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View Dan Albas Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is a welcome opportunity to speak to this motion today. I would like to commend the member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert for putting this motion forward.
I would like to take a few moments today to explain exactly why I think this is such an important motion. In particular, I would like to focus on credit unions.
In our Conservative caucus we have a wide variety of backgrounds. To my left we have a former president and chair of a large credit union. We obviously have farmers. We have business men and women who have conducted a large amount of work in business with credit unions. I would like to focus on that end of the cooperative sphere today.
In my riding of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, and in my former riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla as well, credit unions are often the financial cornerstone of the region. For many of my constituents, it was a community credit union that said yes to their first mortgage, to their first small business loan, to a line of credit, when some of the larger financial institutions that have international presence said, “And you are?” Now, I do not mean to suggest anything negative against Canada's larger financial institutions which are part of the cornerstone of what many feel is one of the best banking systems in the world, but the fact is, to many of my constituents, they got their first start, their first financial start so to speak, because a credit union said yes to them.
Even as I wrote this speech last Friday night, news had just spread that Valley First, which is division of First West Credit Union, donated $150,000 toward the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation. This is the same credit union that sponsors many important local community events.
In Summerland, there is a credit union that sponsors many other local events and is considered to be one of the best run credit unions in all of British Columbia. It is all of one, a single branch, but for the people in Summerland, it has been their financial and fiscal lifeline. It has helped finance the growth of Summerland since it was first founded in 1944. In fact, it is a remarkable story. Back in 1944, the Summerland & District Credit Union was founded when 10 local citizens pooled together less than $20, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Why am I raising credit unions today in speaking in support of this motion?
The short, simple answer is that credit unions need our help. They are not asking for a zero-interest loan like our friends at Bombardier. The reality is that credit unions are drowning. They are drowning in regulatory red tape and one-size-fits-all Ottawa-imposed regulation. For starters, I am sure members would know that common reporting standards and FINTRAC alone are creating massive compliance costs on credit unions. One small credit union alone told me it spends $100,000 a year on compliance costs. To a large financial institution, $100,000 is probably a drop in the advertising bucket, but for a small community credit union, it means it is literally hiring people not to serve customers but rather to serve Ottawa in filling out the required paperwork. It is a massive burden.
Now the Liberal government comes along and says it is going to change mortgage regulations. Keep in mind, I am not talking about the new stress tests. I am talking about the punitive and unilateral decision to take away CMHC insurance on refinanced mortgages.
Canadians are a savvy bunch. We understand that accessing our home equity through a refinanced mortgage is absolutely the most cost-effective way to invest in a small business, to finance home renovations, to consolidate debt, to survive a long labour lockout, to keep a family home after a divorce. Whatever the case may be, refinancing a mortgage is a cost-effective way to invest in a local economy and now, with zero consultation, the Liberal government has taken that away.
What this means is small credit unions will have to allocate more funds to cover those mortgages. In turn, it means that money will not be available to flow into other sectors of the local community lending portfolio. In turn, it means that interest rates will need to be higher.
All of this drives up costs on a credit union and ultimately its members. This is why credit unions are so greatly troubled by many of the measures that the Liberal government has put forward.
In fact, going back to the mortgages, we heard every single witness at the finance committee, including the witnesses put forward by the Liberals, agree that these would have significant negative impacts on the industry and ultimately on Canadians. They also agreed there was zero consultation on why the Liberals are adamant on implementing these punitive changes.
We had bureaucrats at the finance committee and while they could explain what the policy changes were, none of them could explain why the Liberal government wants to make these changes. I will even credit a few of my Liberal colleagues on the finance committee. When I put forward a motion to invite the finance minister so he could explain why he thinks these changes are good, they agreed with me and supported the motion. For those people less familiar with how the finance committee works, it is not every day that members of the government will agree to bring their own minister before the committee to explain himself.
That brings me back to this motion. I could continue at length on the important roles credit unions play in my riding and indeed in many ridings throughout Canada, which is why I am pleased to support the motion. I can also state that since I have assumed the portfolio of deputy finance critic, I have also heard at length from credit unions on very serious struggles they are facing, all trying to keep up with Ottawa's imposed one-size-fits-all regulatory compliance-related red tape. If we are to support this motion, and I am hopeful that all parties and all members will support this motion, then by extension we must do more to recognize the value of co-operatives. We must ensure that we listen and make the much-needed regulatory changes. These changes would not cost the taxpayer money, but they would help keep a more robust, more diverse, and more competitive fiscal sector in Canada, which is what we all believe needs to happen toward prosperity.
Before I close, I would like to briefly quote from Desjardins Group which made a presentation at the finance committee. Mr. Bernard Brun said it best when he said that the rest of the country's “financial co-operatives are an important and integral part of the Canadian financial system and that the rules need to be adapted accordingly.” I could not agree more. That is why I am speaking in support of this motion today, and I do appreciate members' time to hear my comments.
Again, I would like to thank the member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert for putting this motion forward. I believe it is a helpful reminder that we must be thinking of our local communities when we are in this place, and not necessarily allow the dictates of the politics of today to push us in a certain direction. All good things in life are upstream, and I appreciate the member's suggestion that this is one way we can make things better for co-operatives, including credit unions, right across this great country.
View Robert Aubin Profile
View Robert Aubin Profile
2017-02-13 11:32 [p.8817]
Mr. Speaker, I want to start by saying that I cannot imagine any member of Parliament opposing this morning's motion, particularly if that member is from Quebec.
I will not claim that co-operatives were our brainchild and ours alone, but allow me to indulge in some nationalistic pride and say that Quebec has a significantly higher percentage of co-operative enterprises than any other province or territory in every sector across the board.
One well-known example is, of course, Desjardins, but within that model, I would like to draw the House's attention to what we call the school savings bank. From the time they start school, our children can deposit money in the school savings bank. This is their introduction to the co-operative model and that whole sector of the economy. In my day, kids could even deposit pennies. Every deposit, no matter how small, contributed to kids' financial literacy.
At the other end of the spectrum, many funeral co-operatives have sprung up in recent years. This means that the co-operative movement follows us from the cradle to the grave, so to speak, and in all sectors of the economy. There are university co-operatives, agricultural co-operatives, and health co-operatives. Basically, in every economic sector of our society, there is room for a co-operative economy.
