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Thursday, February 24, 2005


On Monday, new U.S. ambassador Frank McKenna said we were in. Then, Foreign Affairs minister Pierre Pettigrew apparently told the Americans on Tuesday we were out. On Wednesday, the PM said he hadn't  even decided yet. Today, the government made an official announcement: Canada is not joining the ballistic missile defense program.

All we can do now is hope the story changes again tomorrow.

Posted by Kevin Libin on February 24, 2005 | Permalink


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Feb. 24 - US Amb. Paul Cellucci reflects the confusion of many Americans:"We don't get it," Paul Cellucci said in Toronto. "If there's a missile incoming, and it's heading toward Canada, you are going to leave it up to the... [Read More]

Tracked on 2005-02-24 10:38:03 PM


Look - there's nothing to join; i.e., there's nothing for Canada to join-in-contribution. The whole thing requires no money, no work, no troops, no information, no blah. Just the spirit of that famed, or erstwhile famed, Canadian 'multilateralism' and that spirit of co-operation that is, we've been told again and again, so quinessentially Canadian. Hey - haven't we been told 'The World Needs More Canada'???? I wonder what exactly that 'more' refers to???

We are, 'de facto' in, but it would be nice if we head-in-the-sands-Canucks could 'de jure' acknowledge reality once in a while. The US requires nothing from us; they know we have nothing to offer, ...other than our sage experience, our wisdom of whatever and our warm socialist hand across the border.

If anyone thinks for a nanosecond that the US is now going to bother to ask Canada for 'airspace permission' if they pick up signals of an incoming missile - they need more than a coffee and vodka pick-me-up. All that the US was asking, was that Canada effectively acknowledge that it, Canada, exists as a separate country and therefore, that IF signals were picked up on an incoming missile, Canada would inform the US, and also, Canada would expect that the US would inform Canada.
That's over. Canada is effectively Invisible. It won't be asked for even a snowflake.

Canada has effectively told the world: "we are not involved; we are not involved; that is the definition of our sovereignty. Non-involvement in your troubles. But - we can supply teachers to solve your problems. In Jordan of course; not hot spots. Just ask us". Remember DART? Our defence minister claimed that it hadn't been sent out because no-one had asked for it. "Just ask us".
That's the Canadian Way.

Posted by: ET | 2005-02-24 1:04:26 PM

It seems to me the diffence boils down to the difference between: (1) hey, Canada, we're just about to shoot down a missile over Quebec and (2) hey, Canada, we just shot down a missile over Quebec.

More seriously, who has seen an actual analysis of what the Americans where looking for polital backing vs funding vs military cooperation etc. Also, what is NORADS role in missle defence. What, is the intent and implication of the changes Canada made last year.

Some real information would be useful.

Posted by: KevinG | 2005-02-24 1:30:29 PM

That most excellent publication, The Western Standard, provided exactly the analysis and explanation you seek, KevinG, in a recent cover story:


As the writer, Andrea Mrozek, explains:

"In August, the Canadian government quietly signed an amendment to the mandate of NORAD--the North American Aerospace Defence Command--broadening the joint Canadian–U.S. office’s power to oversee BMD. As Michael Kergin, Canada’s ambassador to Washington, wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell at the time: “In light of the growing threat involving the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, our two Governments should explore extending our partnership to include cooperation in missile defence, as an appropriate response to these new threats and as a useful complement to our non-proliferation efforts.”

As half of the command force, Canada’s signature was required to allow NORAD to assist with BMD. Still, our government made it clear that it was not yet prepared to actually help in that capacity. There is no memorandum of understanding, the official nod from Ottawa that it is fully engaging with the BMD program. And as Kergin took pains to point out, the decision to let NORAD help with BMD “is independent of any discussion on possible cooperation on missile defence.” The way things stand now, Canada is more than happy to help NORAD blow out of the sky any planes filled with people that threaten to bomb us, but not to destroy unmanned rockets of metal perfectly capable of achieving the same thing.


