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View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
Mr. Chair, 80% of offenders in our federal prisons have addictions. We know that mental illness is a significant and growing problem in our prisons. The Conservative government has said that there are people in prisons who shouldn't be there because they actually have health issues. Yet this budget doesn't say a word about increasing funding for mental health treatment or addictions treatment.
Given that these are some of the prime causes of crime, and dealing with these issues is an absolutely identified way to reduce recidivism and make our communities safer, can you please explain why?
View Vic Toews Profile
CPC (MB)
View Vic Toews Profile
2011-03-24 9:20
I can talk about some of the initiatives that our government has taken in funding, for example, that was never in place under the prior government to address issues of mental health. We've contributed significant millions of dollars to the issue of mental health in prisons.
This is an issue, Mr. Chair, that both the provincial and the federal institutions are facing as a result of the shift in policy in the provinces some number of years ago. I was a lawyer for a provincial government during the course of those occurrences that were essentially shutting down mental hospitals or asylums and putting these individuals out onto the street. In many cases, not only were they then out on the street with mental health problems, but they became prey to the drug dealers, so you had a double problem of mental health and drug addiction.
Essentially these--
View Vic Toews Profile
CPC (MB)
View Vic Toews Profile
2011-03-24 9:21
Essentially these individuals then find their way into the provincial jail system and the federal institutions. We have taken steps to address that, but I think we need a more vigorous discussion with provincial mental health authorities about what would be a more appropriate way of dealing with these individuals. The policies of the 1970s and 1980s in closing down these institutions have not worked, quite frankly, and what we're doing is developing--
Susan Reid
View Susan Reid Profile
Susan Reid
2011-03-23 16:08
Thank you very much.
I think you have hit it on the head in terms of the common ground that we do share. Let's be clear: our youth facilities are there for punishment. They're not there for treatment, and being held in a custodial facility does nothing more than punish young people. We know that young people with highly complex needs require a different kind of treatment and that our young offender facilities are full of people with mental health needs for whom treatment is not mandatory. I would argue that there aren't services even if they want to access them. That's an issue as well.
We have a number of programs in our community facilities, and if we had sufficient resources tied to intensive mental health treatment over a period of about three years, we would be better served. Some people do need to be in a closed facility for a period of time. But let's not kid ourselves into thinking that being in a closed facility is for treatment. It's for punishment. I agree with the three-year term. In fact, that's why we had three years in the original Young Offender's Act.
View Peter MacKay Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Wilfert, I would encourage any and all input from this honourable committee in any studies you undertake. I agree with you that the priority has to remain the men and women in uniform, and the services provided to them.
I was proud this weekend to announce another of the joint personnel support units, which I know you're familiar with. They are really designed to bring together all of the various support services and programs available to the men and women in uniform, veterans, and their families, and make them more accessible, more readily available, and more easily understood, and to also increase things such as mental health care professionals. We still have a goal to double the number of mental health care professionals. This is particularly challenging, as you can appreciate, in certain remote areas where we have smaller Canadian Forces stations and bases. We want to try to have a standard of care that is available to all.
We've made significant investments in the care and treatment of grievously injured veterans as well. This remains a focal point of the Department of Veterans Affairs, but we naturally work very closely with the department.
I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you another initiative that we hope to have in place very soon. It is to allow for, and in fact encourage, the continued service of those who have been injured in combat and in the line of duty. I've undertaken quite extensive discussions with the assistant deputy of personnel, as well as the Chief of the Defence Staff and others.
I would share with committee members the very poignant and quite humbling experience of having seen two of our injured soldiers who have returned to Afghanistan with the Van Doos regiment. Both of them suffered very serious injuries, yet they are serving actively in Afghanistan. The Chief of the Defence Staff and Chief Warrant Officer of the Canadian Forces promoted them while they are serving in Afghanistan, just this past week. It was certainly a very emotional and morale-boosting experience for the troops present to see this happen, and to see the absolute courage and conviction of these soldiers to return to Afghanistan after having suffered grievous injuries there on previous tours.
We hope to institutionalize that, by the way, to make sure that members are encouraged and embraced, should they choose to stay in uniform after having suffered those injuries.
