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As convoy claims unity, some truckers experience fear and loathing on the yellow vest road

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PEMBROKE, ONT.—Before Nigel Pryke joined the convoy to Ottawa, he thought he was driving for unity.

Part of a southern Saskatchewan group of truckers that fell in with the convoy on Friday, he’s a member of a cross-country cavalcade calling Canadians from east to west to demonstrate at Parliament Hill on Tuesday. Representing his employer from the driver’s seat of a company truck participating in the procession, he’s technically on the job.

Nigel Pryke of Carnduff, Sask., cleans his truck during a stop in White River, Ont., during the United We Roll Convoy to Ottawa on Sunday.
Nigel Pryke of Carnduff, Sask., cleans his truck during a stop in White River, Ont., during the United We Roll Convoy to Ottawa on Sunday.  (Codie McLachlan/Star Edmonton)

The point of the protest, organizers say, is to show support for the country’s oil and gas industry by opposing the carbon tax and legislation thought to harm the sector, among other things.

And there’s the hitch.

Rallies held in towns and cities on the route have seen supporters — along with convoy vehicles, drivers and passengers — sporting signs and slogans calling for more than just support of the energy sector.

“I like the whole idea of the unity, Canadianness,” Pryke said Sunday afternoon while travelling down a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway between White River and Wawa, Ont. “But when I see hats that say ‘Make Canada Great Again,’ … well, that’s Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not Canadian,” he added.

“They’re basically running the show,” Pryke said of the convoy’s significant yellow vest contingent. ‘There’s so much of this out-and-out hatred for Trudeau that it’s getting in the way of everything.”

Two days before, Pryke recalled, he was enjoying himself with the Saskatchewan company climbing up to Virden, Man., a rally point on the route, where the smaller group was scheduled to join forces with the main train.

“I’m chatting to these people and then the guys from the convoy arrive,” he said. “I had no idea that the yellow vests were even involved. The whole feeling changed all of a sudden.”

Glen Carritt, a town councillor from Innisfail, Alta., and a convoy co-ordinator, speaks Sunday at a rally in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., during the United We Roll convoy to Ottawa, where a demonstration is to be held Tuesday.
Glen Carritt, a town councillor from Innisfail, Alta., and a convoy co-ordinator, speaks Sunday at a rally in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., during the United We Roll convoy to Ottawa, where a demonstration is to be held Tuesday.  (Codie McLachlan/Star Edmonton)

In mid-January, Glen Carritt, a councillor for the town of Innisfail, Alta., and lead co-ordinator of the convoy, changed the name of the event from the Yellow Vest (Official) Convoy to Ottawa to the United We Roll Convoy for Canada.

The event’s values, he explained Sunday following a rally in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., haven’t changed. The mission is to protest carbon pricing, and bills C-69 and C-48, which would change approval processes for energy projects and ban oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s northern coast. Needless to say, the convoy also packs a heavy pro-pipeline punch.

But another, more controversial, complaint that sets this convoy apart is its stance against the United Nations migration compact.

Since appearing in Canada by way of France, the yellow vest movement has been accused of taking an anti-immigrant position against the compact — an intergovernmental agreement to regulate migration in light of factors that have led to its growth, such as climate change.

Despite the fact that the agreement is not legally binding, members of the movement, including those participating in the convoy, claim it weakens Canadian borders and threatens the country’s sovereignty and security, touting as much in their signs and statements.

“We’re worried about more criminals coming into the country,” Carritt said.

Shortly before he rebranded the event, a coalition of oil and gas advocates tried to organize a similar convoy — one focused specifically on the industry, while rejecting any association to the yellow vest movement. But they cancelled it, claiming it was “no longer viable” due to “unexpected challenges associated with the event.”

Citing a “lack of professionalism” in the online forum used to promote and support the convoy under the yellow vest name, Carritt said the rebrand was born from an interest to open up the event to more people.

Denis Findlay holds a sign proclaiming "Trudeau for Prison" in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, during the United We Roll convoy to Ottawa Sunday.
Denis Findlay holds a sign proclaiming « Trudeau for Prison » in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, during the United We Roll convoy to Ottawa Sunday.  (Codie McLachlan/Star Edmonton)

“It felt like the name may be holding us back,” he explained. “This allowed everybody, including yellow vests, to be involved in this movement.

The website for the convoy notes that anyone is allowed to join. But that invitation has also opened the door to anyone willing to make the trip.

At the Sault Ste. Marie rally on Sunday night, a crowd, including a small child, chanted “Trudeau sucks.” One man wore a yellow vest with the words “flush the turd 2019” written on the back. Like the varied sea of horns that announce every convoy departure, the complaints from the crowd were as varied, and almost as loud.

Carritt acknowledged that the open invite could convolute the convoy’s message, and said he doesn’t support the negativity found at rallies like the one in Sault Ste. Marie. But he said he has no control over how people choose to express themselves in the movement.

The messages from the sidelines have also been diffuse, with those standing along the highway waving everything from the sort of signs found at rallies, to Canadian flags, yellow vests, hockey jerseys and posters of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

From his vantage point, Pryke said he recognizes that the yellow vests are inextricably linked to this demonstration (both in the convoy and alongside it), but he’s trying to find the silver lining for a trip that took an unexpected turn early on.

Despite the fact that yellow vests are “very much part of the mesh of the convoy,” Pryke said he finds comfort in the support he’s seen from the sidelines, almost every step of the way.

Supporters cheer on truckers along the Trans-Canada Highway during the United We Roll convoy to Ottawa on Saturday.
Supporters cheer on truckers along the Trans-Canada Highway during the United We Roll convoy to Ottawa on Saturday.  (Codie McLachlan/Star Edmonton)

“I don’t think the yellow vest message is the message of a lot of these people standing on the highway,” he said between Wawa and Sault Ste. Marie, a stretch of road that drivers on the radio repeatedly flag as treacherous.

Near Batchawana Bay, 50 kilometres out from the Sault, supporters launched a stream of fireworks for the drivers.

Tugging on the leather braided strap on his left, Pryke honked his horn in gratitude, like he does for every other show of encouragement seen along the way.

“I’m riding this wave,” he said. “All of this good feeling I’m getting from these people standing beside the roads.”

Hamdi Issawi is an Edmonton-based reporter covering the environment and energy. Follow him on Twitter: @hamdiissawi

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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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