Right now, BMD is actually part of another military office, U.S. Northern Command, or Northcom, a part of strategic U.S. defence created after the attacks of 9/11, in part because of Canadian unwillingness to agree to BMD. Northcom headquarters are actually co-located with NORAD’s at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado; the missile detection capabilities that NORAD has are critical to launching the BMD interceptors. Naturally, Americans who work for Northcom also work for NORAD. Not so the Canadians, which is why some military personnel like to joke about the fact that whenever BMD is discussed at NORAD, Canadian soldiers have to promise to close their eyes or leave the room. “Except for the accents and the flag on your shoulder, if you go into any of the NORAD operational centres you can interchange Canadians and Americans pretty well everywhere,” says Martin. If Ottawa ultimately balks at missile defence, things at NORAD are going to get pretty complicated for Canadians there."

Posted by: Kevin Libin | 2005-02-24 1:48:38 PM

and now, for the fallout...


It wont stop with our airspace, next it we be the uninhabited islands in the artic! If they decide they need to deploy missle defense systems there then they will do it unilaterally and what can we do about it?!........oh and what happens if they just happen to find some oil underneath while they are there? Martin is such an A&&H*LE!

Posted by: Headshaker | 2005-02-24 2:14:40 PM

The Yanks were looking for political support.

As it stands, I guess we don't care whether the US downs missiles over Canada or over the ocean. Nor will they.

Posted by: lrC | 2005-02-24 2:31:31 PM

I don't have anything brilliant to say about this, but a little cooperation and a little participation in the spirit of the thing would help a lot. A little acknowledgement that US-Canadian security issues and our mutual interests in North America are completely intertwined.

Maybe it is uncomfortable for some people, but our first priority has to be the welfare of the people of North America, and we're all in this together whether we like it or not.

Posted by: Greg outside Dallas | 2005-02-24 2:54:57 PM

I don't think the Americans needed political support from Canada for their missile defense system. They have a right to self-defense and that includes self-defense against modern modes of warfare; missiles. Now, IF the attack occurs, in part, over another nation, i.e., a missile moves over several nations on its way to the USA - then, it would be a matter of international courtesy to involve those several nations in this knowledge - and also, the information that the US will destroy that incoming missile.

Remember, all the hulabaloo about the USA and its 'unilateral decision' about Iraq (it wasn't such, but, the world, and Canada, is not terribly interested in veracity). So here, yet again, the US tries to get one of those other countries that might be affected by this incoming missile - involved.

Canada refuses to be involved. It essentially rejects even the possibility that a missile could travel over Canada. And of course, doesn't want to know about it anyway. So, the incoming missile continues on its way, over Canada, and Canada refuses to acknowledge it. The US hits it, and Canada must reject the hit, because it rejected the incoming missile in the first place.

Talk about a gov't - and population - living in a fictional text. Why don't we change the name of our country? Call it Our Never-Ever Land.

Posted by: ET | 2005-02-24 2:55:52 PM

I read the yahoo article hotlinked by Headshaker, here's a snipt

"Neither Martin nor Pettigrew explained precisely why they oppose missile defence, but opponents, including the NDP, argue it may trigger a new arms race. "

Could someone please explain to me how this will
trigger a new arms race. Besides the US who can afford a cold war style arms race ? The Russians don't the money and besides they already enough nukes to overwhelm the Missle Shield. They may modernize some of those forces but that's about it. I highly doubt "Oh my gosh the US is building a Missle Shield start building nukes" is what Beijing is thinking. Beijing will build more nukes but not because of the Missle Shield. Who else could get involved in an arms race with the US ? nobody.

I'd have more respect for the NDP if they would say they oppose the Missle Shield because they're anti-American, atleast that would be honest and more thought out then oh gee its gonna start an arms race.

The only thing Martin's decision will do is keep the liberal party from bleeding votes to the NDP and Bloc in the next election. Which I guess is what's best for the liberals, but what ends up being the worst for Canada.

Posted by: anti_liberal | 2005-02-24 3:07:13 PM

Happy Birthday Canadausa. You have laboured and brought forth the largest state in the Union. You have completed the Manifest Destiny; the Monroe Doctrine is ours.

There is no longer a border: Enjoy.

Stars & Stripes'r'us.

Tears in my eyes for the fallen. George Grant was correct.

