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Results: 1 - 15 of 222
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, today is World Oceans Day. My riding is landlocked, but beautiful rivers run through it: the Okanagan, Kettle, Slocan, Kootenay and the mighty Columbia. Each year, the ocean returns to my riding in the form of salmon; sockeye, chinook and n'titxw, as they are known in the Okanagan language. Salmon have nourished people in this region for millennia. Tragically, their numbers collapsed in the 20th century when dams were built throughout the Columbia system. Although a few managed to return each year to the Okanagan, the upper Columbia stocks were wiped out with the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam.
Thanks to the recovery efforts of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, salmon numbers in the Okanagan have increased dramatically in recent years, and I say Lim'limpt to them. The renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty opens the possibility that once again salmon will return to the upper Columbia, bringing the ocean back to the Kootenays.
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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-06 16:51
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I see.
Thank you, Ms. Dionne.
Mr. Brooks and Mr. Buonsante, we hear a lot about these plastic containers in the Pacific Ocean. In the other oceans of the world, are there the same kinds of plastic areas and about the same size?
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Keith Brooks
View Keith Brooks Profile
Keith Brooks
2019-05-06 16:52
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Yes, there's plastic. I mean there's a bunch of these gyres circulating whirlpools, where the water moves very slowly and isn't in major currents. That's where the plastic collects. It's not quite a floating island of garbage. It's actually a bunch of plastics that have broken down into pieces—they can be large pieces and small pieces—up and down through the water column. It's very difficult to clean up. It's not as though we can go out there and just hoover it all off the surface. It's up and down throughout the water column, and it's all different sizes.
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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-06 16:52
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How deep in the water does it go?
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Keith Brooks
View Keith Brooks Profile
Keith Brooks
2019-05-06 16:52
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Plastic has been found in the deepest ocean trench. As far down as we've gone, we've found plastic. We've found plastic in the High Arctic. It's everywhere they look and in every animal they test. They followed eight different people across the world. These were people with different diets and different ways of life, and in 100% of the feces samples that were tested, they found plastic. It's everywhere.
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Peter Ross
View Peter Ross Profile
Peter Ross
2019-04-10 15:36
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Thank you very much.
I'm delighted to join you today from rainy Vancouver via video link. My apologies for not being there in person.
My name is Dr. Peter Ross. I'm vice-president of research at the Ocean Wise Conservation Association in Vancouver.
We at Ocean Wise, formerly the Vancouver Aquarium, have been showcasing for over 25 years the harm that plastic can cause. Through a range of research, engagement and action initiatives, we have engaged individuals, communities, the private sector and the public sector in a number of positive, practical and solution-oriented ways. We believe that in order to solve the plastic pollution crisis, we need a team approach, one that is inclusive and speaks to the role and the potential of each and every Canadian. After all, plastic is all around each and every one of us: at home, at school, at work, at play and on the road.
I'll simply touch on a few key points that are important to us and salient in terms of the plastic pollution crisis, and steps that we can take as a country.
The first point I'll make is that plastic is everywhere. The plastic pollution issue is widespread and very real. Our great Canadian shoreline cleanup has been documenting the “dirty dozen” items on beaches across Canada for over 25 years. Our plastics laboratory first documented the widespread distribution of microplastics in the north Pacific Ocean in 2014, and we are currently finding tiny microplastics throughout the waters of the Arctic Ocean. Simply put, plastics of all sizes, shapes and kinds are found everywhere in the Canadian aquatic environment.
Second, plastic is being consumed by all creatures, big and small. Everywhere we look, we find plastic: from rubber boots found in the stomach of whales to microplastics found in oysters. Our researchers even discovered that zooplankton, the foundational group of animals that sustain life in the ocean, are mistaking tiny pieces of plastic for food in the north Pacific Ocean. Plastic now appears to be found throughout aquatic food webs.
Third, plastic is harmful. In that, I refer to plastic pollution being harmful. Plastic is frequently confused for food by albatross and sea turtles—as we've known for decades—and it represents a serious conservation threat to several species and populations. Plastic can block or damage the gut; it can smother, suffocate or drown; it can entangle, slow down or get in the way; it can deliver a cocktail of endocrine-disrupting chemicals to the consumer. Simply put, plastic is not nutritious. Our marine mammal rescue team, together with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, has been disentangling sea lions off the coast of British Columbia for several years, a costly and dangerous operation that is important but cannot deal with the many hundreds of marine mammals that are presently swimming about the ocean with packing straps, nets and lines around their necks.
