New Canadian Media
Friday, 27 November 2015 12:07

Canada Must Resettle Refugees In Small Towns

By Don Curry in North Bay, Ontario

If you got all your news from our national TV networks and CBC Radio, you would think that all the refugees are arriving in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal. That is not the case.

What the national media is largely missing is the fact that Syrian refugees will also be heading to small and mid-sized centres across Canada.

A few thousand refugees arriving in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver will hardly be noticed, but a family or two arriving in a small centre has the potential to transform that municipality in an extremely positive fashion.

Energizing and transforming Northern Ontario

In North Bay Ontario, where I live, Mayor Al McDonald’s leadership has created a groundswell of support for Syrian refugees. 

With coordination provided by the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre, almost $50,000 has been raised and volunteer committees have been formed to ease the transition for two large Syrian refugee families coming to our city. There is a possibility of two more families being sponsored by church groups.

In nearby West Nipissing, more individuals are fundraising to sponsor a family. Up the highway in Temiskaming Shores there is yet another group. The same is happening further north in Englehart and Timmins. The populations of these centres are 54,000, 14,000, 10,400, 1,500 and 43,000, respectively.

A family or two arriving in a small centre has the potential to transform that municipality.

Add large Syrian families in to the mix (we’re talking six to 10 children) and they will be noticed. Based on the incredible community support I have witnessed in North Bay, despite the naysayers, these families will be welcomed, supported, mentored and nurtured. While North Bay and Timmins have mosques, these families could well be the first Muslims in the smaller communities.

That can be transformational for the communities. 

Northern Ontario has a challenge with baby boomer retirements, low birth rate and a youth diaspora. Without sustained immigration, jobs will go unfilled and communities will slowly decline.

I had lunch with a prominent immigrant entrepreneur recently and he said we should be bringing 2,000 families to North Bay, not two, or four. I told him we don’t have the capacity to successfully integrate 2,000 at once, but I got his point. Northern Ontario needs people, and Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver have too many. 

Resettlement strategies in these communities are vital

Federal and provincial governments have to get their heads around a strategy to settle refugees and immigrants in the smaller centres across Canada. To keep settling newcomers in the big cities when the jobs are elsewhere makes no sense.

Mayors in smaller centres have to embrace immigration and lobby for more resources to support successful integration. I see them doing that in New Brunswick, which demographically bears a lot of similarities to Northern Ontario.

Manitoba’s smaller centres have had successful immigration strategies for years but the remainder of the country needs to wake up. Manitoba normally receives about 1,500 refugees a year, the highest per capita of any province, and is prepared to double that number to up to 3,000 Syrian refugees.

The Syrian refugees coming to Northern Ontario are through the blended sponsorship program supported by the Mennonite Central Committee based in St. Catharines. Private sponsors pay 60 per cent of the cost for the family’s first year in Canada and the federal government pays 40 per cent.

These families could well be the first Muslims in the smaller communities.

The most vulnerable are at the top of the list, so we are not expecting professionals and skilled trades people who can walk right in to an available job. However, the children can learn English quickly, catch up in school and contribute to society in reasonably short order. Success breeds success, and more families could follow.

Chris Friesen, director of settlement services for the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia, has been on the national news regularly as the Syrian refugee situation unfolds. Normally he says all the right things, except for one evening when he was commenting about B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s wishes to have Syrian refugees settled across B.C.—not just in Vancouver and its suburbs.

Friesen said that won’t work because all the necessary services such as language classes, specialized medical care and trauma counselling are not available. In my view, he is just plain wrong.

Those services do exist in smaller centres; where they don’t, they can be accessed remotely. I saw one piece about a refugee waiting seven months to get in to a language class. In North Bay and other smaller centres, we can get them in class in a day.

Volunteers will arrange one-on-one intensive language tutoring and enrol refugees in online Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) training supported by the federal government.