This is particularly true in the social economy. We have an obligation to show solidarity and develop many, many co-op-based institutions. There is really no good reason to oppose this motion.
However, I do have one small reservation. Members who have been here for more than two elections will recall very clearly the tremendous amount of work Mauril Bélanger did on this file. I would also like to remind members of the huge amount of work done by one of our NDP colleagues during the 41st Parliament. Hélène LeBlanc worked very hard to advance the co-operative movement.
My only reservation is that we are debating a motion here today rather than any concrete application in legislation, such as the budget bill, for example, which will be introduced soon.
Let us look at the motion: the text of the motion recommends that the government recognize the important role co-operatives play in our economy and ensure that they continue to thrive. It would be hard to be against that. To achieve this goal, the motion calls on the federal government to develop a co-operative strategy with all the provincial and territorial partners. Finally, the motion proposes that the federal government provide periodic progress reports on goals and targets reached. It would hard to go against these principles. We would just like to see the machine speed up a bit.
Although I support the principle behind the motion, the recommendations are so vague and, as I was saying, so imprecise and repetitive that any tangible impact they might have will result only from the Liberal government's political will. Let us hope the will is there. I have no doubt about the substance of the motion, but as for the schedule, that remains to be seen. We will ensure that the Liberal government effectively keeps this promise.
For those watching our debates, let us reiterate that co-operatives are organizations where a member is both owner and client. Other than their sector, co-operatives have many things in common, including the democratic power of their members and their heavy involvement in their community. Co-operatives also share other commonalities with the NDP. In fact, the fundamental values of the co-operative movement are similar to those that define our policies, namely to work together to build equity between citizens and establish mutual trust.
The NDP has always advocated for co-operatives because they are resilient in times of economic crisis. Co-operatives are resilient because their business decisions are directly tied to their economic and social impact on the community in which they are based.
According to a study by Quebec's former economic development, innovation, and exports department, the survival rate of co-operatives is almost double that of conventional businesses.
I will read a quote by Bryan Inglis, vice-president of Co-op Atlantic’s Agriculture Division:
Due to these economic realities, we believe that cooperatives can play an important and strategic role. Given that cooperatives are enterprises that seek to meet member and community needs, which can be both economic and social, they're ideally positioned to meet the needs of both rural and urban communities. When conditions worsen, citizens look for opportunities to work together to come up with workable solutions.
Co-operatives are also vital to job creation. In Quebec, between 2000 and 2010, jobs in the co-operative sector increased by 25%, while jobs in the overall economy increased by less than 10%.
The co-operative movement also generates thousands of jobs across Canada. Over 155,000 people actively participate in this movement.
What is more, it is important to note that co-operatives are often great financial successes. According to a federal government study, non-financial co-operatives reported a total volume of business of $39.6 billion in 2012, which is an increase of 3% compared to 2011.
It is not just a small number of shareholders who reap the benefits of the co-operative movement's success. It is the communities being served by co-operatives.
As I was saying earlier, Quebec is seen as a champion of the co-operative movement, and I am proud to be part of it. There is no doubt that the co-operative movement has shaped our history. More than 20 years ago, the Quebec government established a co-operative investment plan that has helped many co-operatives get off the ground and flourish.
This political will has generated $393 million in new investments in co-operatives. Today, more than one million Quebeckers are members of a co-operative, and this sector employs more than 43,000 people. One in eight Quebeckers directly participates in the development of the co-operative sector.
When it comes to Quebec co-operatives, Mouvement Desjardins stands out, although, as I mentioned earlier, the co-operative movement is now active in all economic sectors. In Quebec, 70% of the population is a member of a Caisse populaire Desjardins and that includes me.
The Mouvement Desjardins was founded in 1900 by Alphonse Desjardins. At the time, traditional banks only lent money to business people, industrialists, and wealthy families. The working class only had access to loan sharks, which charged prohibitive interest rates. To address this injustice, Alphonse Desjardins created a system where the working class became its own banker. Mouvement Desjardins has been acknowledged as a major builder of Quebec's economy.
Although co-operatives play a vital role in the economy, the federal government has shown little interest in them since the 2010 forum on co-operatives. I find it interesting that the motion calls on the federal government to recognize the important role co-operatives play, as though that were not yet proven. What the co-operative movement needs is concrete measures to help it sustain its growth and keep providing services to communities.
That is why the NDP is demanding that the federal government implement tax advantages to help co-operatives thrive. That is a meaningful measure that could be introduced as early as the next budget. It is in keeping with the premise of the motion, but it goes further still.
For such measures to be as effective as possible, the Liberal government should also improve access to information about co-operatives across the country. Once the federal government has properly identified the needs, it will be able to target them better.
In conclusion, I would like to point out that, in the previous Parliament, the Liberal Party moved a motion calling for a special committee to study the importance of co-operatives. The committee's report, published in 2012, did a good job of proving their economic importance, and the Liberal Party issued a supplementary opinion, which I do not have time to quote, unfortunately.
To sum up, I will obviously be voting for the motion in the hope that we begin to see its impact as soon as possible with respect to certain bills.
View Jacques Gourde Profile
Mr. Speaker, I would like to shine a light on a home-grown success, the Mouvement des caisses Desjardins. Founded in 1900 by Alphonse Desjardins in Lévis, where its headquarters are established, the credit union has distinguished itself this year as the second-strongest lender out of the 97 financial institutions on the list.
This year, short-term profits were maximized, which helped give the lender an advantage over the other banks.
Joining a caisse populaire makes you an owner. Alphonse Desjardins' idea was to pool individual resources to create a community. That way of thinking is completely in line with that of the Conservative government. We are working hard for all Quebeckers and Canadians so that Canada remains a prosperous country and a great place to live.