Alain Beaudet
View Alain Beaudet Profile
Alain Beaudet
2011-03-10 15:46
I would like to thank the committee for this opportunity to discuss the transfers to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research under supplementary estimates (C).
As you have seen, CIHR's grants vote will increase by $10.67 million with approval of the 2010-11 supplementary estimates (C). This increase will bring CIHR's reference levels for the 2010-11 fiscal year to $1.026 billion.
I would like to highlight the potential impact of a few of these transfers on health outcomes and commercialization of health discoveries.
The largest transfer is $9.36 million for the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research. This investment is being used to fund two centres of excellence: the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine located in Toronto, and the Centre for Imaging Technology Commercialization located in London.
Regenerative medicine and medical imaging are two areas at the forefront of discovery in health research. They are also two areas in which Canada is world-renowned for its scientific expertise. These two new centres therefore represent exciting opportunities for future breakthrough discoveries with impact on the health of Canadians and the strength of our life sciences industry.
CIHR's transfers, as you just heard, also include a transfer of $1 million from the Public Health Agency of Canada for population health intervention research. With this investment, CIHR and PHAC have succeeded in attracting other partners, including the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Together with these partners, CIHR will fund seven major research projects in the area of mental health promotion and the prevention and reduction of obesity, two major priority areas for the health of Canadians.
For CIHR this is but one of many of these very Canadian examples where government investment serves as a catalyst for the engagement of other partners so as to increase the coherence of research funding and maximize its potential for impact.
A third transfer of $800,000 from the Public Health Agency will go to major projects on HIV and AIDS co-infections and other co-morbidities, as you have heard. This research will provide the evidence needed for future programs and policies to prevent or control HIV and AIDS co-infections and other co-morbidities.
Finally, CIHR is transferring out the amount of $700,000 to the International Development Research Centre for an international research initiative on adaptation to climate change. This investment will support multinational research teams to advance a fuller understanding of climate and related stressors on vulnerable populations, resources, and ecosystem health in Canada and in low income and middle income countries.
The purposes of having this knowledge are: to shape policies and practices that help people and vulnerable segments to adapt to climate change; to train highly qualified staff; and, finally, to establish networks that will enhance the ability of governments, of the private sector and of civil society to adapt to climate change and to reduce its effects.
I would like to thank you for your support of CIHR's endeavours and for health research in general.
I'm pleased to take any questions that you may have.
View Luc Malo Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Dr. Butler-Jones, in the supplementary estimates (C), we read that the Public Health Agency is going to make a transfer to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada for developing a national standard for psychological health and safety in the workplace. This seems to be a complete intrusion into the constitutional jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces.
Can you tell me why we need to establish a Canada-wide standard for psychological health and safety in the workplace? Also, are you able to tell me who is going to participate in developing this standard?
David Butler-Jones
View David Butler-Jones Profile
David Butler-Jones
2011-03-10 16:32
First, it is a small step for the agency. It will be done together with the Department of Health. It is a way for us to ensure more effective cooperation. The other agencies work well with the provinces, but this is different from the activities of the provinces.
Glenda Yeates
View Glenda Yeates Profile
Glenda Yeates
2011-03-10 16:32
Mr. Chair, I can expand a bit on this issue.
This funding is to support an initiative by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
One of the remits of the Mental Health Commission is to do a mental health strategy for the country. It is working away on that. One of the priorities that came through its consultations was from employers and others who said, “We are not doing a very good job as employers at managing mental health in the workplace. We could use some help and some tools here”.
The funding that is being transferred is in support of this Mental Health Commission initiative to develop a national standard of psychological health and safety in the workplace. This would be a guide to help employers and others deal with what we all acknowledge is a challenge in the workplace. Employers are probably better at dealing with situations when people have cancer or heart disease, than when there are mental health challenges. There's a real opportunity to furnish a tool and a guide that will be useful.
Elizabeth White
View Elizabeth White Profile
Elizabeth White
2011-03-09 15:32
Thank you very much, Chair, for the invitation to appear before the committee.
