Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Senators are out, and so is Senate reform

1. The Green Party environmental platform calls for a dreaded carbon tax and higher gasoline prices. Sure, it'll be unpopular, but if people are serious about meeting Kyoto (and the Greens certainly are), you'll only get there with hard line tactics like that.


2. On the international scene, G8 leaders have agreed to consider thinking about perhaps maybe possibly wanting to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050. And people laughed when Harper said he'd be instrumental in bridging a compromise...


3. I'm not sure if this helps or hurts Dion's status as a "leader" or a "hero", but Liberal Senators are shelving Harper's Senate reform bill for now.


4. Bill Casey is gone from the Tory caucus. I seem to remember a few commentators being hard on Dion for booting Comuzzi for breaking party ranks on a budget vote in March...I invite them to weigh in.


5. I've got to hand it to SDA for the "IOC rapes gay nazis" description of the new London 2012 Olympic logo.

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37 Comments:

  • 1.) How long will it take liberals to realize that people just like to say they are concerned about the environment, but not actually do anything about it if it will cost them money. The conservatives have figured this out and have tailored their plan to meet what the public really wants. Wake me up when the green party wins a seat.

    2.) Job well done Harper! Nothing binding so we don't have to do anything, its perfect, I don't have to waste any money on environ"metnal" propaganda and David Suzuki's lies.

    3.)Just more proof of the arrogance and shameful behavior of the Liberal Senate. They are just a bunch of partisan hacks stalling much needed reforms.

    4.) Just admit it, Dion is not a leader. He looks like turtle. Harper is a leader. That's the way it is!

    5.) The 2012 logo is disgusting.

    By Blogger Andrew Smith, at 12:59 PM  

  • 1) The Liberals realize it just fine, and are little better than the Reformatories on the environment. Vote NDP if you want a real plan.

    By Blogger leonsp, at 1:27 PM  

  • The PM has no jurisdiction of senate reform without the support of the provinces. Currently there are 5 provinces who don't agree with Harpers attempt at treason.

    Trying to lame the blame on Stephane is disingenuous. He actually stood up for the law of the land on this one. Harpers the one who tried to pull a fast one for his own partisan gain. One time partisan gain and he is willing to change the entire underpinings of our democracy to serve his agenda.

    You are all traitors if you support this reform sham. All it will do is create another house of commons doing the same as the original one but at twice the price.! Some conservatives.

    I think we can finally put to rest that the Cpc are fiscally conservative. They are only so-con reformers with no respect for Canadian institutions.


    Your opinion ain't worth shit Andrew. Anyone who disparages homeless people because of his "ruined shopping experience" shouldn't even be considered human with any opinion.


    Vote NDP? Ha ha ha.

    We do have an economy you know leonsp.

    By Blogger Jay, at 2:04 PM  

  • It's only a poll Andrew, but it does seem to refute your assertion - in fact Canadians do seem tobe willing to sacrifice for the environment:

    Date: January 26, 2007
    An increasing number of Canadians are willing to make sacrifices for the environment, according to a poll conducted for CTV News and The Globe and Mail.

    About 93 per cent of those surveyed said they were willing to make some kind of sacrifice to solve global warming, according to findings from the poll conducted by the The Strategic Counsel.

    According to the results:

    76 per cent are willing to pay to have their houses retro-fitted to become more energy efficient
    73 per cent would reduce the amount they fly to times when it is only absolutely necessary
    72 per cent would pay more for a fuel-efficient car
    62 per cent are willing to have the economy grow at a significantly slower rate
    61 per cent would reduce the amount they drive in half.

    By Blogger Ian, at 2:15 PM  

  • Yep. That's gonna play well.

    Unelected, Liberal dominated senate decides . . . hey, we like our jobs, you schmoes out there got no right to tell us we have to be accountable to the likes of you, and what's this? Limit the years we can snooze? Bastards.

    Yep. Right up there with voting in 25% pay raises.

    Seems a little timely for the Senate ads for the last couple of weeks, eh?

    I truly love the "Send it to the SCOC to see what they have to say". What, the Senilators don't even know how the system is supposed to work?

    Pass the House, pass the Senate, get signed, Provinces have problems . . . then they take it to the SCOC.

    No, there won't be _any_ problems for the Senate on this, heh.

    Cheers,
    lance

    By Blogger lance, at 2:45 PM  

  • Ian, I have also seen polls that when you ask specifics, such as would you be willing to pay $X do you still support it, or if you asked would you be willing to lose your job to possibly reduce the world's temperature y 0.2 degrees by 2050 (as Kyoto would do) most people would say no. A lot of people tells pollsters "yes" becuase they think its what people want to hear.

    Jay - how arrogant of you! Calling people who disagree with you traitors. Its amazing how intolerant Liberals are whenever somebody disagrees with them.