Fourth, plastic pollution threatens the quality of traditional seafoods for indigenous communities on Canada's three coastlines. Coastal communities along our three ocean coastlines rely heavily on seafoods. In coastal British Columbia, we have shown that the average first nations consumer eats up to 15 times more seafood than the average Canadian. In the Arctic, this can be as much as 25 times more seafood than the average Canadian. This means that seafood is far more important to these individuals in these communities, and it means that plastic pollution in the oceans threatens the quality and safety of their seafood.
Fifth, plastic pollution is not just about unsightly litter. Litter and marine debris present obvious risks to sea life, but the smaller pieces of plastic, the barely visible or invisible to the human eye plastics, which we call microplastics, have emerged as a significant new concern over the past decade. Canada's leadership in banning the microbead, a deliberately manufactured microplastic particle, through CEPA regulations was novel and forward-looking, an easy win. It was low-hanging fruit, but while conducting research in the ocean, we rarely run into microbeads.
What we run into, rather, are broken-down bits of larger plastics. These are called secondary plastics or, in the case of very small ones, secondary microplastics. Where do these come from? There is evidence from our group and others that larger products and items like old bags, containers, shipping materials and microfibres from textiles are actually escaping their intended use or leaking into the environment.
Our plastics lab has partnered with Mountain Equipment Co-op, Arc'teryx, REI, Patagonia, Metro Vancouver, and Environment and Climate Change Canada to track fibres from clothing—that's right, clothing—from home laundry through municipal waste-water treatment plants to the ocean, using high-end forensic science technologies and study designs.
In 2018, we published the first study documenting microplastics in a Canadian waste-water treatment plant. That was here in Vancouver. In this study, we estimated that 1.8 trillion particles of plastic enter the plant every single year.
Some of this, of course, is very bad news, but I view the bad news as an opportunity. Bad news can lead to good news. Everyone seems to understand that we have a problem, be they school children or professionals, and this offers everyone today an attentive audience and an invaluable opportunity to engage and to lead. Every year, the world throws away 150 billion dollars' worth of single-use packaging materials. A sizeable reward awaits the innovator, and this is a leadership opportunity for Canadian industry.
I'd like to suggest that Canada can take advantage of opportunities in the following key areas.
Number one is innovation and collaboration. If we are to effectively tackle this problem, we'll need to identify the sources of plastics in the ocean so as to be able to track those back to source. This understanding is key to engaging the public, the private sector and waste management agencies, and it will support green design, source control, recycling and regulations.
Number two is expert advice. Science is needed to support the identification of solutions. This includes the application of engineering technologies and designs. Our approach at Ocean Wise has been to establish partnerships with industry and government to identify and facilitate solution-oriented opportunities. These include our microfibre partnership with apparel retailers, the hosting of stakeholder workshops, participation in G7 discussions in support of the ocean plastics charter, and invited presentations across Canada and around the world.
Number three is education and engagement. If we are to solve the plastic pollution crisis, we'll need to arm Canadians with a better understanding of the topic. Engaging Canadians of all walks of life should be a very high priority. We designed our plastic wise program with this in mind. Plastic wise was designed to reach millions of people in Canada and around the world through our Vancouver Aquarium exhibits, our digital stories and online content, our media interactions, and through lectures, panels and workshops.
I put it to you that the time is right. We have an audience. Canadians are waiting, and never in my career as a pollution expert have I encountered such a desire for answers, such an appetite for positive change and such an expression of interest from virtually every sector in society.
Canada can help with a cohesive, forward-looking approach that nurtures scientific discovery, industrial innovation, best practices, green design and a circular approach to the plastic economy. Plastic is not the only threat to the world's oceans, but it is a significant one. The plastic pollution crisis offers us a chance for creativity, discovery and innovation.
Thank you for your time.
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Bob Masterson
View Bob Masterson Profile
Bob Masterson
2019-04-10 15:51
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We're very pleased to be with you today on behalf of Canada's leading chemical and plastic resin manufacturers.
It will be no surprise to this group, but over the last year global citizens have demonstrated a very deep concern about plastic waste and marine litter. Last year, we took that as an opportunity to survey 1,500 Canadians, and we found that their views were very much in line with global attitudes—nine out of 10 Canadians surveyed indicated strong concerns about plastics.