View Mauril Bélanger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mauril Bélanger Profile
2012-05-30 15:49 [p.8575]
That, a special committee be appointed to consider the status of cooperatives in Canada and to make recommendations by: (a) identifying the strategic role of cooperatives in our economy; (b) outlining a series of economic, fiscal and monetary policies for strengthening Canadian cooperatives as well as for protecting the jobs they create; (c) exploring the issue of capitalization of cooperatives, its causes, effects and potential solutions; (d) exploring whether the Canada Cooperatives Act of 1998 requires updating; (e) identifying what tools the government can use to provide greater support and a greater role to Canadian cooperatives; and that the committee consist of twelve members which shall include seven members from the government party, four members from the Official Opposition and one member from the Liberal Party, provided that the Chair is from the government party; that in addition to the Chair, there be one Vice-Chair from each of the opposition parties; that the committee have all of the powers of a Standing Committee as provided in the Standing Orders, as well as the power to travel, accompanied by the necessary staff, inside and outside of Canada, subject to the usual authorization from the House; that the members to serve on the said committee be appointed by the Whip of each party depositing with the Clerk of the House a list of his or her party’s members of the committee no later than June 8, 2012; that the quorum of the special committee be seven members for any proceedings, provided that at least a member of the opposition and of the government party be present; that membership substitutions be permitted to be made from time to time, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2); and that the Committee report its recommendations to this House no later than November 30, 2012.
He said: Mr. Speaker, to begin the debate I would like to quote UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in English and in French. In French, to mark International Year of Cooperatives, he said:
Les coopératives rappellent à la communauté internationale qu’il est possible d’allier la vitalité économique à la responsabilité sociale.
In English he said:
Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility
That is the message of this International Year of Cooperatives.
Given the declaration of the United Nations of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, I have been appointed as Liberal advocate for co-operatives by the Liberal leader, the member for Toronto Centre, earlier this month. I thank him for that.
The newly created role of advocate for co-operatives is based on openness, collaboration and awareness. It avoids partisanship to the greatest extent possible. It is meant to be a progressive, positive and evidence-based role. I fully intend to promote Canadian co-operatives and their values as well as assist them to the best of my abilities.
Since my appointment a little earlier this month, I have had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the two major national co-operative associations, the Canadian Co-operative Association and the Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité. I also toured some co-operatives, including an agricultural co-operative, the Coop AgriEst in Saint-Isidore, not far from here, which was established by proud eastern Ontario farmers. This co-operative is doing very well and has increased its sales from $10 million to $40 million in 10 years.
I also had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the new multi-service building of the Coopérative de solidarité multiservices Montauban, in Notre-Dame-de-Montauban, a small town with a population of less than 1,000 located north of Shawinigan. I was there with my Liberal colleague, the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain. I hope she will have time, a little later this afternoon, to talk more about this town's initiative.
Everything I have learned since my appointment from my meetings, visits, reading and personal experience has been confirmed by survey results published this week by iPolitics.
I quote from the text written by David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data. It is as follows:
In mid-May, Abacus Data was retained by the Canadian Co-operative Association to conduct a national public opinion survey to understand what Canadians know and how they feel about co-operatives. The results of the survey found a strong appetite among Canadians for the co-operative model and most Canadians, especially in Western Canada and Quebec, are already members of one or more.
Here are some of the key findings of the survey: Eight in ten Canadians (83%) said they would prefer to shop at a locally-owned business that shares its profit among member-owners and invests in the local community over a privately owned company that is part of a larger chain and well known throughout Canada. The respondents were told to assume price, service, quality, and convenience were all equal.
Over eight in ten Canadians (85%) had heard of a co-operative before, with awareness highest in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and the Prairie provinces.
A large majority of Canadians said they were either very or somewhat familiar with co-operatives, including credit unions. Ontarians and Quebecers were the least familiar with them.
Only 5% of Canadians were aware that 2012 is the International Year of Co-operatives.
The survey also asked respondents to complete an exercise in which they were shown a series of attributes that could apply to a business and asked whether the attribute best applied to a co-operative or another business. The survey found that Canadians clearly distinguish between co-operatives and other types of business.
Over eight in ten Canadians believed that co-operatives were better than other businesses in supporting their community’s values, having a democratic structure, supporting their local economy, and selling locally produced products. They were also perceived to be better in how they treat their employees and customers, and in their social and environmental practices.
As the Liberal advocate for Cooperatives, I believe that it is important to reach out, to meet with representatives of organizations, and to get out into the community to have a better understanding of the reality of Canada's co-operatives.
The motion has already been read and therefore I will not read it again. I believe it is quite straightforward.
I would like, however, to highlight that a great advantage of this motion is that it will give Parliament and Canadians and co-operatives across the country the ability to really participate in the International Year of Cooperatives. It will help focus the efforts that would be welcomed, perhaps needed, by the Government of Canada to eventually foster a greater milieu favourable to the co-operative sector.
As members know, co-operatives have long played an important role in the development of the Canadian economy. We need only think of agriculture and the first agricultural co-operatives established more than a century ago.
In a 2009 report from the CCA and the CCCN, two large national co-operative organizations, we learn that agricultural co-operatives in Canada have a long and fruitful history as drivers of rural economies and mainstays of many communities across the country.
I am sure my colleague from Malpeque will have more to say on that subject.
The oldest co-op in Ottawa is Alterna. Founded in 1908 as the Civil Service Savings and Loan Society, it was originally a credit union for public servants. Then, a few years later, the Caisse populaire Desjardins Rideau was created, which just celebrated its 100th anniversary.
In a way, the Desjardins Group, which today has over five million members, mainly in Quebec but also in other parts of the country, started here in this House. When the movement's founder, Alphonse Desjardins, was a clerk in this House, he was working to develop a legal framework that would lead to the creation of co-operatives, particularly financial ones, across the country.
He and his wife Dorimène then moved to Lévis where they started the Desjardins Group, which is now celebrating its 110th anniversary. This is the fifth largest financial institution in the country, which shows the significance of the co-operative movement in Canada.
In recent history, we can talk about housing co-operatives, which are much more than a simple place to live. A housing co-operative is a legal association based on co-operative principles that is formed to provide its members with permanent housing. In Canada, approximately a quarter of a million people live in housing co-operatives, which play a very important role in our economy and our communities.
Here are a few facts to justify setting up a special committee, as requested in the motion, to mark the International Year of Cooperatives.