    By Blogger Andrew Smith, at 3:17 PM  

  • I don't mind the thought of raising gas taxes for the environment... at the same time... couldn't they gradually raise it vs. an immediate 12 cent jump?

    By Blogger MERBOY, at 4:46 PM  

  • andrew and lance

    I highly doubt Harper ever expected the senate bill to pass. He likely wanted it to fail so he could argue that a liberal senate blocked a conservative bill "reforming" the senate. This bill, of course, does nothing of the sort.

    The prudent and responsible thing for Harper to have done is refer the bill to the SCC. The reason such a reference is permissible lance is to avoid the very thing you advocate, which would take a great deal of time and money to achieve the same result. The problem with your suggestion is that if, after several years, the SCC rules the bill was unconstitutional, it jeopardizes the legitimacy of each and every bill the Senate passed during that time frame. Surely you can see that an SCC reference is more logical, and far more fiscally responsible (or don't you mind the needless expense of millions of tax dollars to the various lawyers who will argue this thing through the various levels of courts).

    But then Harper is not interested in doing something that is effective. His sole intent here is to highlight what he perceives to be a liberal weakness. Yet again he has shown he is not interested in leading this country through effective policy.

    If he really wants to reform the senate then he should do so properly - through a constitutional amendment.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 4:48 PM  

  • Andrew,

    Can I see these polls too?

    Even if you don't have any specific links to provide to show me them, I don't doubt that what you say is true. When asked to make a specific sacrifice, vs general support for an idea - many more will say no to something. It's called human nature.

    If I poll you about your support for the war in Afganistan, you might well say you fully support the mission, but if I ask you to grab a gun and come join in the fighting, you will likely have a less enthusastic response.

    It is very clear that in general Canadians are supportive of helping pay for the financial & lifestyle costs that wll be required to achieve significant reductions in carbon emmissions. That means with some political will and some well conceived policies, those same Canadians will support initiatives along these lines.

    Too bad the CPC is providing neither.

    By Blogger Ian, at 5:04 PM  

  • Canadian pundocrats are idiots that don't understand how a parliamentary democracy works. Voters voted for a party, in a system that requires party discipline. Joe Comuzzi and Bill Casey are rightly consigned to the bowels of independency.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 5:50 PM  

  • Bill Casey good! Peter McKay bad!

    Up with Elizabeth May!!!

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:50 PM  

  • Also, the thing about senate reform is that nobody actually cares about it - support is a mile wide and an inch deep (and guess who hardcore supporters of reform are already voting for).

    If it is illegal, the supreme court will shoot it down. The senate should debate it, and pass, or not pass, the bill on its merits - just as they do with pretty much every bill.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 5:56 PM  

  • Hose said

    “Joe Comuzzi and Bill Casey are rightly consigned to the bowels of independency.”

    Of course, that isn’t the point at all.

    Bill Casey rebelled against a budget that broke a written promise to his province. Joe voted for a conservative budget that conferred a benefit for his riding.

    The former is a matter of principle and morality. The latter could be construed as a bribe.

    In the next election, it is the likes of peter mckay who will have to answer on accountability.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 6:00 PM  

  • The notion that the Atlantic Accords are a legal contract that consigns all future Canadian governments to not consider oil in equalization payment calculations (which in itself is the height of stupidity - if you exclude oil, Alberta is probably a poor province) is about as made up as the fiscal imbalance.

    Just as the Tories have thrown in with a dubious lot in accepting the latter, Danny Williams is not exactly who cares all that much whether his premise has any actual merit, as long as he gets to bash the mainlanders.

    Again, if it was a legally binding contract, you think somebody would have thought to have alerted the authorities. Governments have the prerogative, and rightly so, to reverse the decisions of previous governments (they have a choice, sir). This is rather a good thing as it constrains the ability of desperate governments to engage in shameless vote-buying tactics.

    Furthermore, jimtan, your high and mighty morals miss the merits of party discipline. In a system of backbenchers as trained seals voters get accountability - they know who to blame for everything, and they get coherent policies. When you give individual MP's too much power, you get the kind of log-rolling that permeates the United States house of reps.

    Parties are trying to win the country, not just a few parts of it, and construct policies accordingly. Bill Casey's need to bring pogey home to his constituents, is played off against the Ontario caucus of the CPC - electoral interests mirror national interests (incidentally this is also one of my arguments against the fracturing of parties that takes place in PR voting).

    So-called matters of principle are irrelevant. After all "whose principles?" Why is it ignoble to get a cancer research facility, but noble to get pogey for eastern Canadians, jimtan?