For Friesen to say smaller communities can’t do it is wrong, and good for Premier Clark for telling him so. It’s time for other premiers and mayors to speak out and create support in all provinces for spreading the load of refugee settlement and integration across their entire provinces.


Don Curry is the Executive Director of the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre, and Co-Chair of the North Bay Newcomer Network Local Immigration Partnership Initiative and the Timmins Local Immigration Partnership.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary

ONTARIO Premier Kathleen Wynne announced on Tuesday that she will lead her first mission to India from January 27 to February 6. Wynne said: “To stand out in today’s highly competitive global economy, Ontario must promote its strengths on the world stage. Our businesses have a great deal to offer, as India focuses on […]

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 A mosque in the Central Ontario town of Peteborough was set on fire on Saturday night and Zahid Sultan, vice-president of the local Muslim association, told the media that police were treating it as a hate crime. Police have gathered evidence from the site. Sultan told the media that a flammable bottle of liquid was […]

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KITCHENER, Ontario: Organized by the SikhMuseum.com, in collaboration with the Golden Triangle Sikh Association and the local Sikh community, the annual Sikh Remembrance Day Ceremony was held on Sunday, November 8 at the grave site of Pvt. Buckam Singh in Kitchener’s Mount Hope Cemetery. “This yearly ceremony is an opportunity for Canadians to honour the […]

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The Art Gallery of Ontario’s latest exhibition is a tribute to one of the most celebrated English painters, J.M.W. Turner. Snip: “Featuring more than 50 paintings and works on paper on loan from Tate Britain, J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free is the first major exhibition to focus on the final and most experimental phase of the […] 

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Published in Arts & Culture
Thursday, 15 October 2015 17:26

'When It Came to Sex Ed, My Parents Failed Me'

 By Marika Morris in Ottawa

Do you know how I first found out about sex? I was eight years old and a Muslim classmate from Pakistan, who was also eight, told me. 

It had nothing to do with her being Muslim or from South Asia. She was just the one who happened to see her neighbours having sex in their backyard.

When I was 11, I got my period for the first time. I told my father and his face flushed red; he quickly left the room, muttering under his breath.

I went to my mother and asked about sex. l could tell she would rather be on the moon than having that conversation with me. 

Those parents who think that schools have no role in sexual education and that kids should learn only from their parents must realize three things: first, not all parents are comfortable talking about these matters with their children. Second, not all children feel comfortable asking questions of their parents. And third, your kids will probably learn about sex from the Internet or their friends before they ever hear about it from either you or school. 

Not all parents are comfortable talking about these matters with their children.

My father's approach — saying nothing — did not help me. My mother's approach, stressing that sex should only happen in marriage and that women must submit to men (her words), did not protect me. I was sexually assaulted when I was 17.

The person who did this was going to university, was from a "good family", and I was not alone with him — there were other people around. 

My mother never prepared me for situations of coercion. After it happened, I didn’t feel I could tell her about it, as her whole approach to the issue was one of sexual morality.

The importance of Ontario's sex ed curriculum 

Perhaps as a result of my experiences, I went on to work in the field of violence against women and children. I have met many adults who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, people from all cultures and walks of life. 

The one thing a majority of them have in common is that the abuse was perpetrated by a family member, a family friend or a person in a position of authority, including religious authorities. With almost all of them, they were too ashamed or embarrassed to tell anybody about it at the time or the person had threatened to hurt them or a family member if they told. 

The Ontario sex ed curriculum is based on research about what helps to protect kids and teens from sexual abuse and sexual assault. The curriculum aims to teach them that their private parts are indeed private and no one has the right to touch them without permission. If anyone does, the child should tell a trusted adult.

We live in a hyper-sexualized culture.

Parents who think that withdrawing older kids from the curriculum will somehow stop them from going into puberty, developing sexual feelings, and being curious about sexuality will be in for a big surprise. The United States has the fewest sex ed programs and consequently the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world. 