Today, more than 18 million Canadians are members of co-operatives. This is a very impressive statistic. The website for the International Year of Cooperatives in Canada states that there are approximately 9,000 co-operatives in Canada, including more than 2,200 housing co-operatives, as I mentioned earlier, which are home to more than 250,000 people; there are more than 1,300 agricultural co-ops; more than 650 retail co-operatives; more than 900 credit unions and caisses populaires with close to 11 million members throughout the country; about 450 co-ops offering childcare or early childhood education—these co-ops, by the way, are Quebec's second-largest private employer; more than 600 worker co-ops—owned by the employees—with a total membership of over 13,000; and more than 100 healthcare co-operatives.
Today, co-operatives including credit unions control assets evaluated at more than $250 billion and employ more than 150,000 people. It is well known that the co-operative concept makes it possible to set up the kind of projects that lack the critical mass needed to trigger private sector investment. For instance, at least 2,000 communities are served by at least one credit union. More than 1,100—more than half of those 2,000 communities—have only one financial institution.
This means that 1,100 communities in Canada rely on the co-operative movement for their financial institution.
Here is another important fact: the survival rate of co-ops is higher than that of private sector businesses. In addition, the rate of job creation is extraordinary, as is the solidity of cooperatives during financial crises.
I would like to draw attention to some comments by Jean-François Lisée in an article published in L'actualité dated March 1, 2012. Mr. Lisée underlined the fact that co-ops are more resilient than private sector companies. In fact, among co-operatives, after five years of operation, the resiliency rate is said to be 77% higher than in the private sector, and after 10 years of operation, more than 54% of co-operatives are more resilient than private sector businesses.
The other advantage, of course, is that co-operatives do not relocate. We will never see a co-operative moving its jobs abroad in order to increase its profits, so this means greater solidarity and greater stability in these strong communities that invest in their own future.
There have been examples elsewhere in the world. Mr. Lisée gave the example of Argentina, where, when a business is in danger of going bankrupt or being shut down, the employees and management would be able to make the first offer to buy it and turn it into a co-operative. This interesting initiative was passed in Argentina last June.
Similarly, in France, when there is a public tendering process, a co-operative will win the contract. Those are two examples of countries that realized that having co-operatives and encouraging co-operative development in their country was beneficial.
Unfortunately, it is well known that co-operatives sometimes struggle to get the capital they need to get started and expand. A special committee could examine the cases and the potential solutions. Would it not also be helpful to treat financial investors in co-ops the same way as investors in private companies?
Lastly, as the motion states, the Canada Cooperatives Act was passed in 1998. It may be time to review it.
I believe that the government wants to propose an amendment. We will see about that shortly. However, I think that creating a special committee that would work until November—the motion requires the committee to report in November—would perhaps be the best way to show that Parliament is serious about the co-operative movement. Members must not forget that this movement exists in a number of sectors and not only in industry. It exists in the financial, health, child care and housing sectors. It is important for one committee to focus solely on this issue without having to deal with anything else. A standing House committee could end up examining a bill or House resolution or could end up having to take care of a crisis, and it would have to set aside its examination of this important motion during the International Year of Cooperatives.
That is why I think that appointing a special committee whose mandate would expire at the end of November would be the best way for Parliament and the government to show how serious they are. They should support co-operatives and ensure that, during the International Year of Cooperatives, they can take a closer look to see where it would be beneficial to add new programs, change the conditions of other programs or budget votes so that the co-operative world can benefit from them. We would all benefit from that.
That is what I wanted to say about the motion before us. I hope that the hon. members of the House will look favourably on this resolution, which is not partisan in the least. I have tried to avoid partisanship because I think there are people from all parts of the political spectrum in the co-operative movement. Political allegiances must not get in the way of considering this type of issue.
As parliamentarians, we have to appreciate the initiatives of our communities, appreciate the values they convey and strengthen them.
I hope that, over the course of this afternoon's debate, we will learn that the government has decided to support and vote in favour of this resolution.
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
View Thomas Mulcair Profile
2010-12-07 14:03 [p.6911]
Mr. Speaker, who would have believed that 110 years after Alphonse Desjardins literally sat down at his kitchen table and came up with the idea of a savings and loan co-operative, which he then made a reality, the Desjardins Movement would be awarded the prestigious Bank of the Year 2010—Canada award by British magazine The Banker, published by the Financial Times of London?
This is a tribute to the Desjardins Movement's financial strength, but it is the credit union's presence in our communities, the fact that its members participate in managing the movement, and its involvement in sustainable development that made Desjardins so deserving of this award.
Desjardins Group has just been awarded the title of Canadian bank of the year by the international financial affairs publication, The Banker, which is owned by the Financial Times of London. This recognition is well deserved for an institution which, for 110 years, has proven the wisdom of the co-operative model.
Congratulations to the Desjardins Movement.
View Steven Blaney Profile
View Steven Blaney Profile
2010-12-07 14:11 [p.6912]
Mr. Speaker, I have a passage to read.
You might say you have only a few pennies. I say that is just fine because with pennies we can work wonders.
Those prophetic words by Alphonse Desjardins, seconded by his loving wife Dorimène, eventually led to Canada's largest financial co-operative movement.
This week, we are celebrating the 110th anniversary of the founding of the first caisse populaire in Lévis.
Today, the Desjardins Group's fame has spread well beyond its headquarters in Lévis with almost 6 million members and assets worth over $175 billion. It is not surprising that the British magazine The Banker gave the Desjardins Group the prestigious title of “Bank of the Year 2010 - Canada”
As the member for Lévis—Bellechasse, I join my voice to that of all the political parties and all hon. members of the House to offer the members of Desjardins, its staff, its talented president Monique Leroux, and the president of the Lévis branch, that great Lévis citizen Clément Samson, my best wishes and my most sincere congratulations.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Marc Garneau Profile
2010-12-06 14:05 [p.6842]
Mr. Speaker, today, I would like to congratulate Desjardins Group, which was awarded the title of “Bank of the Year 2010 - Canada” by the prestigious British magazine, The Banker, published by the Financial Times.
This is the first time in Desjardins's history that it has participated in this competition and it is the first time that a Canadian cooperative financial institution has won this prestigious title. Desjardins Group was certainly recognized for its performance and business model, but also for its corporate culture, its role as a leader in sustainable development, its community involvement and its charitable work around the world.
Desjardins Group is a Quebec and Canadian success story that we can all be proud of. It is a pleasure to congratulate it today on receiving this important honour.
