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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffles cabinet, Philpott takes over as Treasury Board president

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OTTAWA—In an election-year cabinet shuffle, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has put Toronto-area MP Jane Philpott at the helm of government spending and operations, sealing her reputation as a fixer in Justin Trudeau’s government.

Trudeau called Philpott a “natural choice” for the role of President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government, the third cabinet spot held by the MP for Markham-Stouffville—following stints in health and Indigenous services.

Philpott, a physician first elected in 2015, was vice-chair of the central agency and her shift confirms she is seen as a capable and steady hand at the cabinet table.

Trudeau’s surprise move was Jody Wilson-Raybould’s appointment as veterans affairs minister, moving from justice, where she was the first Indigenous woman to hold the porfolio, to a line department where dealing with the sensitive issue of veterans’ compensation is key.

Wilson-Raybould said she was “honoured” to take up her new post, and not disappointed. “I would say there is no world in which I would consider working for our veterans of Canada a demotion.”

Seamus O’Regan shifts out of veterans affairs to take Philpott’s place as Minister of Indigenous Affairs, taking on challenging issues facing Indigenous people, such as chronic water problems on reserves.

Quebec MP David Lametti, an Oxford, Yale and McGill grad and former law professor at McGill University, becomes justice minister. Trudeau said his promotion of the current parliamentary secretary for innovation, science and economic development shows the depth of expertise in his caucus.

Trudeau defended his moves, insisting Wilson-Raybould was not demoted. He stressed that Indigenous services and veterans affairs files are two of his government’s highest priorities and require a deft touch — which he said both Wilson-Raybould and O’Regan have.

“Seamus’s compassion and advocacy will help us as we walk the road of reconciliation with our Indigenous partners…I know he will work tirelessly…to bring about real change for Indigenous communities in this country.”

“Indigenous services and veterans affairs are two areas in which direct delivery by the federal government needs to be done right and is an important responsibility.”

Trudeau referred to O’Regan having grown up in Labrador and his demonstrated ability to show “compassion.”

“Reconciliation is not just about a government and Indigenous people, it’s also very much around non-Indigenous Canadians doing their part as well and that’s something that we recognize,” said Trudeau outside Rideau Hall.

Read more:

Ottawa abuzz with speculation about Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle

Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison resigning from cabinet, won’t seek re-election

Philpott urges doctors to help improve health of Canada’s ‘most vulnerable people’

Bernadette Jordan, who represents a rural Nova Scotia riding, becomes minister of rural economic development, a new cabinet position, signaling a new focus by the Liberals on rural issues. She will be tasked with developing a national strategy for rural development as well as plans to extend broadband internet to rural areas.

Trudeau said her appointment shows his government is taking a “new approach” to rural issues.

Jordan, first elected in 2015 in the riding of South Shore-St. Margaret’s, was chair of the Liberals’ Atlantic caucus and previously worked for eight years at a foundation that raises money for local health services in Bridgewater, N.S.

Philpott became the first-ever Indigenous Services minister when she was shuffled from the health portfolio in the summer of 2017. The new department was created to oversee responsibilities of the former Indigenous and Northern Affairs department, as well as some services previously provided by Health Canada.

Philpott took over the role as Ottawa committed billions of dollars to health services, child welfare programs, housing and other infrastructure on First Nations’ reserves and in Indigenous communities.

Philpott was responsible for pursuing the high-profile Liberal promise to eliminate “long-term drinking water advisories”—warnings about unsafe drinking water that are in place for at least a year—on reserves across Canada.

So far, Indigenous Services says 78 of these advisories have been lifted since the Trudeau government took power in 2015. The goal is to eliminate the remaining 62 advisories by March 2021.

Last June, Philpott announced changes to how the government would approve funding for Indigenous children’s orthodontic work. The move came after an uproar over a case in which the government spent more than $110,000 to fight a $6,000 bill for a teenage girl’s braces.

Philpott was also tasked with working to transfer authority for services from the federal government to Indigenous groups. In December, alongside leaders from Canada’s three national Indigenous organizations, Philpott announced coming legislation to reform child welfare for these communities. She said the bill would end decades of “discriminatory policies” and keep more Indigenous children in their home communities.

In an ongoing case, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has repeatedly ruled the lack of funding for Canada’s child welfare system for First Nations children is discriminatory.

O’Regan will now assume responsibility for these initiatives. The Newfoundland MP and former journalist moves from the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio, which he has held since August 2017 when he took over from Calgary MP Kent Hehr.

As Veterans’ Affairs Minister, O’Regan took heat from opposition Conservatives. Last year, he was blasted in the House of Commons after his department approved payments to cover PTSD treatment for a Halifax man who murdered an off-duty police officer.

He was also forced to stickhandle the fallout of an accounting error that shortchanged pension payments for disabled veterans by $165 million between 2003 and 2010.

There has also been a backlash against the Liberal’s $3.6-billion plan to provide lifelong pensions to disabled veterans. The changes give more money to severely disabled veterans but the plan has been criticized for falling short on payments to many former soldiers compared with a previous pension scheme that was abolished in 2006.

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga

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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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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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