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-02-24 3:32:46 PM

Exactly - that's what the decision is about. Mr. Dithers is concerned about only one thing - his re-election. He's not the leader of Canada; he's not concerned about Canada as a nation, or even, the good status of Canadian citizens. His sole concern is propaganda; namely, how can he set up a 'textual reality' where Canadians will elect him? Chretien was EXACTLY the same; Chretien was also interested in only one thing - his continued role as Prime Minister. He was not interested in the well-being of Canada or Canadians.

So- Martin thinks that by rejecting missile defense, he will get on his side, those NDP whom he might have just alienated in his budget. Martin is 'politiking'; in fact, since he took office, that is all he has done. Since the Canadian population is made up of a number of party loyalties, then, his focus has been to present himself to them, as 'their man'. To the NDP, he's been Mr. Anti-American, Mr. Nanny-State Day Care, Mr. Anti-Missile. To the Bloc, he's been the same (the Bloc are the Quebec version of the NDP), while flinging more and more and more money to Quebec.

[Isn't it interesting that Quebec is always a Have-Not province? WHY? What's its problem? It has the population base, it has the money, it has the resources, and it runs the federal gov't. Why is it still and always, a Have-Not province? Why does Quebec receive the most Heritage Canada funding, the most university research funding - about 8-10% more than its population base - while the rest of the country receives far less than its population base?]

To the Conservatives, Martin is appealing to them, by more money for Defense, and his minor tax cuts. But Martin's main aim is to take votes away from the NDP and Bloc. That's what his budget and anti-Americanism is all about.

Of course it's nonsense that missile defense will lead to escalated military 'wars'. Why isn't the NDP concerned about the huge arms sales to the ME and the Far East by France and the UK?

Posted by: ET | 2005-02-24 3:38:49 PM

@Kevin Libin: Thanks for the link. I'm still a little unclear what Bush wants in terms of 'supporting' BMD. The only support that makes any sense to me is political support. We have an international reputation that would be a valuable shield from international criticism.

I thinks there is more positioning to come. More refining of the Martin position will appear in the coming months. But, it was a very clear statement. Perhaps he has actually made a decision.

@Greg: I think there were a number of items in the budget that reflect an understanding that US-Canadian security interests are mutual interests -- a common security perimeter, border security, intelligence etc.

@anti_liberal: The arms race argument is not difficult to understand. The only thing required to defeat BMD is more missles or missles with multiple warheads or similar technology. If you have 20 missles and you are interested in being considered a threat, you built 200 more. This would require some strategic or tactical response from the US.

If you are a rogue state and you want to be a power holder, you build more missles.

Posted by: KevinG | 2005-02-24 4:01:55 PM

It's easy to understand why the Liberals (NDP Light) have taken the anti-American stance on missile defense. What should concern Western Standard readers is the apparent opposition from the so-called Conservatives. If prostrating in front of a few potential Quebec / Ontario voters is worth abandonment of reason and principles then forming a national government in Canada is not worth the moral cost. Western separatism anyone?

Posted by: John Chittick | 2005-02-24 4:19:04 PM

@KevinG - yes I understand the BMD is a numbers game. Build 30 or more missles and overwhelm it, this includes Russia, China, UK, France, and probably a few I've missed. States (NKorea, Iran, China) are inspired to build nukes not because of BMD, they'll build regardless of it. Also none of these (except China, but that's a story for the future) can afford $$$$ to get into a an arms race with the US. BMD = arms race is a weak arguement, you have to have more than one competitor to have a race, as for China an arms race is quite likely but again not because of BMD.

Anti BMD need another stronger arguement to convince me otherwise. Don't use money either as the Americans didn't ask us to contribute a dime. The decision is entirely politics and in response to the anti-American hysteria that is all too prevelant in this country, its certainly not serving our national interests (a verboden idea i know). Although many Canadians may hate it but reality is we need the American more than we need to have good relations with Cuba, Iran, NKorea, and even Europe.

Posted by: anti_liberal | 2005-02-24 4:46:54 PM

Further to the yahoo article, the Americans say they are confused as to Canadian reasons why we have rejected BMD. I think one conclusion some Americans will come to, is that there are those in Canada who don't care about the saftey and security of the US and in fact would like to see the US prone to attack! This is not an unreasonable conclusion. In some American's eyes, the Government's rejection of BMD is not an act of a friend,but an act of a hostile neighbour.