View Robert Carrier Profile
View Robert Carrier Profile
2010-12-06 14:07 [p.6842]
Mr. Speaker, on December 6, 1900, Dorimène Roy-Desjardins and Alphonse Desjardins founded a financial co-operative movement in Quebec.
One hundred and ten years later, Desjardins Group has been awarded a 2010 Bank of the Year award by The Banker, a publication of the Financial Times of London, England.
With 5.8 million members and clients, 6,200 elected officers running its credit unions, caisses populaires and other organizations, as well as 42,200 employees, Quebec's co-operative model was rewarded for the professional management of its $157.2 billion in assets.
Its community roots, participatory democracy and local involvement were also commended. Last month it also received the Quebec corporate citizenship prize for its social agenda, notably its sustainable development policies.
I would like to congratulate the Desjardins Group, an institution that so wonderfully highlights Quebec's distinct character.
View Nicole Demers Profile
View Nicole Demers Profile
2010-04-12 13:21 [p.1332]
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech and she is right on several counts, particularly concerning the fact that this budget does not fulfill the goals of Quebeckers and Canadians.
This is confirmed by the fact that, in all 880 pages of the budget implementation bill, there is absolutely nothing for women. I have to wonder what this government has against women. Why does it refuse to recognize 52% of the population, and always prepare budgets, and budget implementation bills that completely ignore this segment of the population?
Worse still, we submitted some very sensible, very pertinent proposals to the government concerning certain issues. None of our proposals appears in the 2010-11 budget implementation bill. Freezing the salaries of MPs and senators does not matter all that much. However, refusing to improve access to employment insurance for our workers is indeed a serious matter. It is appalling.
I did not see a single measure in this budget that would allow me to believe that the government has learned anything over the past two years, that it learned anything from the presentations and demands—made before various committees—to restore certain programs and measures that were cut over the past four years. Women are the big losers in budget 2010-11.
If this budget had included a section telling us that the court challenges program was being restored, that would have made it much more interesting. If it had included measures to bring back the 16 Status of Women offices, we could have found something positive in this budget; but it does not contain any of that.
The budget included money for first nations women, specifically, for the Sisters in Spirit initiative. However, we do not know where that money will go. We do not know if the Sisters in Spirit program will benefit from it, or if the Department of Justice or Department of Public Safety will develop projects or programs using that money as they see fit. It would have been interesting to get more details.
We also saw that instead of making it easier for people to access employment insurance benefits, the government is going to take the money from the EI fund, just as it did in 1995, a total of $57 billion as of March 30. Once again, the government is going to rob those who work five, six or seven days a week to make a living. Once again, the government is taking the money they invested in the EI fund to protect themselves against layoffs and hard times. They will not have access to that money.
It is hard to believe that the government has people's best interests at heart when it says it is going to allow Canada Post to privatize some of its services. I have a hard time believing that this is a good thing.
I have a hard time believing that the caisses populaires Desjardins—of which I have been a member for many years and where I do my banking—want to have to have a federal charter to keep doing business. We are told that this would be done on a voluntary basis. But we know that when the government says something is being done on a voluntary basis in the financial markets, the word “voluntary” does not have the same meaning.
It is possible to be caught in a vise and forced to meet certain criteria. The caisses populaires Desjardins might have to comply with these new rules. Certainly, the banks would not agree to let the caisses populaires Desjardins keep on selling insurance and to allow Quebec to keep the system it has.
The budget does nothing to fulfill Quebeckers' goals, let alone those of Canadians. We heard this repeatedly at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. People came to testify about the Canada and Quebec pension plans. They told us time and time again that the plans were not designed to meet women's needs. And the budget does nothing to fix that.
The only women who have access to a valid pension plan are the ones who work in the public sector. Women who work in other sectors, including the private sector, do not have access to a pension plan that allows them to retire at 65. They will not have the money they need to live comfortably in retirement.
Clearly, we cannot ensure that everyone enjoys a comfortable retirement, but we can at least ensure that they have access to some retirement income.
The budget implementation bill does not have a lot to offer to Quebec's forestry and manufacturing industries or to our farmers and our children. However, it does encroach on Quebec's jurisdiction over health by investing in the Rick Hansen Foundation and over education by investing in the pathways to education program.
Rather than continue to encroach on those areas of jurisdiction, the government should ensure that provincial transfers are carried out properly, which is not the case right now. Quebec is short $663 million because the government did not transfer enough funds for the province to meet its needs.
It is true that Quebec has superior social programs. We pay taxes so that we can benefit from these superior social programs, and we are very proud of them. Quebeckers have access to preventive withdrawal and parental leave. Last year alone, 86,000 children were born in Quebec. It has been a long time since there have been so many births in Quebec. Mr. Speaker, I know that you are a big proponent of families. You have several children of your own.
All of that is because of the social programs we set up. We make different social choices.
The federal government should not punish us for making those social choices. It should not restrict transfers to Quebec. We are entitled to that money. Like everyone else in Canada, we help create wealth. We pay all of our taxes, and the government should give the provinces, including Quebec, their due, which it is not doing now.
The Bloc Québécois will not hesitate to vote against the budget implementation bill, as it always does.
View Steven Blaney Profile
View Steven Blaney Profile
2008-04-15 14:03 [p.4942]
Mr. Speaker, “In the near future, a woman will become president of a major Canadian financial institution”. This was the prediction made in 2006 by the woman who was elected, on March 15, as President and CEO of the Desjardins Group.
Ms. Monique Leroux is the first woman to hold the highest position at the largest financial cooperative movement in Canada in 108 years.
A talented musician and exceptional businesswoman, Ms. Leroux is already introducing some dynamic views on decentralization while maintaining her cooperative convictions. Established in Lévis, the cradle of the cooperative movement, Desjardins is the largest private employer in Quebec. Its 6 million members, 40,000 employees—including 8,500 in the Lévis and Quebec City areas—and assets of $144 billion, make Desjardins a strategic force in the Canadian economy.
Ms. Leroux is following in the footsteps of Alphonse Desjardins, who worked here in this House and who dedicated himself to the movement. I wish her all the best in her mandate at the service of the cooperative movement in Canada and abroad.