We live in a hyper-sexualized culture. Our kids see it on TV, in the movies and on the Internet. Even if you try to shield your kids from the culture around them, they will experience it by speaking with their peers. When school curricula stress that sex isn't just pleasure, that it comes with responsibility, young people tend to delay sexual activity and are better prepared to protect themselves when they do engage in it.

In Québec, the fact that these matters of human rights and respect are embedded in the sex ed curriculum is so important that parents are not allowed to withdraw their kids from those classes on religious, cultural or any other grounds. However, in Ontario parents may withdraw their kids if they so wish. Many times when they choose to it is a result of confusion over what the curriculum actually says

Support from the majority

The biggest hurdle for parents who oppose the curriculum is getting it overturned because the majority of Ontario parents support it, including Muslims for Ontario’s Health and Physical Education Curriculum. It’s very difficult for parents in some neighbourhoods to imagine, but there are no protests taking place outside most Ontario schools. 

The latest poll shows that 49 per cent of Ontarians approve of the revised curriculum, while about a third disapprove (37 per cent). Approval is higher among mothers of kids under 18 (54 per cent) and higher among the most highly educated (60 per cent).

I want my daughter, who is in Grade 6 in an Ontario school, to learn what she needs to know.

Recently, parents on both sides of the issue have been presenting petitions and holding protests. There was also a letter from 144 Ontario health agencies in support of the curriculum, which they confirm is based on solid research.

Canada has a history of supporting human rights, both for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons as well as for racial, ethnic and cultural minorities. The health curriculum, of which sex ed is a small part, is an extension of this.

I want my daughter, who is in Grade 6 in an Ontario school, to learn what she needs to know to prepare herself for the modern world, life in Canada and all the challenges she will face. That is why she will be in the classroom learning.  


Dr. Marika Morris is an Adjunct Research Professor in the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa. Her father was Greek from Egypt and an immigrant to Canada, and her mother was Catholic from a fishing village in rural Québec. Dr. Morris grew up in small towns in Québec, in Montréal and outside Canada.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary

by  in Ottawa

The Liberals now enjoy a 36-31 lead nationally over the Conservatives and, perhaps more importantly are now ahead in Ontario, Quebec, and B.C., according to EKOS’ latest poll numbers.

Overall, the national margin of error is 2.9 per cent, with small samples in some provinces the local MOEs range between 5.0 and 8.1 per cent, meaning they should be treated with some caution.

After swapping the lead several times nationally with the Conservatives in the last week, EKOS’ latest three-day rolling sample (October 10 to 12) — based on decided and leaning voters only — has the Liberals in front with 35.6 per cent, the Conservatives right behind at 31.1, and the NDP a distant third at 20.6. The national margin of error is 2.9 per cent.

In large part, the Liberal surge is being driven by a groundswell in Ontario, where Justin Trudeau’s party now has close to a 12-point lead over the Conservatives.

In large part, the Liberal surge is being driven by a groundswell in Ontario, where Justin Trudeau’s party now has close to a 12-point lead over the Conservatives.

When the campaign began, Liberal support in Ontario — where the most seats are up for grabs — was 29 per cent. It’s now at 43, compared to the Conservatives’ 31.1 and the NDP’s 17.0. There is a 5.0 per cent margin of error.

That might explain Trudeau’s decision to campaign in several opposition-held ridings on Tuesday, the NDP’s Beaches–East York, Davenport, and Parkdale–High Park in Toronto, then the Conservatives’ Kitchener Centre and Kitchener–Conestoga.

In Quebec, where the numbers have been particularly volatile, the Conservatives are now in third after leading last week ... It’s a four-way race in B.C.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper spent Tuesday campaigning with incumbents: Ted Opitz and Bernard Trottier in the GTA ridings of Etobicoke Centre and Etobicoke-Lakeshore. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair was in Oshawa, downtown Toronto, and Brampton.