We saw the headlines recently about Bush's visit here and he said,"Some in the US, but not me, wonder why they are paying to defend Canada, It's not worth it anymore." Those same Americans would now view Canada as a potential enemy. Further, they will see the increase in the budget in military spending,(as laughibly small as it is), as spending against the US! This conclusion can be more credibly argued as an arms race than BM..DEFENSE!!!!

That stupid government of ours is digging a bigger hole for us. All it would take, is just one more incident at the border where one more kook trys to bring into the US some kind of bomb and they will shut the border down. It would be a disaster for our economy and our sovereignty and the Americans won't care.God help us all!

Posted by: Headshaker | 2005-02-24 5:37:40 PM

Perhaps the next project for our Heritage Minister should be handing out globes instead of flags. If you grew up looking at the world from a flat map like the Mercator projection, you probably have no idea how many enemy attacks on the U.S. would be by the circumpolar route.

Posted by: TimR | 2005-02-24 6:33:52 PM

Just to throw a bit of a different slant onto this particular topic .....

Is anyone else as thoroughly pissed off as I am about the way this "decision" was made?

According to all reports, Paul Martin has decided that Canada will not participate in BMD. Not the Government. Not the Cabinet. And certainly not Parliament.

Nope. It was PM the PM. The Emperor. Himself. Alone. Without reference to anyone or anything.

Chretien did the same thing regarding Canadian participation in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Just why do we maintain those other 307 drones anyway? The entire government of the country has been compressed into the person of a single individual, and that one not even elected (directly) to the office that wields such unlimited power.

(The US just took some rather drastic steps to change that situation elsewhere in the world. Bit of a shame it ain't gonna happen here .....)

Some years ago I came across a dictionary of political terminology. One definition began "... a system of government centred around a single glorified leader ...". It was the definition of fascism.

And nobody seems to care ......

Posted by: Doug | 2005-02-24 6:50:34 PM

From Freerepublic.com:

"Canada Has Given Up Control of its Airspace: U.S. Ambassador." The Canadian Press.

Post by Quidnunc: "WOW, they gave us the airspace without even firing one missile or pen stroke! CANADIANS ARE EASY."

"... or pen stroke!..."

Even Finland fought for its sovereignty against the Soviets. Canada? Died without a pen stroke.


Posted by: maz2 | 2005-02-24 7:46:38 PM

From Mark Steyn's recent column: "M. Chrétien was still running the numbers in Quebec, and figuring out whether to be a 43 per cent ally or a 26 per cent ally".

Substitute "Martin" or "Harper" for "Chrétien" and the statement still works - except it seems we've now settled on being a one per cent ally. Pathetic!

Why are Harper and the Conservatives being let off the hook here? Their stance on the issue has been deliberately obscure and obtuse presumably to avoid being even less popular in Quebec.

As batty as they are the NDP and the "peace" movement have at least been consistent and, apparently, effective in their opposition to BMD. Not so the Conservatives.

Posted by: JR | 2005-02-24 8:02:34 PM

Good point Doug !

Big national security decisions are not made in Parliament,instead decisions are made

either unilaterally in the PMO
Behind a veil . In the case of Iraq it was proposed that the despotic regimes in the Security Council would decide for us instead of a decision that should have been debated and made by our Parliament.

It’s uncanny how this shirking just slips by and nobody calls the Liberals on it. Therefore no matter how you look at it, Liberals hold fascism in high regard. And they are the hypocrites that call a Coalition of the Willing democracies – unilateral.

Doug you aren’t alone in your concern about this. But are there enough of us to change it? Would Canadians fight an election on it? I don’t know, but I’m convinced over time blogs can help shine a light on it.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2005-02-24 8:08:16 PM

JR - Yep, Steyn's comment about running the Quebec numbers is part of the Libs calculation on missile defense for sure. With the anti's in Quebec polling close to 70% in some polls, Martin would have been hard pushed to dither his way through the inevitable fallout if he had signed up.

Posted by: raskolnikov | 2005-02-24 8:54:46 PM

The colours on the Canadian Flag(Pearson's Rag) have changed, The red stripes are now yellow to reflect the stripe that run down Paul Martin's back. Please meet North America's Jacques Chirac, he'll stab his friends in the back evey chance he gets. Why? It pays in Quebec.