I am speaking on behalf of the St. Leonard's Society of Canada, and as it has been some years since we have presented before you, I would simply note that we have 45 years of experience in criminal justice and social justice, supporting member agencies that provide direct service across this country. While in the past we have been best known for our focus on long-term and life-sentenced individuals and for our residential services, it is our belief and knowledge that youth are key to providing safer communities, and for that reason we are pleased to present on this issue.
I was fortunate enough to participate in the round table in Toronto on youth justice in 2008, and now that the report from that has become available, I am struck by how similar its findings are to the matters we raised in the brief we submitted to you some months ago.
At St. Leonard's Canada, we believe it is important to note that since the enactment of the YCJA in 2003, there has been a significant decrease in youth incarceration without a significant increase in youth crime. Something clearly is working very well.
Turning to Bill C-4, we are in support of the inclusion in clause 3 of “diminished moral blameworthiness or culpability” as a principle, and we also wish to express support for clause 21 on the prohibition against the imprisonment of young persons in adult correctional facilities. On the other hand, St. Leonard's has serious concerns about clauses 4, 7, 8, 11, 18, 20, and 24. I would like to take a few moments on those. We are also concerned about the broadening of the definition of violent offence through the inclusion of sweeping wording, which we believe is cause for grave concern.
We would also like to note that the act did give this country the opportunity to overcome its dubious distinction of having the highest western incarceration rate for youth. That is a big achievement.
We believe these amendments respond to isolated and somewhat sensationalized cases, not the best basis on which to reform legislation. We believe that a more thorough examination and a longer-term opportunity for this act to continue to prove itself should occur before changes are made. We find many of the issues raised by Bill C-4 to be already appropriately addressed.
Deterrence as a sentencing principle would not be useful. There is no substantive support of its effectiveness in crime prevention. We submit that the YCJA deliberately omits deterrence as a sentencing principle with good reason and that it currently addresses the needs of the court in providing appropriate sentencing for youth that offers the best chance for rehabilitation and reintegration. Based on the lack of substantive evidence to show that deterrence is effective, we are concerned about amending the rules for pre-sentence detention. The current guidance from the act regarding pre-trial detention does not lack the necessary focus. The authority to detain a young person is already included if such an action can be justified in the youth court. We believe the proposed amendment places the onus on courts to focus on detention for so much broader a spectrum of offences that very few will remain unconsidered.
Extrajudicial sanctions support the key values of the YCJA in its aim to avoid custodial sentences unless those are required, and they support more viable alternatives that increase the likelihood of positive impact on the youth. The current approach allows the youth's admission of guilt to be a basis on which to move forward rather than a means of embroiling the youth further in the system. The youth will take responsibility. Expanding the criteria to allow them as admissible evidence for custodial sentencing will reduce the attractiveness of admissions of guilt for extrajudicial sanctions for the youth, but will also deter police, we believe, from using them.
On publication bans, the act currently allows a ban to be lifted when it is justified to do so in the interest of the youth or public safety. We know that publication leads to stigma. We know that stigma leads to reduced opportunity and often to recidivism. That's simply not consistent with the principles of the act. As Professor Doob noted in his appearance last week, if publication is to be broadened, it ought not to occur until all appeal processes are complete.
I would like to turn briefly to the relationship between mental health and youth crime. It is suggested that about 10% of youths involved in the criminal justice system have mental health disorders. I note this because in our view the attention in youth criminality should be addressing the needs--and yes, therefore the risks--of the many youth who have mental disorders. Ensuring that supports are in place to help them avoid conflict with the law is essential. Given that more than 70% of adults with mental health diagnoses who are in the criminal justice system had pre-age-18 onsets, it is clear that addressing youth mental wellness is key to minimizing long-term health costs and human distress.
Further to this, we are concerned with recent reports of a 70% co-morbidity rate among incarcerated youth who have mental health and substance abuse problems. Additionally, it has been found that more than 30% of youth with major medical issues also have mental health issues. So it's evident that there need to be more good mental health results, which will ensure good justice results. We're not sure that these proposed amendments get at this very serious issue, and we are very sure that punitive measures will not do a great deal to address it.
There is strong evidence supporting the need to reduce the criminalization of youth with mental health disorders in order to increase rehabilitation, reintegration, public safety, and greater cost-effectiveness overall.