View Mauril Bélanger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mauril Bélanger Profile
2008-04-03 14:08 [p.4439]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight today the achievements of Alban D'Amours, a great manager in the field of cooperative finance. Mr. D'Amours has just completed a second four-year term at the head of the Desjardins cooperative movement.
Under his leadership, Desjardins Group has experienced eight years of sustained growth. Not only has business volume increased, but the member dividends have also increased. In addition, the movement has formed a new partnership with the Fédération des caisses populaires de l'Ontario and has signed service agreements with the Alliance des caisses populaires de l’Ontario and with numerous credit unions in other parts of the country. I could also pay great tribute to Développement international Desjardins.
Finally, I would like to congratulate the Desjardins Group for having chosen Monique Leroux as the new president and chief executive officer at its annual meeting. Ms. Leroux is the first woman president of the Desjardins Group and the first woman to lead a major financial institution in Canada.
Congratulations to Mr. D'Amours and much success to Ms. Leroux!
View Nicole Demers Profile
View Nicole Demers Profile
2008-04-02 14:12 [p.4359]
Mr. Speaker, on March 15, Monique Leroux became the first woman in 108 years to be elected as the president and chief executive officer of the Desjardins Group. She is also the world's first female president of a major financial institution.
Ms. Leroux, who is 53, has served as Desjardins' chief financial officer since 2004. She was named one of Canada's top 100 most powerful women, and one of the top 25 women to watch in 2008. Last year, she received a leadership award from the Association des femmes en finance du Québec.
This appointment is the crowning achievement of Ms. Leroux's impressive career. She was an auditor with Ernst & Young, president of the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec, the Royal Bank's vice-president for the Quebec region, and vice-president and chief of operations with Quebecor.
Congratulations, Ms. Leroux. You are a model of success and accomplishment for all Quebeckers, both men and women. My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I wish you every success in your new job.
View Jean-Yves Laforest Profile
View Jean-Yves Laforest Profile
2008-02-28 11:20 [p.3406]
Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.
I was listening to the Conservative colleague who spoke just before me and he said that the budget, presented by the Minister of Finance, will help Canadians. I would like to finish his sentence by saying that it might help Canadians, but it will not help Quebeckers. This budget completely ignores Quebec's traditional demands, which have been expressed by a number of stakeholders in Quebec.
In reaction to this budget, the Leader of the Bloc Québécois said that it does not provide any significant gains for Quebec. That is why I am saying it gives absolutely nothing to Quebeckers. There is no reason for the Bloc Québécois to vote in favour of this budget. Through its budget, the Conservative government is truly showing its right-wing ideology, which does not reflect the interests and values of Quebec. We really see that in this budget.
Yesterday morning, a number of newspapers in Quebec reported on the general sentiment about this budget in Quebec. Alain Dubuc, from La Presse, summed up this sentiment quite well:
This lack of vision can be explained by the conservative philosophy of the [name of prime minister]government, which does not believe in the role of the state and avoids economic intervention like the plague. It is an outdated conservatism that is not found anywhere else in the west.
We feel that it is Quebeckers who will foot the bill for this ideology. This budget utterly lacks vision. The crisis in the manufacturing and forestry industries is getting worse and thousands of workers are paying the price. I know all about it because if there is a riding that has depended on the forestry industry for years, where the economy for the most part is centred on forestry and manufacturing, it is my riding of Saint-Maurice—Champlain.
For years now we have felt like the Conservative government is completely absent from any sort of “aid” process. We can feel it. People expected this government, which had a $10.3 billion surplus at its disposal, to allocate that money to help companies and workers, but it did not. People are dismayed and desperate.
This budget utterly lacks vision. It will not help families. Entire regions are in crisis, families are in crisis, and elderly people living below the poverty line feel that the federal government has abandoned them, even deceived them. During the last election campaign, the Conservatives promised to grant full retroactivity to those who had been cheated out of their fair share of the guaranteed income supplement, or who did not have access to it for various reasons. The Conservatives promised fully retroactive reimbursement, but they did not keep that promise even though they had $10 billion at their disposal. That is incomprehensible.
Things are happening. Education should be public priority number one, because we know there will be a shortage of skilled labour. Institutions are also chronically underfunded. There is nothing in this budget to suggest that the government is planning to increase transfers for post-secondary education. It looks as though the Conservative government missed the boat on this issue.
When it comes to the environment, humanity is struggling with one of the greatest environmental challenges in history. Everyone knows this. Increased greenhouse gases are having a negative impact on all human beings. Canada produces a lot of greenhouse gases, especially in the west and Alberta. Those emissions raise our national average. Quebec produces far less greenhouse gas emissions.
Quebec loses out on that score.
And now, to culture. The Quebec nation is a francophone nation that accounts for less than 2% of the population of North America. The government is well aware that the survival of the Quebec nation depends on cultural development, but there is nothing in the budget to improve the cultural system despite the benefits to be had from promoting francophone and Quebec culture more energetically.
It is clear that the challenges are great and the needs desperate. Yet we have a government full of dinosaurs that wants to use $10 billion to pay off the debt. Nobody in Quebec agrees with that. It is a crazy thing to do. This must be some kind of budget fanaticism. Whether the Liberals admit it or not, this kind of fanaticism is very bad for Quebec and for Canada, I am sure. Many Quebec commentators agree. Here is what Messrs. Dupuis and St-Maurice of the Desjardins group said:
Considering the massive needs in terms of urban infrastructure, environment, health and education, and the difficulties many provinces have balancing their budgets, we suggested that the government use any surplus beyond that objective to improve our competitiveness, help the provinces struggling to balance their budgets or help municipalities address their growing infrastructure needs.
The Conservative government listened to no one, blinded by its own ideology. It turned a deaf ear to Quebec.
I would also like to share some remarks made by Quebec's finance minister, Ms. Jérôme-Forget. She said that the Conservative government makes choices that do not reflect Quebec's priorities. She went on to say:
I am disappointed because there was a $20 billion margin in the context of an economic slowdown. We were hoping the government would do more for older workers and for the manufacturing and forestry industries in Quebec.
The leader of the Action démocratique du Québec, a friend of the Conservatives, also said that the aid for the manufacturing and forestry industries was not enough. As well, he mentioned the $1 billion shortfall in post-secondary education transfers. He was of course alluding to the issue of the fiscal imbalance, which is nowhere near resolved, if only because of this major oversight by the Conservative government in its budget.