Posted by: Keith Thomson | 2005-02-24 10:14:06 PM

"Why are we letting Harper off the hook?"

Harper's not in government. His job is to oppose, not provide cover for the Liberals on politically difficult decisions which is what would have happened if he offered his support.

Opposing is more than just providing opposite viewpoints and making great speeches that get ignored by the MSM anyway. Politically isolating the Liberals on difficult issues is a smart strategy - this way they are forced to stick their neck out and take politically risky stands on these matters, which they haven't had to do for a long time.

Posted by: yadayada | 2005-02-25 8:37:21 AM

1. Where's the threat?
2. Where's the evidence that BMD actually works?
3. If the Yanks knock done an incoming ICBM over, say, Edmonton, miles from any US population centre, will they actually retaliate? It's dubious.
4. Foreign control of Canadian industrial assets amounts to 30%, compared to 1% in Japan, and 8% in the US, valued at about a trillion dollars and over 60% owned by the Yanks. They have lots of good reasons to defend Canada.
4. Canada has been a client state, a supplicant to the good ol' USA, at least since WWII. In 1940, under PJDB, King gave FDR full control of Canuck troops if the UK was overrrun. Even before the United States entered the war, direction of the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN’s) antisubmarine efforts in the western North Atlantic was assumed by the US navy. Under extreme US pressure to contribute, Canada reluctantly provided an infantry brigade, destroyers, and air transport to the US-directed United Nations effort in Korea. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, without waiting for Cabinet approval, the RCN put to sea to shadow Soviet submarines in the Atlantic, and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) went on alert, ready to counter any attack by Soviet bombers.

The military actions were an indication of the depth of the obsequiousness. These actions were the single greatest breach of proper civil-military relations in Canadian history. An act of treason in other words.
5. Nuclear tipped Bomarcs, another useless anti-missile missile, were forced on Canada by the original neocon, JFK. They were junk and used only to draw potential Soviet fire away from the more precious Yankee targets.

In other words, the United States was/is supreme in the Western Hemisphere, and it will act as powerful nations always act in crisis — in its own interests. Canucks have been taking it up the ass from the Yanks for years and you boys want them to push it in a little bit further because, oooh, it feels so good. Are Quebecers the only ones with balls in this country?

Posted by: DJ | 2005-02-25 10:09:02 AM

Without missile defence, some alliance of nations, through the use of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM's), might try to trigger a "mutual assured destruction" nuclear war between North America and another nation.

Posted by: David Wozney | 2005-02-25 10:18:28 AM

DJ - you are a typical lefty, paranoid anti-American.

1. “Where’s the threat?” A. You’re putting us on!
2. Where’s the evidence [it] will work? A. See Kate’s entry today “Successful Test: BMD "Emergency Deployment"” - this was the fifth success in six tests. The Yanks have a way of making technology work. Anyway if you don’t believe it will work what are you worried about?
3. “If the Yanks knock done [sic] an incoming ICBM over, say, Edmonton, miles from any US population centre, will they actually retaliate?” A. Huh? What’s your point?
4. Canada a “client state... They have lots of reasons to defend Canada. Etc, etc”. A. Cheap, paranoid anti-American mumbo jumbo. Since Canada can’t possibly defend itself alone it must rely on alliances. Given our common interests and values the US is a natural ALLY! Friends and allies support one another militarily and do not look for free rides at every opportunity and certainly do not rebuff allied efforts that are clearly in their mutual defense interests.
5. Nuclear tipped Bomarcs. A. See 4A above.
6. “Are Quebecers the only ones with balls in this country?” A. Are the Americans the only ones on this continent with resolve, common sense and balls?

Posted by: JR | 2005-02-25 12:38:43 PM

BMD is one of the few issues that both the Liberals and Conservatives could have agreed is in the national interest - a nearly perfect bipartisan issue. Martin was in favour. Harper was in favour. Their caucus’s could have been brought round. If they’d agreed to support BMD the Canadian public could have been brought round. In short they could shown leadership (for a change). They’d have both taken equal lumps in Quebec as the price to pay for doing the right thing. Instead they both decided to play BMD as a partisan issue. So a pox on both. The anti-BMD crowd (the NDP, the Bloc and the pacifists) had free reign to oppose it and did so effectively.