I want to reference an example from London, Ontario, where the St. Leonard's community services in that region have an attendance centre program. They supervise around 150 youths over a six-month period, with a high rate of success through diversion programs. In six years of operation it is estimated that the savings between custody and the attendance centre are in the neighbourhood of $7 million to $10 million. That kind of money can go a long way to assisting youth.
I also want to reference the IRCS sentence. This excellent measure is still not being used to its full potential. Indeed, this week we heard that there are many judges in this country who are not aware that it is possible to use it. So despite allocations of funding that would allow 50 sentences of this type a year, since 2003 there have been less than 80. We need to give an opportunity for this very effective intervention to become known and used to further decrease ongoing criminalization.
We believe that the extended costs of further custodial measures are not necessary or appropriate for the Canadian public. We must give this act time to work, in the view of the St. Leonard's Society. There is overwhelming consensus from the report on the round tables that the flaws are not with the legislation; they're in the system. Implementation needs more and better work.
We submit there is indeed a need for action on youth justice: not legislation or incarceration, but vastly enhanced access to interventions and support through collaborative federal-provincial-territorial initiatives that overcome the silos of governance and address what is needed.
Thank you.
Bernard Butler
View Bernard Butler Profile
Bernard Butler
2011-03-07 16:31
I think that if there's a risk, it obviously would be a concern, but I can tell you that with the lump-sum benefit, there are a number of considerations that I think you should address. First of all, we do offer financial counselling. It's part of the package. If there's an individual who may be at risk, that person is certainly encouraged through our district office staff to seek that financial counselling, to get support if they require help in decision-making. What this bill does, however, is it does afford that individual the opportunity to make a choice, and the choice will be obviously to either accept the full amount as a lump sum or as a combination of a lump sum and a periodic payment, or strictly as an annualized periodic payment over whatever period of time that individual chooses to make.
One of our concerns, and a concern I think the committee should consider, is that there is always a fundamental issue of choice and self-determination, and there seems to be some concern that individuals, because they come back from Afghanistan, may not have the mental wherewithal to make decisions around how they're going to spend their money. This is a concern in the sense that we send troops to Afghanistan, we send troops all around the world, to engage in very difficult actions on behalf of the Government of Canada, and yet the response from some quarters is that, yes, that's great, and you were able to do that, but you're not able to manage some money that you're going to get because you have been injured.
There are very difficult issues in all of this around self-determination, freedom of choice, competency, and capacity to manage decisions around financial spending. From a departmental point of view, yes, we are concerned. We have put processes in place to ensure that for any individual we're working with, if there is an identified risk, they are counselled, they receive the support they need. And, again, the programming does afford that opportunity to pay $500 towards financial counselling to help individuals with decisions around investment strategies or otherwise with their funds.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Butler, under clause 13, proposed subsection section 52.1(2) says,
(2) The Minister shall, in the prescribed manner, inform the member or veteran of their right to make an election under subsection (1).
Then it goes on to say,
(3) If the member or veteran fails to make the election, the amount of the disability award is to be paid as a lump sum.
You talk about the fact that these men or women went to war and did all these great, brave things for us, and they're smart people, so how could they come home and then not have the capacity to make the right decision when it comes to whether or not they will receive a lump-sum payment. But if the person coming back is emotionally unstable as a result of his experience--and we know that from some of the other awards--they've squandered the money at the time because they emotionally weren't as stable as they might have been at a later date. You're offering flexibility here, when you clearly see an individual who is not well, is there any way of delaying making that decision and instead starting with an enhanced monthly payment and kind of delaying that whole lump sum? Because a year from that particular time the person may be much more stable and able to make a more competent decision. Within all of this, is there flexibility there for some extra hand-holding, you might call it?
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond
View Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond Profile
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond
2011-03-07 16:27
On the proposal to have better coordination in the system for young people with mental illness and behavioural and developmental disabilities, we see some aspects of it in some provinces and territories, often in a single centre, such as a town. We don't see it at the national level. There is a lack of clarity.