While plastics and plastic litter are not a new issue for our industry and the work we've been doing—and Mr. Goetz just talked about that—certainly the speed with which public perception has changed caught our industry off guard. Our industry, both in Canada and globally, has responded very quickly and very meaningfully. The North American industry has struck a leadership position and made clear its support for a circular economy for plastics.
Ambitious goals have been established that would ensure that 100% of plastic packaging is designed to be recycled and recovered by 2030. We've also committed to working with all the other partners to make sure that by 2040 all plastic packaging is indeed reused, recycled and recovered. These goals were advanced before, but they fully align with the G7 ocean plastics charter, which was agreed to by Minister McKenna last year.
Additionally, this past January, our industry's global leaders launched the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. This was a partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Business Council For Sustainable Development, and Circulate Capital. Industry endowed that alliance with $1.5 billion U.S. to kick-start marine litter prevention projects in key developing countries. Imagine that. In six months, the global industry got together, agreed that this was a difficult problem, and pledged $1.5 billion towards it.
If we turn back to our survey results, we know that a strong majority of Canadians feel that they as consumers are responsible for the plastic litter problem. That result echoes what you would've seen in the CBC Marketplace survey issued last week. Canadians report that despite having broad access to recycling programs, they are extremely frustrated by the confusing rules for recycling and how those rules differ from home, to work, to play.
In Ontario, there are over 250 different municipal blue box programs. This is very frustrating to people. Personally, I can share with you that it's very confusing. In my household, we have four university degrees, and another one on the way, and we spend endless time arguing about the proper approach to recycling.
It shouldn't be that hard. We have to find a way to better educate people and to make the system work. There are jurisdictions that outperform us by seven to one in the amount of plastic material and other waste recovered and recycled. Surely if Japan and Scandinavia can figure it out, so can we in Canada. It does not have to be so confusing.
This confusion and lack of consistency contribute to the nearly 80% of post-consumer plastics that end up in Canadian landfills. As the other speakers have said already, that's a terrible waste of energy and precious resources.
I know the public has concerns about the amount of plastic in their lives. Before proposing any measures or actions, I think it's important that this committee understand why we're seeing that tremendous increase in plastic in our lives, at about twice the rate of global GDP growth.
Much of this committee's work over the past year has focused on the pressing issue of climate change. In many instances, plastics are the solution to the climate change problem, and that is a key contributor to the drive in growth. That includes lightweight, high-strength plastic composites in the automotive sector, improved insulation in the building sector, enormous quantities of plastic resins that are vital to the production of renewable energy from wind turbines and solar panels, as well as the very important role of plastic packaging in reducing food waste. I do hope you come back and ask the difficult question about why your cucumber is wrapped in plastic in your grocery store. Please ask that question.
We urge this committee to ensure that the proposed actions on post-consumer plastics do not undermine ongoing efforts to achieve our climate change objectives.
We're also aware that this committee has questions regarding chemicals in plastics, and we would ask you to reflect on the months dedicated to your review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, including Canada's world-leading chemicals management plan. We urge the committee to recognize that CMP is the appropriate process for considering the risks of chemical substances, including plastics, in any aspect of commerce.
Indeed, over the past several years, many of the substances that have been identified as possible concerns with respect to plastics have been assessed and, where appropriate, risk management actions have been implemented through CMP. These include BPA, phthalates, flame retardants, dyes, pigments, microbeads in personal care products—which we've just heard about—and more than 350 different plastic polymers. I could provide a longer list, but my point is to encourage this committee to place its emphasis on the areas that most need attention: improved plastic reuse, recycling and recovery. There would be very little value for this study to repeat the ground covered by your comprehensive CEPA review.
Instead, our advice to you is to focus attention on defining the appropriate role for the activities of the federal government to support the national zero plastic waste action plan to be delivered this June. From our perspective, we see three key areas for the federal government to play a role.
The first is certainly working with provinces and municipalities to better educate Canadians and to standardize the collection and the sorting, as well as the functioning of EPR markets for post-consumer materials.
Second, consider the needs and means to expand what we have, which is a paucity of modern recycling and recovery infrastructure across Canada. Many of the plastic materials going to the landfill could be easily recycled with investments in more modern infrastructure. We often hear people talk about black polystyrene, that we can't recycle that. Maybe you couldn't 20 years ago, but with optical readers in modern facilities now, it's just another material. It's very easily recovered, but you have to have more modern infrastructure.
