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SNC-Lavalin and Trudeau: A primer on the controversy

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The SNC-Lavalin scandal rocked Canadian politics this past week, culminating in the resignation of Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on Tuesday.

But the scandal itself is complicated and has many implications.

Here’s a breakdown of the issues at play.

What does SNC-Lavalin do?

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SNC-Lavalin is an engineering and construction firm based in Montreal and was once considered one of the top engineering companies in the world.

Its work has included government contracts, mining, transportation and infrastructure. It gained a reputation for building a large dam in Quebec that spearheaded the province’s development of hydroelectricity and for developing the skill sets for thousands of Quebec workers.


READ MORE:
Despite scandals, SNC-Lavalin viewed as crown jewel in Quebec: professor

It is still considered a crown jewel in Quebec, according to business experts.

According to its website, it was founded in 1911 and it employs 50,000 people around the world, including over 8,500 in Canada.

WATCH: David Lametti discusses the importance of AG role amid SNC-Lavalin controversy






What are the criminal charges?

In 2015, the RCMP charged SNC-Lavalin, along with its international division, with corruption and fraud in relation with their business dealings in Libya.

The RCMP said officials at the company attempted to bribe several public officials in the country, including dictator Moammar Gadhafi, as well as other businesses in Libya.

RCMP officials said SNC-Lavalin also lied to Libyan companies to defraud them of nearly $130 million.

If convicted, the company would be barred from bidding on federal projects for 10 years, and current federal contracts would be in jeopardy.

FROM THE ARCHIVE: RCMP lay fraud, corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin in 2015






What is the Prime Minister’s Office accused of doing?

SNC-Lavalin attempted to avoid a trial for the criminal charges, but in October, back when Wilson-Raybould was Canada’s attorney general and justice minister, federal prosecutors refused to negotiate a deal under a newly passed remediation agreement regime.

The remediation regime became law through Bill C-74 in June 2018 and would have imposed a fine in exchange for abandoning court proceedings. It allows corporations to skip a conviction and keep bidding on federal projects, which could protect the company from layoffs and financial troubles.

In a bombshell report, the Globe and Mail alleged SNC-Lavalin lobbied the PMO’s office to secure the remediation agreement.

The report said Wilson-Raybould was pressured to get federal prosecutors to change their refusal to negotiate remediation, but she was unwilling.

Trudeau called the allegations in the Globe report “false” and said no one in his office “directed” Wilson-Raybould to make any decision, but refused to comment when asked whether there had been any broader “influence” efforts


READ MORE:
What Justin Trudeau has said about the SNC-Lavalin controversy


SNC-Lavalin filed an application for a review of the decision on remediation in October.

Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of her position as justice minister and attorney general and made Minister of Veterans Affairs in January. Quebec MP David Lametti replaced her.

The ethics commissioner of Canada is looking into whether there was political interference in the case.

Other scandals

In 2011, an SNC employee whose job was to facilitate travel of SNC employees in and out of Libya was arrested in Mexico and accused of attempting to smuggle Gadhafi’s son and family out of the country. The employee was eventually released from jail and not charged in Canada.

In Switzerland, an ex-senior employee from SNC-Lavalin pleaded guilty to fraud, corruption and money laundering in relation to his business in Libya in 2014 — before the RCMP charges. Riadh Ben Aissa acknowledged in court that he bribed Saadi Gadhafi, son of Libya’s late dictator Moammar Gadhafi, so SNC could win contracts.

The company was also banned from bidding on projects by the World Bank for 10 years over alleged misconduct during a bridge construction contract in Panama. During an investigation from CBC and the Globe and Mail, it was alleged there was an internal accounting code for bribes. Officials were charged with fraud, but they were acquitted after a judge threw out wiretap evidence.

Closer to home, three top executives were also charged with bribery in relation to the McGill University Health Centre. Former CEO Pierre Duhaime, along with McGill officials, pleaded guilty in the case.

FROM THE ARCHIVE: SNC-Lavalin to reimburse municipalities, agencies in 2016






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

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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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‘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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