In Quebec, where the numbers have been particularly volatile, the Conservatives are now in third after leading last week.

The Liberals are narrowly in front (30.9); the NDP are in second (30.1); the Conservatives are in third (17.0); and the Bloc are behind them at (13.8). Given that there’s a 6.5 per cent margin or error, however, the NDP could very well still be in the lead.

It’s a four-way race in B.C.

While the Liberals are in front (27.5), both the NDP (25.1) and the Conservatives are in striking distance (24.6). With a high margin or error of 8.1 per cent, the Green Party arguably is as well (18.6).


A note on the methodology from EKOS

This study involved a blended sample collected using two separate methodologies: Computer Assisted Live Interviews (CATI) and EKOS’ proprietary High Definition Interactive Voice Response (HD-IVR™) technology, which allows respondents to enter their preferences by punching the keypad on their phone, rather than telling them to an operator. In an effort to reduce the coverage bias of landline only RDD, we created a dual landline/cell phone RDD sampling frame for this research. As a result, we are able to reach those with a landline and cell phone, as well as cell phone only households and landline only households.

The figures in this report are based on a three-day rolling sample. Each day, a new day’s worth of interviewing is added and the oldest day is dropped. The field dates for this survey are October 10-12, 2015. In total, a random sample of 1,115 Canadian adults aged 18 and over responded to the survey (939 by HD-IVR, 176 by live interviewer). The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/- 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Please note that the margin of error increases when the results are sub-divided (i.e., error margins for sub-groups such as region, sex, age, education). All the data have been statistically weighted by age, gender, region, and educational attainment to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to Census data.

Published in partnership with iPolitics.ca

Published in Politics

by Amanda Connolly in Ottawa

The battle for southwestern Ontario is shaping up to be a pitched battle between rural and urban voters, with the Conservatives particularly vulnerable in six ridings throughout the region, researchers say.

“For sure at this point I think there are at least six ridings that we should be watching and notably they are in urban centres,” said Anna Esselment, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Waterloo who studies election campaigns.

“The Conservatives are going to do relatively well in rural areas, as they have in the past. That seems to be the way things are shaping up.”

Five researchers contacted by iPolitics all agree that the Conservative-held ridings of Kitchener Centre, Waterloo, London North Centre, London West, Oakville, and Oakville-North Burlington are all at risk.

Esselment notes that all have particularly strong Liberal contenders who could benefit as public opinion pulls away from the NDP and focuses on a contest between the Conservatives and the Liberals, as recent polls have indicated.

[T]he Liberals [are] polling as high as 40 per cent [in Ontario] in recent days.

Dubbed the ‘Orange Crash,’ support for the NDP has plummeted from a virtual three-way tie at the start of the campaign to a tie between the Liberals and Conservatives, with 31 and 33 per cent respectively, and the NDP struggling to crack 20 per cent support.

In Ontario, the trend is even more pronounced, with the Liberals polling as high as 40 per cent in recent days.

“That was a three-horse race nationally, never really regionally,” said Kimble Ainslie, president of Nordex Research, a public opinion and market research firm based in London, Ont.

“In Ontario, basically it was the Tories and the Grits with perhaps the NDP coming close third.”

Political history of the region

The six urban ridings at play in southwestern Ontario aren’t traditionally Conservative. Oakville was held by Liberal Bonnie Brown for a decade before bouncing to the Conservatives in 2008, while Halton — now subdivided into Oakville-North Burlington and Milton — has fluctuated between Grits and Tories consistently since Confederation.

London North Centre went Conservative for the first time in 2011 but was held consistently by the Liberals since 1997, while London West turned blue for the first time in 2008 after being held exclusively by the Liberal since 1968 – save for 1984 to 1993, when it was won by the Progressive Conservatives.

“The Conservatives are weaker this time and the Liberals are stronger this time than they were last time.”

Kitchener Centre had also been Liberal since its creation in 1997 until Stephen Woodworth won it for the Conservatives in 2008.