Finally, we would encourage this committee to forgo short-term actions on bans covering a limited range of plastic products. This will distract attention from the need for a very comprehensive shift to a circular economy for plastics and could lead to unintended environmental outcomes.
I'll conclude by saying again that the study by this committee is very important and welcome. We thank you for this opportunity to share our perspectives, and we certainly look forward to whatever questions you may have.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Okay.
Mr. Thurlow, it's good to see you again, sir.
On fire bags, you outlined the jurisdictions where these bags are feeding into the penstock. This is interesting in many respects, because the big story now in the fisheries area is about plastic getting into our oceans. How does this fit in? I know there are plastics, and from a terrestrial standpoint I see that you put it in the fire bag instead of putting it out, and you convert it and it goes to the penstock.
Can you offer a solution for those of us...? I'm co-chair of the oceans caucus, so I'm looking for an answer. Tell me you have wonderful things to tell me and we're going to save the oceans.
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W. Scott Thurlow
View W. Scott Thurlow Profile
W. Scott Thurlow
2018-12-06 17:06
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I would tell you that by reducing the amount of plastic we use as consumers, we are contributing to saving the oceans, but—
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W. Scott Thurlow
View W. Scott Thurlow Profile
W. Scott Thurlow
2018-12-06 17:07
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To the best of our knowledge.... I have not seen something about recovering fisheries technology in a way that pencils out, but certainly that's something we could look into.
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View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
This is a government that's willing to spend on infrastructure but hasn't necessarily done so in those areas, so that's a good ask.
The oceans protection plan's anchorages initiative is something that has been announced and it's looking at this very situation. What are your impressions of that program's effectiveness?
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Chris Straw
View Chris Straw Profile
Chris Straw
2018-10-18 10:26
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Our key focus of engagement with Transport Canada is through the anchorages initiative. I will point out that when it was announced we were surprised that the overall budget allocated for this three-year review of the entire anchorage system across the country was only $500,000. I think members of this committee would know you can't do much studying of anything for that amount. Our main concern is that the study actually takes a detailed look at the situation to not only investigate all the available options but also to figure out exactly what's going on.
With respect to the economic side, there's also the impact that they're having, and the anchorages initiative has agreed that it should be looking at the environmental, social and health impacts of these anchorages as well. Our concerns are that they're not well placed to be able to do that with the resources they have, and we're finding that they're already way behind in the timelines that have been proposed.
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Isabelle Bérard
View Isabelle Bérard Profile
Isabelle Bérard
2018-10-16 15:39
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am pleased to be here today to speak about Canada's climate leadership on the international stage.
My name is Isabelle Bérard and I am the assistant deputy minister of the international affairs branch at Environment and Climate Change Canada, or ECCC.
I am joined today by colleagues from my department: Matt Jones, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Pan-Canadian Framework Implementation Office; Catherine Steward, Canada's Chief Negotiator for Climate Change and Director General for Multilateral Affairs and Climate Change; Lucie Desforges, Director General of Bilateral Affairs and Trade Directorate; and Erin Silsbe, Acting Director, G7 Task Team. I am also joined by my colleague from Global Affairs Canada, Anar Mamdani, Director of Environment.
I would like to begin with an overview of ECCC's international engagement. I will then turn to my colleague from Global Affairs Canada who will describe her department's activities on climate change from the broader development assistance perspective.
When it comes to international engagement, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, is the primary forum for advancing global climate action. I’m very pleased to note that Canada is a key player in this arena. There is a lot of growing momentum, by all actors, on climate change. The growth in size and scope of the UN climate change conference, or COP, is a clear reflection of this reality.
Under the UNFCCC, the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, establishes global climate goals, including to limit the increase in global temperatures to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.
Canada is a strong advocate of the Paris Agreement because it has obligations for all parties. Under the UNFCCC, what we are doing now is negotiating the implementation guidelines for the agreement, often referred to as the Paris rule book. In general, these guidelines will set out how each party will communicate its plans and actions to address climate change, how it will measure and report transparently on progress and how this information will be used to measure global progress.
The robust and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement is a top priority for Canada. We know that the adoption of common and robust guidelines for all countries will promote ambitious, credible and transparent climate action.
The Paris Agreement also offers the possibility to co-operate with other countries using market-based measures. Markets can help increase mitigation ambition and provide the incentive for public and private investment to achieve the necessary shift toward low-carbon pathways.