The day after the budget was tabled, the president and CEO of the Quebec Forest Industry Council said:
I have no doubt that the Harper government has just thrown in the towel and wants market forces to clean up the forestry industry, instead of providing support that could have prevented some of the problems.
That is the reality. Soon, there will be more problems, and more businesses in Quebec's manufacturing and forestry industries will shut down. Once again, there will be more completely senseless human tragedies, when the government could have intervened.
All things considered, the worst injustice of all is being committed against our seniors. When he was in opposition, the Prime Minister had promised to pay back seniors who had been cheated out of the guaranteed income supplement, as I mentioned earlier. The Prime Minister broke that promise. He turned his back on our seniors and the most vulnerable among them. Those who receive the guaranteed income supplement are indeed vulnerable people. The only thing they are being promised is that they can go to work to earn $3,500 instead of $500. These people, at 68, 69 or 70 years old, who have very little in the way of a support network and are often physically unwell, are being told that, if they need more money, they can work for a pittance at Wal-Mart or some other such place. That is the only way the government wants to help them. It is absolutely unbelievable.
I have talked about culture, the environment and our seniors.
Everyone knows how often the Bloc Québécois has repeated that the government also abandoned the Kyoto protocol and that it absolutely must reinvest to ensure that we can one day do our share. Quebec is doing its share. We expect the same thing from the Conservative government, so it can help us continue.
View Paul Crête Profile
Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak to Bill C-26. After examining this bill in the parliamentary committee, I thought that it would be very favourably received since the Government of Quebec has had legislation for the last two decades that manages the payday loans issue through the Office de la protection du consommateur.
Quebeckers who are listening to the debate today must be wondering why this question has still not been resolved. They must be asking themselves, "Is there not legislation under which this issue could be dealt with?" The answer is no. In the rest of Canada, that is not the case.
I saw this in committee. The representatives of the three federalist parties joined together and systematically, and very firmly, opposed a slight amendment being made to provide that in the event that a province—such as Quebec—already had a law that addressed this issue adequately, no in-depth study would be done. The jurisdiction of the province would be respected. The provincial authorities have decided that this is the right approach. At that point, notice would simply be taken that the law and the mechanics were already in place. That is the law that would prevail.
The payday loans question is important because it often affects people with very low incomes or people who suddenly need financial loans. In the rest of Canada, a flourishing industry has developed that engages in all sorts of conduct. Some work according to all the rules, others less so. I perfectly understand that there would be a desire to deal with this issue. The Bloc has never objected to this kind of legislation being applied in the provinces where there is not already legislation in this area and where the provinces decide to apply it.
Our opposition to the bill arises out of the fact that there is already a law in Quebec. My colleague said earlier that he had a problem with the Bloc's approach and that he needed proof. This is not the Bloc's approach; it is Quebec's approach.
The present federalist liberal government in Quebec City is of the same view as the Bloc on this point. We have checked with the office of the minister. The office of the minister wanted Quebec to be able to say, by giving notice to the federal government, “We already have legislation that deals with the question of payday loans, and accordingly it is that legislation that will apply in Quebec.”
In actual fact, though, this is not the answer we received. The provincial government will have to submit its legislation to the federal government. There will be studies of the appropriateness of the bill and how we are dealing with this problem. Then it will be referred to the Governor in Council. It is quite a production.
Although this is a provincial jurisdiction, that is to say, an area that is Quebec’s responsibility, and although Quebec has had 20 years of experience and there are no problems with the application of the law, we still have to go and seek the blessing of our big brother in Ottawa.
It is totally incomprehensible that a Conservative government like this one, which claimed that it would show more respect for areas of provincial jurisdiction, would act in this way. There is even talk of a bill to provide a framework for the federal government’s spending power.
They say that Quebec is a nation. The Prime Minister himself introduced a motion in the House to this effect. But at the first opportunity, when they finally have a chance to show they are going to do things differently, the bulldozer is there ready to go. The steamroller is right there. They are going to standardize everything all across Canada.
The provinces will all be required to justify their legislation. Even 20 years of experience in this area does not matter. According to the federal government, that is not how these issues can be resolved.
It is important to know that under the practices developed in Quebec over the years, the maximum currently acceptable rate is 35%. That is very different from what is seen in the rest of Canada. Thanks to the Office de la protection du consommateur, the various roles are well defined and understood. We do not have any problems with this industry. To the extent that it exists, particular practices have been accepted and excesses are prohibited. Quebeckers are legally entitled to a maximum rate of about 35%.
People who want to make a pile of money in a hurry on the backs of those who are not very well off financially by providing these kinds of services have less incentive to try to do so.
The Criminal Code refers to a rate of 60%. Now, the government wants each province to pass legislation in this area if it sees fit, whereas Quebec has already done so.
The bill states that the federal government will designate provinces. It is therefore giving itself the right to veto the measures taken by a province that requests an exemption. A province cannot just send a letter to say that it already has legislation in place. A province that has legislation like what Quebec has had for 20 years must come, hat in hand, and ask for an exemption from a government that has been unable to solve this problem for 25 years. It is like saying, “We have a law. Will you let us enforce it?” This is typical of the federal government, especially senior bureaucrats, who want to have “One Canada, One Nation“ here in Ottawa.
The reality is quite a different matter. Obviously, jurisdictional legislation will not change the world, but this is an example of a situation where, in a year when the federal government recognized Quebec as a nation, it is also telling Quebec: “You are a nation, but when it comes to payday loans, we do not recognize what you are doing and we want the right to give our OK”. This is the federal government's double standard.
In its policy statements and in its day-to-day behaviour, the government is taking the old approach that Quebeckers have often criticized. We hope that payday loans can continue to be dealt with the way they have been by the Government of Quebec and that the federal government will end up giving its blessing very quickly. The fact remains that this is written in law. This is something that is inconsistent with sharing jurisdictions and does not respect the expertise developed over the years.
There is no doubt that in the rest of Canada it is important to have a way to deal with this situation. We know this by the letters received from people who tell us about what is going on in the rest of Canada. There truly are behaviours that need to be brought into line. There needs to be a framework. Quebec has had this framework for 20 years now. If the provinces want to see how it works, they can contact the Government of Quebec to see the method that was developed. If they want to use it, all the better. If they decide to do something else, that is their choice. There is no problem. We will respect their jurisdictions.