Waterloo is a new riding – it existed from 1968 to 1997 but was redistributed into Kitchener-Waterloo and Waterloo-Wellington. The new Waterloo riding is made up of most of the old Kitchener-Waterloo riding, which also went Conservative for the first time in 2008.

Economic stability, unemployment top of mind

However, a lot has changed since the 2008 election, not least among them, the crash in manufacturing that has cost hundreds of jobs throughout the region, particularly London and Windsor.

“The Conservatives are weaker this time and the Liberals are stronger this time than they were last time,” said Peter Woolstencroft, an associate professor of political science at the University of Windsor.

Woolstencroft says the Conservatives have taken hits to their economic record lately, one of the most important issues for voters in the region.

Statistics Canada released its September Labour Force Survey on Friday, which shows growth in the manufacturing sector remained flat compared to this time last year.

As well, it showed unemployment rates in London, Windsor and St. Catharines are at five-month highs.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has also sparked concerns over its potential impact will be on the automotive and dairy industries — both large employers in the region.

“Unemployment is top of mind, the restoration of what used to be a fairly stable, reliable economy,” said Cristine de Clercy, an associate professor of political science at Western University.

“I think that there’s an agitation among voters that they want a different direction, that they may be unhappy with the fact that the economy is not growing as quickly as they’d like it to."

Lydia Miljan, an associate professor of political science at the University of Waterloo, says while she agrees there are opportunities for Conservative upsets, she doesn’t think the recent unemployment numbers will be a particular cause for concern among regional voters given that they were linked to factors largely outside of government control.

“A lot of the job losses are sort of, at least in the past, the ones we had sustained because of the recession, had more to do with the rising dollar than any specific economic policy,” she said. “The problem is that we really haven’t recovered as quickly as a lot of people would like.”

In the ridings around Oakville and parts of Waterloo, unemployment is not as significant a problem as in Windsor and London but there are still challenges that will play into voters decisions.

Youth in Oakville are facing unemployment rates of between 17 and 20 per cent, far above the provincial average of 13 per cent, and the local chamber of commerce said that was one of the main concerns raised by residents ahead of a local all-candidates debate last week.

In Waterloo, Woolstencroft says the availability of plenty of high-tech jobs doesn’t solve the dearth of blue collar jobs and that those without a university education are still struggling to find work.

Ultimately, researchers say the votes will come down to the vision residents have for the future of their communities — the economic stability they want for themselves and the economic opportunities they want for their children.

“I think that there’s an agitation among voters that they want a different direction, that they may be unhappy with the fact that the economy is not growing as quickly as they’d like it to, agitation over whether they’ll have a job from now, or two years from now, agitation over whether their children will have the opportunities they had when they were coming out of university,” said Esselment.

“I think people are agitated by the state of things and that can make them think a little more about the choices that are in front of them.”


Published in partnership with iPolitics.ca.

Published in Politics
Saturday, 26 September 2015 18:13

Their Bodies, Their Rules: Sex Ed in Ontario

by Rebecca Bromwich in Ottawa

You've probably seen some variation of the popular T-shirts that set out “Rules For Dating My Daughter.” They usually contain a number of threats towards anyone looking to court someone's children, but ultimately the key rule is “you can’t.”

This is supposed to be a way of jokingly protecting one’s children from advances by prospective suitors, and I laughed the first time I saw it. However, thinking about it further, I realized the T-shirt wasn't that amusing. In fact, these types of jokes have another effect entirely: they limit an adolescent's agency and freedom.

Ontario’s newly announced health and sexual education curriculum has been the subject of a great deal of debate. Protests have erupted across the province, as have “strikes,” during which some parents are keeping their kids home from school to object to the new curriculum.

These jokes limit an adolescent's agency and freedom.