Last, if we are to successfully implement the Paris Agreement, we know that we need to continue to deliver on climate finance. As you may know, Canada is delivering $2.65 billion over five years to help developing countries transition to low-carbon, sustainable and resilient growth. Canada has already announced over $1.2 billion of this commitment, providing direction and stability to developing country partners. I will leave it to Anar Mamdani to provide further details on this commitment.
We believe fundamentally that the Paris Agreement will help drive global ambition on climate change. But there are other ways that Canada is providing global leadership on this front.
For example, on the margins of COP23 last year, Canada and the United Kingdom launched the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which is a voluntary coalition of governments, businesses and organizations that are helping to end the use of unabated coal power around the world. The Alliance continues to grow, with 74 members now who recognize the value of this initiative.
Canada has also demonstrated global leadership this past year through the G7 presidency. Just this past September, Minister McKenna hosted the G7 environment ministers' meeting and co-hosted the G7 joint ministerial session on climate change, oceans and clean energy.
We had good exchanges among G7 ministers and representatives of business and civil society on several important issues related to environment, oceans and energy. For example, we saw a number of countries, such as Jamaica and Norway, as well as major multinational businesses, such as Unilever and Volvo, make important commitments to reduce plastic pollution by supporting the Oceans Plastics Charter announced at the Charlevoix G7 Summit. G7 members also came together to establish a G7 Innovation Challenge to address marine plastic litter.
I would like to highlight a few more international initiatives that my branch has helped to further this past year.
For one, Canada, along with China and the European Union, launched the ministerial on climate action, and has co-hosted two meetings among ministers to identify common ground towards adopting the Paris “Rulebook”.
Last May, Minister McKenna also hosted the “Climate Leaders’ Summit: Women Kicking It on Climate”, which brought together high-level women influencers from all sectors to develop climate change solutions that contribute to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
My branch also does a lot of work to advance our bilateral relationships around the world. ECCC works in close collaboration with several countries to advance Canada’s international climate change and environmental protection agenda.
For example, in North America, Canada undertakes co-operative work with the United States and Mexico under the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, the CEC, which is a trilateral organization that has facilitated environmental work since 1994. Under the CEC, parties are committed to continuing this existing co-operation as part of a new environmental co-operation agreement that is being negotiated.
In November 2017, Canada joined with like-minded U.S. states and Mexico to create the North American climate leadership dialogue, committing to work co-operatively on clean transportation, vehicle efficiency, and clean power, and on reducing short-lived climate pollutants. In September 2018, a new statement was endorsed in San Francisco.
Another key partner that we have been working with is China. During Prime Minister Trudeau's visit to China in December 2017, he and his Chinese counterpart issued a joint leaders' statement on climate change and clean growth. This statement establishes the new ministerial dialogues on climate change, environment and energy and recognizes the leading role that Canada plays in the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, CCICED, for which Minister McKenna is the international executive vice-chair.
We also have considerable engagement with Europe. Canada and the EU have strong bilateral relations on the environment and climate change. On May 24, Canada hosted the Canada-EU high-level dialogue on climate change to share expertise on climate change issues and negotiations.
On April 16, 2018, the France-Canada climate and environment partnership was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron. The partnership includes nine areas of co-operation.
Canada is also working with the U.K. on issues such as climate change adaptation, carbon pricing and phasing out traditional coal under the Canada-U.K. partnership, which was announced by Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister May in September 2017.
ECCC also works closely with Global Affairs Canada to advance Canada's trade and environment objectives which are based on the principle that trade and environment are mutually supportive. A prime example is the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
The USMCA incorporates the most ambitious environment commitments Canada has ever included in a trade agreement. It integrates substantive environmental provisions into an environment chapter, subject to dispute resolution, which aims to level the playing field by ensuring parties do not lower their levels of protection to attract trade or investment.
This chapter also includes new commitments to address a range of global environmental issues, such as illegal wildlife trade, sustainable fisheries and forestry management, species at risk, conservation of biological diversity, air quality and marine litter.
To conclude, I would note again that Canada's significant engagement on climate change on the international scene is designed to build trust and capacity among parties for progress on climate goals, to ensure that leading emitters—developed and developing countries—are accountable, and to create conditions for innovation and clean growth for all.
Thank you for your time.
I would now like to turn to my colleague from Global Affairs Canada.
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View Wayne Stetski Profile
NDP (BC)
View Wayne Stetski Profile
2018-10-04 16:21
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Okay.
I have a question then for Mr. Morel on aquatic ecosystems. Are you responsible for science in that section?
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