Posted by: JR | 2005-02-25 12:41:05 PM


Some counter arguments:

1. China, North Korea, Iran
2. BMD is not perfect, but tests have shown that it is feasible. Development is required and thats the point, you have to go forward to improve the system.
3. I'm not entirely sure what your point is here.
4. I suspect if they had to decide between Americans and American business capital, they would choose Americans. If there was a sensible agreement(IF), then we could at least have a mechanism for selecting which missiles to target, rather than leaving it to the Americans.
4. Again, I don't quite get your point. Canada is the junior partner in NA, we are smaller economically and militarily than the US. Yet we should still act as a partner. A ICBM hitting any part of NA is bad for Canada and the US. In fact, it will be worse for Canada, since a Nuclear explosion in the US will kill Canada economically and a Nuclear missile hitting Canada will result in the death of 1000's of Canadians (Assuming it hits a populated area).
5. Past performance of an previous system is not an indicator of a future system's performance, especially where military technology is concerned. For example, bombs:

In 1944, 650 dumb bombs were required to destroy a stationary target. In Vietnam, this number dropped to 175. During the Persian Gulf War, only around four smart bombs were required to destroy the same target. (http://www.clw.org/milspend/gbu28.html)

Of course the US will act in its own interest, thats the point of being a country. How is not signing onto a BMD agreement in Canada's interest? Thats what I don't understand. The US has offered us a plausible (granted, not rock solid) defense mechanism against ICBM's for a pittance and Canada says, nope not for us, its smacks of Star Wars. Its not rational, its emotional and its no way for a country to act.

Posted by: Gareth Igloliorte | 2005-02-25 1:10:01 PM

JR said "BMD is one of the few issues that both the Liberals and Conservatives could have agreed is in the national interest - a nearly perfect bipartisan issue. Martin was in favour. Harper was in favour."

Sort of like buying transport ships for the military? Martin proposed it. Harper proposed it. Harper got pilloried for wanting to buy aircraft carriers and being a warmonger. Martin didn't.

Given the ridiculously cynical and misinformed political environment we live in, Harper's smart to let Martin do his deer in a headlights routine all on his own and solidify his Capt. Dithers reputation. Fact is, at an operational level, we're effectively participating in the program, so a future Conservative govt could conceivably kiss & make-up with the Yanks ... in fact that's probably what Martin's planning on doing if he wins a majority.

Posted by: yadayada | 2005-02-25 1:34:58 PM

If Harper is letting the Libs stick their neck out on this then now that it has been decided, What is he waiting for to decapitate them?

Posted by: Headshaker | 2005-02-25 2:40:00 PM

>in fact that's probably what Martin's planning on doing if he wins a majority.

It's sweet, really, how poorly this has been managed. Sign on quietly at NORAD to appease the Yanks. Waffle briefly, with mixed statements issuing from various orifices of government, annoying both opponents and proponents. Make a grand statement pretending to take a stand, thoroughly offending the US. Well, at least someone is happy, right?

Not so fast. The last act of this little drama will be when someone digs out the documents covering our actual involvement and domestic BMD opponents find out that we are in fact deeply committed. End of drama - attempts to have cake and eat it too result in cake on floor, none on plate or in mouth.

Posted by: lrC | 2005-02-25 2:59:14 PM

Did PM PM, aka Mr. ?????, seek advice from Margolis & Axworthy etc. on this "policy"? Yesss.

Axworthy burbled about soft power; Margolis dwibbled about get back to you; PM PM sought more from Defence Graham & Foreign Pettigrew and Layton and Blokist and Sam the barber and whats his name in seat 377 behind him and ordered a report/review/consultation review/Colby Cosh's viewpoint/. Then went for a drink at the Rideau Club. After all, it's Friday. Salut.

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-02-25 4:36:54 PM


"...One U.S. official emitted a deep, extended laugh when asked for an assessment of the prime minister and said Canada no longer qualifies as a trusted ally..."

Posted by: x.y | 2005-02-25 7:00:55 PM

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