For example, I'm reviewing a case at the moment of an adolescent with autism who had a very significant psychotic episode. In the context of that, his father was killed. He was found to be not criminally responsible for that act because of a very significant mental disorder. He had gone to a hospital, but he wasn't certified under the provincial legislation and retained. The parents were very afraid to leave him in an adult psychiatric facility, which was mostly for street-involved adults. He was a very vulnerable person; they brought him home, and his father was unfortunately murdered. He has been completely stabilized and is back in the community and living with the terrible consequences of what happened.
Could it have been prevented? I don't know, but the issue is this: what about the supports for an adolescent who has a developmental disability and a mental health challenge? In crime prevention, do we have a consistent approach and adequate mental health supports for kids with dual diagnoses and kids with special needs? As well, we refer in our brief to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, so we are not seeing effective national standards and strategies. We see a patchwork--
Irvin Waller
View Irvin Waller Profile
Irvin Waller
2011-03-03 9:10
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to you this morning.
I've made available to the committee some materials in both English and French, first of all a book called Less Law, More Order: The Truth About Reducing Crime. This book is totally consistent with what Senator Hutchinson told you, but it adds to it information from studies in England and in the United States on what is in fact effective and cost-effective in reducing crime, and it actually talks about a strategy to move from overreliance on reactive criminal justice to a balance between smart criminal justice and effective prevention.
I've also made available to the committee a document in both official languages, called in English Making Cities Safer: Action Briefs for Municipal Stakeholders. This was funded by some of the money from the National Crime Prevention Centre and has been very widely used. We actually ran out of copies fairly soon after we produced them by cities from coast to coast. Probably the most interesting city to use this is the city of Edmonton, but it also talks about Montreal, Waterloo, and other cities.
I have been on the public record on a number of the issues here today, and I'd just like to remind you a little bit about how I got to where I am now.
I did the first and only independent evaluation of the prison and parole system in Canada in the seventies. I was a director general in the Ministry of Public Safety in the seventies. I won prizes for my work in getting the UN to adopt the declaration on rights for crime victims, colloquially known as the Magna Carta for crime victims, and I was the founding executive director of the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime affiliated with the UN and based in Montreal.
But more recently I've turned to writing two books for legislators and voters and taxpayers, and a lot of what is in these books is consistent with the right on crime website, but it has perhaps two major emphases that were not mentioned by Senator Hutchinson. One, I'm a crime victim advocate; nothing else. I've been head of the World Society of Victimology. I'm personally a victim of crime, and I currently head the International Organization for Victim Assistance. The main contribution that I make in the victim area is that I'm also a professional social scientist who looks at data and looks at standards and looks at what is in the best interests of victims, and I try to share my assessment with them.
This book does that, and I have a book that actually is already released in the United States and ran out in the first three weeks of its publication, called Rights for Victims of Crime.
Now, what I think is missing from what you shared with us today is a focus on.... If you go on the Right on Crime website, you will see they talk about protecting victims, and I think our public policy in Canada, both federally and provincially, should be totally focused on reducing harm to victims of crime. That means reducing the number of people who are victims of crime, and focusing on what can be done about that harm.
Justice Canada released about a week ago an updated study on the cost of crime to victims in Canada, talking about $85 billion as being the cost of pain and suffering to victims. They also, by the way, estimated the cost of criminal justice at $15 billion, and I guess it's because they're in Justice Canada that they're not following what is going on in the policing area in Canada. It's not just prison costs that Justin Piché talked about. It's also policing costs, and policing costs affect our taxes at the municipal level in this country. So I think we have to see this issue of prison construction in the context of rapidly expanding policing expenditures as well as these rapidly expanding correctional expenditures at the provincial level.
In my view, these expenditures are largely out of control, and there is a need for leadership. And the good news is that there is leadership in this country. The Province of Alberta in 2007 set up a task force to look at the best data from all over the world on what actually works to reduce harm to victims. That task force included the chief of police of Edmonton, an associate dean of law, a native, and so on and so forth.