The position the Bloc Québécois is defending today is not one of “sovereignists”, it is the position of the Government of Quebec, the current federalist government and the previous governments of Quebec. It is governments and people who have witnessed the role of the Office de la protection du consommateur. These are people who represented very different opinions on a national level, people such as Ms. Bacon, who is in the other place, and Ms. Payette, who was a Quebec minister for the Parti Québécois. She brought about some significant changes in our society and continues to do so today through her writings. These were people with very different opinions, but they had a frame of reference at the Office de la protection du consommateur, which is an example and a very interesting model. Today, Quebec is getting a rather discouraging message from the federal government.
I was even more surprised by the attitude in committee. Tomorrow in the Committee on Industry, a report will be tabled on the manufacturing sector and, without revealing the content of the report, it will be quite unequivocal about the action that should be taken in this sector.
Now, when a question of jurisdiction arises and a tiny change is needed in our legislation to ensure that Quebec's areas of jurisdiction are being respected, the three federalist parties rise to say: “No, we cannot spend time on a small amendment. There is no satisfying Quebec on this. Quebec must conform to the same requirements as the others”. This is an example of what we have seen in the past, and there are many such examples. We did not think we would see it again here today in a bill such as the one now before us.
With respect to the payday loan industry, we are told that it arose in Canada mainly in the early 1990s. I believe the Office de la protection du consommateur was already regulating the loan sector to some extent. This is likely why Quebec did not experience any serious abuses in this industry.
Jurisdiction is shared to a certain degree, since Quebec and the provinces have responsibility for local trade and commerce and civil law. There is also shared jurisdiction over contracts and consumer protection.
The federal government estimates that this industry now comprises more than 1,300 points of sale. Their distribution is very uneven and Quebec has very few such businesses. In practice, anyone in Quebec who is listening to this debate likely believes that this issue has already been resolved and must be wondering why a new bill has been introduced on this topic. I would like to explain to them that the industry grew at very different rates in Quebec and in Canada.
Little is heard about this issue in Quebec, because it has been resolved for several years now, in fact, for decades. The new situation in the rest of Canada must be corrected. We agree with the substance of this bill. However, when it comes to respecting jurisdictions, the bill does not in any way meet Quebec's requirements.
When I was working in committee on this issue, thanks to the marvels of modern communication technology, I received notices from the Government of Quebec, calling for a debate to pass the proposed amendment.
Meanwhile, members of the various parties said that it was not an important issue. The deputy minister of the department, the senior public servant, had just told us that this would not have any implications for Quebec and that it was wrong to believe that federal approval would be required. Just then, I received a cabinet memo from the Quebec Minister of Justice on my Blackberry stating the exact opposite.
Such a striking example shows us that there are still too many things to be changed in this system for there to be true respect. If there is no respect for our jurisdiction in matters such as this one, which is very important, imagine what will happen with even more significant issues.
Individuals are forced to borrow money against their wages and have to deal with people who charge ridiculous rates. There must be oversight in this area.
On this matter I agree with my Liberal colleague from Prince Edward Island who spoke earlier. We must also examine the overall implications and what must be done. It is not true that the issue will be resolved by a mere rap on the knuckles of those who do wrong. An enforcement component must be put in place. However, there is also the question of the environment in which people work, as well as what is required of banking institutions.
My NDP colleague was saying that the banks have not done their job. I think there is some truth to that. In Quebec, we have the Desjardins movement. In recent years, profitability has been a major consideration, but it has nonetheless developed a means of helping individuals who are having a little more difficulty. This has prevented an unhealthy industry from emerging.
In my riding, credit unions have a special committee that looks at such issues when it is urgent. This has led to a more humane approach to these situations. This is what will have to be put in place by the provinces that need to develop legislation. With the bill before us, they will require federal government approval when they table their legislation. Perhaps this does not bother the other provinces and they agree with this way of doing things.
The government should have respected the fact that each province moves at its own pace. If the government truly respected jurisdiction in this matter, this bill would have contained an amendment making it possible for us to adopt it immediately. I sent amendments to each member of the committee. Making them would have indicated a change in attitude on the government's part toward recognizing Quebec's expertise in this matter, which is not currently the case. At the same time, the legislation would have been adopted faster so that the situation could be addressed appropriately in all Canadian provinces.
In light of these factors, I believe you will understand why the Bloc Québécois cannot vote for this bill in its current form: it does not respect Quebec's jurisdiction. There is still time for the federal government to amend the bill. We can easily reach a compromise. I would ask the government to check its source within the Quebec government because that government's position on this issue is the same as the Bloc Québécois'. The bill would be much more acceptable if it were amended to take into account Quebec's expertise and to respect its jurisdiction. It that were to happen, we would have the opportunity to adopt a functional bill as soon as possible, one that respects provincial jurisdiction and Quebec's jurisdiction in this matter and that recognizes the expertise we have developed.
Today, a quick look at every province reveals that there is one province where payday lending is not a problem: Quebec. The other provinces have a serious problem. That is clear from the members' eagerness to pass this bill even if it means encroaching on Quebec's jurisdiction in committee.
Today's debate in this House will make the public aware of this situation. Quebec is being treated like a child with respect to this practice. Quebec has the expertise, the jurisdiction and the power to implement its legislation, but the federal government is imposing its own way of dealing with the payday loan issue.
I hope that the members of this House will pay attention to what we are saying. I will be available to answer any questions and address any comments from colleagues who are not members of the committee but who would like to have a say in this matter.
View France Bonsant Profile
View France Bonsant Profile
2006-11-02 14:14 [p.4645]
Mr. Speaker, the people of the Eastern Townships are generous and help one another. No other conclusion could be reached after the record collection of $330,000 from the Maison Desjardins.
This idea got off to a modest start, but purchasing tickets for a chance to win the famous Maison Desjardins has now become a ritual.
Almost all the profits from the ticket sales go to various regional health foundations and health centres. The more people participate in the draw, the more our centres are assured of substantial revenues and of being able to provide better health services.
On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to congratulate the organizers of this event. Most of all, I would like to thank the people of the Eastern Townships for their record-breaking participation.
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