundamental. Should we be naming anyone accused but not yet convicted of a crime?

And I think the answer is no.

You might not believe this, given the above, but I’ve always thought of myself as a law-and-order guy. Tough on crime, from a family with a long history of police service. I still think of myself that way. But I also recognize that there are two major changes happening right now.

READ MORE: Google heads to Europe’s top court to fight order to remove search results worldwide

Google, for starters, has an awfully long memory. News is now permanent. Get yourself arrested and charged and there’s a very good chance that a record of that is going to be available online forever. But while the news may be effectively permanent now, a reporter’s attention to any particular case is not. The fact that you’re arrested has a much better chance of making the news, or a web database, than most of what comes next.

The charges could be dropped or stayed, you could be acquitted, you could be convicted of a lesser offence, but none of this is likely to be as accessible to the public. We already know that incarceration has massively negative impacts on one’s future employment prospects. I worry that a mere arrest, only the first part of a legal process all of us are owed, will become the only real public record of an offence, with potentially devastating impacts on one’s life no matter what comes after that arrest.

I’m not the first to notice this problem. The European Union and Argentina have enacted controversial “right to be forgotten” laws designed, in part, to address this very issue — making sure one’s first Google hit forever is not a report of some minor crime. It’s an awkward and imperfect attempt to address the real problem I’m describing, but it’s also complicated. My solution is easier — not reporting on mere accusations, and not publicly naming the accused, will solve this issue more effectively.

WATCH BELOW: Three things drivers need to know about new impaired driving law






There’s also the issue that our legal system is so dysfunctional that the dysfunction itself now acts as a form of extralegal punishment. Canadian courts are obscenely overloaded, clogged up with too many cases and massive delays. The causes of this are complex; I won’t get into them at length here. But it’s now routine to read about some accused criminal or another having a court appearance for routine matters and then, at the end, the next appearance is booked more than a full calendar year later. That’s absolutely insane. These people are not guilty yet under the law. They are innocent until proven guilty, but it might take them months or even years to get the chance to clear their name. In the meantime, they’re accused and unable to defend themselves pending a court system that is failing all of us, stranded in legal limbo. This itself is punitive, especially because the public will only know that they have been charged, and won’t wait around for a verdict years later before deciding if they are a bad guy.

The grim reality is this: “innocent until proven guilty” is a talking point we all pay lip service to, but most us don’t really buy into it. About a year ago, a man in my neighbourhood was accused of a serious crime — a very serious one. And I’m confident the Crown will make the case. But the mood in the community was that that’s just a formality. “String him up now” was the attitude of more than one person I talked to. When I pointed out that he wasn’t convicted of anything yet, I was treated as little better than an accomplice. Yes, it’s true the crime was terrible, involving children. But fundamental legal rights have to apply to everyone, all the time, or else they’re neither rights or fundamental.

To put it more bluntly: we would all demand the presumption of innocence for ourselves, while most would have no desire to extend that courtesy to others. It’s just not how we’re wired. We’re more inclined to form a posse than a jury. It’s our nature, and we need to recognize that nature, and work our way around it. Granting anonymity to virtually all accused criminals until they’re convicted is a recognition that despite our stated ideals, most of us really do assume that charged is as good as guilty.

WATCH BELOW: York regional police begins naming drivers charged with impaired driving






I haven’t come to this conclusion lightly. I have two major objections to my own point. The first: I work in the media. It’s our job to learn and report. Media companies, Global News included, routinely go to court to get more information on criminal proceedings. It is weird for me to be arguing for less information to be publicly released, and I’m sure my reporter colleagues are wondering what the hell I’m drinking as I write this (lukewarm Diet Pepsi, for the record).

The other issue is narrower but more important: you may have noticed I fudged one of my own bold declarations above just a tiny bit. I said we should grant “anonymity to virtually all accused criminals.” (Emphasis added.) I’m a pragmatist. There are sometimes very good reasons to release the name of an accused, and perhaps even a mugshot. It can be hugely helpful for law enforcement when they need the public’s help with their investigation, especially when there’s the possibility of more victims, including some that may still be in danger. And there will certainly be times when the police are looking for a suspect they don’t have in custody yet, and release details about that person to assist in their search. I can’t in good conscience argue that that’s a bad thing.

So what I’m proposing is that we withhold publicly naming those accused of crimes until they’re convicted, unless there’s a pressing law enforcement need to publicize that information. The courts would probably be best placed to make that call in the same way they already review search warrant requests.

It’s not a perfect solution. It couldn’t apply evenly to all accused, and there are genuine issues regarding free expression and freedom of the press. I am reluctant to make this proposal. I’m not sure I’ve entirely convinced myself.

But on balance, I think this is still something we need to do, and the sooner the better. And if you felt even the slightest unease when you heard York Region was going to begin naming and shaming accused drunk drivers, you probably agree with me, at least in part.

Matt Gurney is host of The Exchange with Matt Gurney on Global News Radio 640 Toronto and a columnist for Global News.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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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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