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Manslaughter trial of Ottawa police officer charged in Abdirahman Abdi’s death to begin Monday

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The high-profile criminal trial of Ottawa police constable Daniel Montsion is set to begin Monday, two and a half years after Abdirahman Abdi died following an altercation with city police outside his apartment building in Hintonburg.

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) charged Montsion in 2017 with manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon, following an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the 37-year-old Somali-Canadian man’s death in 2016,

WATCH: Ottawa police officer charged with manslaughter in death of Abdirahman Abdi





Police were dispatched on the morning of July 24, 2016, in response to reports of “multiple assaults” at a coffee shop west of downtown Ottawa. After attempting to make an arrest, officers chased Abdi on foot and a struggle ensued in front of his apartment building on Hilda Street.

In its statement announcing the charges laid against Montsion in 2017, the provincial police watchdog said there was “an interaction” between Montsion, another police officer and Abdi that Sunday morning and Abdi “went into medical distress.”


READ MORE:
New video shows aftermath of Abdirahman Abdi arrest

Video footage recorded after the confrontation showed a handcuffed, bloodied and unconscious Abdi lying on the ground. He died in hospital the next day.

Family, friends and the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition have described Abdi as someone who had mental health challenges but who was not violent.

His death sent shock waves throughout the Ottawa community and across Canada, sparking questions about racial profiling, police brutality and mental health supports, and prompting demands for police training reform.


READ MORE:
Pleas for better police training blend with tears at funeral of Abdirahman Abdi

Montsion’s trial begins Feb. 4 and has been scheduled for a three-month period. Montsion is being represented by well-known Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Edelson.

Both Edelson and Philip Perlmutter, the Toronto Crown prosecutor assigned to the case, declined to speak with Global News ahead of Monday’s trial.

The Ottawa Police Association did not respond to a request for comment.


READ MORE:
Black Lives Matter shut down Yonge-Dundas Square to protest death of Ottawa man

A community vigil and candlelit walk was held Friday night in Abdi’s memory and to inform the public on how they may support Abdi’s family during the trial period.

“Nearly three years later, the injustice and pain of Abdirahman’s death continues to ripple through his family and his community,” a description for the event read.

As support rallied around Abdi’s relatives in the aftermath of his death, so it did around Montsion after the SIU laid charges against him.

In late March 2017, it was reported that black and blue rubber bracelets were being purchased and worn by members of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) in solidarity with the criminally charged officer.


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Police wristbands cause controversy as cop faces manslaughter charge

The bands were inscribed with the words “united we stand” followed by Montsion’s badge number on the outside, and “divided we fall” on the inside.

Ottawa’s disbanded community police advisory group expressed concern at the time that the bracelets were causing needless tension and division as Montsion’s case progressed through the courts.

The president of the Ottawa Police Association said in the response that the wristbands were not part of the OPS uniform and officers would not wear them while on duty.

– With a file from The Canadian Press

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

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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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Anglais

Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar is the Latest to Hatch in West Island’s Bubbling Restaurant Scene

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Wings are the thing at the latest restaurant to make its mark on Montreal’s West Island: Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar.

At the buzzy new Dollard-Des Ormeaux eatery, the bird limbs come aplenty, with a menu listing eleven “wet & messy” wings, including smoked apple habanero, sriracha lime, and cherry cola BBQ; and four — cacio e pepe, ketchups chip, Nashville hot, and the garlicky, lemon pepper “vampire slayer” — dry rub flavours. They come 10 for $18 or 20 for $34, plus the option of ranch, parmesan, or blue cheese dipping sauce.

Tacos, nachos, poutines (one made with bone marrow, another with tater tots), smashed burgers, salads, and a classic buttermilk fried chicken dinner are just sampling of the other dishes that round out the offering. On the drinks side, there are cocktails, sangrias, and spiked milkshakes in popular chocolate bar flavours: After Eight, Skor, Bounty, or Reeses.

Opened on July 5, Birdhouse is among a recent influx of restaurants to grace the island’s western end, including birria taco slinger Tacos Don Rigo and barbecue joint Smoke Box — a double whammy in the same Pierrefonds area strip mall. That comes in addition to plans for Fairview Pointe Claire’s incoming “District Gourmand” (slated to usher in Tommy Café), and, of course, a number of the area’s longer-standing stalwarts — from southern belle Bistro Nolah to old-school casse-croûte Smoked Meat Pete — that have helped bolster the West Island’s culinary credentials.

The brand-new Brunswick Boulevard restaurant is the brainchild of Montreal entrepreneur Lorne Schwartz, restaurateur George Massouras (of Madisons and Arahova Souvlaki), and among the other partners involved, Brahm Mauer, son of the founder of beloved buffalo hot wings expert Wings ‘n’ Things. Mauer has tried his hand at reviving the original Wings ‘n’ Things recipe — the restaurant originally opened in 1986 — over the years, including with a Royalmount Avenue location in 2012, then as a roaming summertime food truck and NDG pop-up. That same truck has now been made over with a Birdhouse-branded livery to be deployed for private events.

A likely draw to many, Birdhouse is reprising the “famous flavours, untouched” of the once-upon-a-time NDG staple, represented on its menu as “The Legendary WNT Buffalo” chicken wing.

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