There were 31 recommendations from the task force, and I'm going to divide them into four parts. First, part of them were about building remand cells because nobody has really come to grips with limiting the reaction to crime. They included some additional police officers. Alberta has fewer police officers per capita than Ontario and Quebec do. Second, it included stuff to deal with mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction. Third, it put into practice the sort of stuff that is in this book, and a number of other agencies. By the way, a lot of this research comes from the United States on what actually works to reduce crime. Fourth, and this is the most important thing for this committee, they established a long-term strategy, not reacting by saying we have to build now because there's going to be double-bunking and so on, but a strategy that says yes, we've got to deal with making sure we've got enough reactive capacity, but we've got to get to grips with the sorts of things that lead to this flood of people into our prison system, and we've got to prevent.
I know my time is limited, but I prepared a longer brief and I will be happy to share it with people in due course. What I've decided to do in the very limited time is to focus on a very brief history. I'm not going to go back 30 or 40 years, which I could do, to tell you about the history.
I just want to translate one thing that Senator Hutchinson told you. He said prisons are expensive. What that means is a taxpayer in the United States pays twice what a taxpayer in Canada does for the privilege of having that number of police, that number of lawyers, and an incredible number of people incarcerated. He said 2.3 million, but in my view it's very close to the population of Toronto that's incarcerated. He told you it was 23% of the recorded prison population in the world. You have to think about that.
While you're thinking about that, and it's a rate of 750 per 100,000, the aboriginal rate of incarceration in Canada is higher than that. If you go ahead with expanding penitentiaries, just think who is going to be incarcerated: aboriginal people, disproportionately; women, very disproportionately; men, disproportionately.
I have the privilege of having a PhD student working on how you solve that problem, and the answer is, you prevent. You focus on why there is so much violence, particularly among urban aboriginal people, and we know exactly what to do. By the way, we largely knew in 1993 when the Horner committee looked at these issues. We largely knew when the O'Shaughnessy committee looked at these issues in 1995. Since then, the World Health Organization in 2002 produced a report, with assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. This report basically tells you in its foreword, and I'll quote from Mandela, that violence is preventable.
You will not find any recommendation in that report that would give you any basis for expanding our prison population. It didn't talk about abolishing prisons. Clearly, we need prisons for the dangerous offenders. Part of what I did as a federal public servant was introduce the first dangerous offender legislation. I don't want Olson calling me up, and I don't want Bernardo being released, and I could mention several other cases. If you look at what Right On Crime says, basically it says to set priorities. You have a certain prison capacity, so use it for those people who are dangerous--I think that was your term, but I may be misquoting you.
The World Health Organization produced their report, and they also produced a major report on return on investment. For me, that's an Alberta term. I was doing a presentation to an American criminal justice group in Toronto yesterday, with the Alberta government, and what they talked about was social return on investment.
These guys in Alberta are smart. They're not just sitting there allowing this flood wave of policing increases and prison construction. They're saying they're going to protect victims; they're going to use taxpayers' money responsibly, which is a very similar line to the website, Right on Crime. The WHO brought that together.
In 2007 the current federal Conservative government doubled the budget for prevention, from $25 million or $30 million to $60 million. When they're spending $4 billion, it's not worth worrying about. Stockwell Day, who is very familiar with the victimization statistics, implied this was going to solve the crime problem. That sort of money for an experimental program will not solve the crime problem.
They've now cut back on that. They couldn't spend the money. There are people out there who could use that money, but they couldn't spend it.
For me, this is an incredible shame. Not only was it too little—limited to experimental—but they didn't spend the money. There are 14 cities in this country looking for $300,000 a year to multiply what works, and they were told there was no longer any money available. This is while we are talking in the press about $400 million.
I've mentioned the Alberta task force. I'm going to go to some bottom lines, and I—
View Gary Schellenberger Profile
CPC (ON)
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the 41st meeting of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs and, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), a study of combat stress and its consequences on the mental health of veterans and their families.
Our witness today, from 3:30 to 4:30 via video conference from Vancouver, British Columbia, as an individual, is Marvin J. Westwood, founder of the Veterans Transition Program.
Welcome, Mr. Westwood.
I am Gary Schellenberger, the chair of the standing committee.
If you would like to, please make your address, and then hopefully we can keep our questions short and to the point. We look forward to a very informative hour, sir.
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