These protests reflect the issue of who gets to make the rules for our youth. Debates and protests about Ontario's new sex education curriculum seem focused on what kids are taught and when, but more so on which group of adults is in control and who among them gets to make the rules.

The battle, which has become politicized with the strong opposition from Ontario’s PC Leader, is centred on whether parents or the government should have the authority to determine the best interests of the child.

Setting up discussions about what our children should learn in school as a battle between parents and the government misses a fundamental aspect of what is at stake — namely, the health, sexuality and self-expression of the province's youth.

It's not just parents, educators, governments and communities whose rights and powers are at stake when we talk about sexual health education for kids. Children have rights of their own.

When they are small, their chief sexual right is the right not to be abused. However, as they grow and develop, they acquire rights as sexual citizens.

Not just politics: children’s rights under Canadian law

Protesting against the current provincial government about the curriculum is a displaced effort. The notion that children have rights is not a concept based in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s personal agenda. It is a matter of law.

The discussion of sex and sexuality set out in Ontario’s new sexual and health education curriculum is more than a reflection of the values of a particular political party or community group. Rather, it reflects the language of and case law interpreting Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Protesting against the current provincial government about the curriculum is a displaced effort.

Children’s rights in this provision complement others in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which applies to children as well as adults. Under the Charter, children as well as their parents have rights to freedom of conscience and religion and to free expression. Equally as important is a child's right to become educated about things that will affect their bodies and their health.

Children’s rights under international law

Children’s rights are not a Canadian invention, but are set out in international law, as well as domestic provisions.

The rights of children, whatever their gender, sexuality, race or religion, are outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This convention was agreed upon by the vast majority of the world’s nations by multilateral international legal convention over 20 years ago.

As explained in the CRC, children are entitled to be supported in ways that ensure their full development to enjoy responsible life in a free society. This includes rights to freedom of expression, to identity and to autonomy.

Adolescents, whatever the values held by their families, are subjects and agents. Children own their own bodies and they have legal rights. 

The interests of communities, as articulated by parents, community and religious leaders must be balanced against the rights of adolescents.

Yes, it’s sometimes difficult for any parent to accept that our children’s life choices are theirs, not ours. It’s a difficult journey to parent children who are subject to our influence, but not our control, who are subject to government regulation, but not government dictation in a free society. But this is the nature of the adventure. 

The rights and freedoms of children aren’t just dictated by a radical politician with whom you may not agree. They are the law, nationally and internationally, and must be respected as such.

Sexual health, sexual citizenship: their bodies, their rules

In the past, in Canada and elsewhere, too often have governments, educators, parents and communities all failed to recognize and protect the rights of children, especially girls. The bodies, wills and minds, of adolescents have not been well acknowledged by our laws and policies, as recent protests may suggest.

The interests of communities, as articulated by parents, community and religious leaders (who are not usually young, or children) must be balanced against the rights of adolescents to know and understand their own bodies, rights and responsibilities.

Yes, adults and legislators have roles to play in guiding and safeguarding children. However, kids have developed to become responsible enough to make up their own minds.

With this in mind, there is only one set of rules for dating my daughters (or sons) that is consistent with the Charter and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and it's completely consistent with Ontario’s new sexual and health education curriculum as well:

“You don’t make the rules.

I don't make the rules.

She makes the rules.

Her body; her rules.”


Rebecca Bromwich is a mother of four and has been a lawyer in Ontario since 2003. She received her PhD from Carleton University's Department of Law and Legal Studies and joined the Faculty there the same year, in 2015. She also teaches at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary
Tuesday, 22 September 2015 22:00

New Gurdwara Coming up in Ontario

Toronto (IANS): Hundreds of Sikhs gathered at a ceremony for the start of construction of a new gurdwara in Guelph city, Ontario, a media report said on Tuesday. “The ceremony marked the beginning of a building process that starts now (Monday) and should take about nine months to complete,” Guelph Mercury newspaper quoted Ravi Rai, spokesperson […]

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Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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