    I do agree that Peter Mackay was off his rocker in saying that those voting against the budget should not be expelled from the party. He is easily the most disappointing member of the Conservative cabinet - and he isn't even a gun-toting maniac like some of the others.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 6:51 PM  

  • I'm quite pleased that the SC will in all likelihood be ruling on the constitutionality of Harper's unilateral reforms. There is nothing more dangerous to democracy and the rule of law when a government exceeds its legal authority.

    PS. I'm writing this from the PIMS office in the Math & Stats Dept. at the UofA, and as such I've walked by CG's office (I think). I like the comics, in any case.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 7:15 PM  

  • Hi there Dan,

    I was certainly one who booed Dion booting Comuzzi, and I'm equally disgusted with this scenario (Bill Casey).

    As I've said before many many times: MPs are in the House to represent *us*, not their party's interests. From what I understand of this particular issue, I disagree with Casey -- but, I defend his right, absolutely, to do what he feels best for his riding and his constituents.

    WE elect MPs, not party leaders, not party whips, not party presidents. Sadly, too few of those leaders et al seem to agree.

    The Comuzzi decision was wrong, and so is this one. Why bother having MPs at all? Why don't we just give each leader the number of votes as they have ridings, and trim the House budget to 4 (or 5 or 6, as appropriate after elections) and just let the leaders throw their votes around as they see fit? They apparently do already.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 7:16 PM  

  • Harpers attempt at treason.

    Agreed, let's just chop the motherfucker's head off right now -- I nominate Elizabeth II to swing the axe!!!

    BRAWL!!!!!!!!!

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 7:21 PM  

  • Dion -looks like turtle.

    I think Dion's quite good looking, really. And looks are unimportant to me when it comes to picking leaders.

    But on a related note, Steve Carell's photo in all the Evan Almighty ads makes me think he could play Stephen Harper quite easily.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 7:23 PM  

  • re: SENATE

    This is typical Liberal arrogance, at least the perception is that way. Why would the Liberal Senators, who would be grandfathered, object to future appointments be term limited?

    re: BILL CASEY

    What the hell ever happened to "free votes" that were a keystone of the party? Oh sure, the "brass" will determine what issues a free vote can be held on, but this hurts my party badly (yes, I am a conservative).

    Casey voted as his conscious determined; he voted in a way he believed was in the best interest of his constituents, and this is just soooooooo Chretien!

    I don't agree with Casey's perspective, but he has the right, and I believe the obligation to actually represent his constituents.

    Shame on the Conservative party to falling in to the Ottawa trap. Shame on them backtracking what many of us thought was a cornerstone of the Conservative party.

    By Blogger Andy, at 9:43 PM  

  • Hose said

    “So-called matters of principle are irrelevant. After all "whose principles?" Why is it ignoble to get a cancer research facility, but noble to get pogey for eastern Canadians, jimtan?”

    It’s strange when a Liberal supporter is more concerned about principles than a conservative supporter.

    Anyway, you’re not thinking it through. No principles or loyalty to your party? Then, the other side will surely offer a bribe to swing your vote.

    What if the bribes defeat a government? Was that what the voters in your riding wanted when they elected you?

    That’s why discipline has to be maintained in a confidence vote, unless a matter of principle is involved.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 9:47 PM  

  • "This is typical Liberal arrogance, at least the perception is that way. Why would the Liberal Senators, who would be grandfathered, object to future appointments be term limited?"

    Maybe because they are not making their decisions based on selfish reasons. As you point out, clearly if their only consideration was their own needs they would simply pass the thing rather than actually spend their time and energy trying to determine if it is actually a good bill.

    Five provinces have raised a concern that the legislation is unconstitutional. Despite what you (and Harper) may believe, the Senate does not exist merely to rubber stamp legislation passed by Parliament. It would be highly irresponsible for them to simply pass this legislation given the concerns raised by the provinces. That may the way Harper does things, but clearly it is not the way the senate wants to do things.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 10:53 PM  

  • Danny Williams is not exactly who cares all that much whether his premise has any actual merit, as long as he gets to bash the mainlanders.

    Oh, that some of his own electors would see through this as transparently as you do...

    By Blogger WJM, at 11:42 PM  

  • Why would the Liberal Senators, who would be grandfathered, object to future appointments be term limited?

    Are they term-limits?

    Or terms?

    Could a Senator run again?

    If the official Tory talking points are about term limits, if true, it's a bad policy; if false, it's a lie.

    By Blogger WJM, at 11:44 PM  

  • Wjm said

    “Could a Senator run again?”

    Hmmm! Here’s what little I know about the bills.

    The government has two separate bills going through the Senate and Commons. Bill S-4 (Senate) would impose a term limit of 8 years on appointed senators. But, at the same time Bill C-43 (Commons) seeks to elect senators.

    This is senseless. You won’t need Bill S-4 (term limits) if senators are elected. On the other hand, you shouldn’t try to impose term limits while pushing Bill C-43.

    As expected, this craziness has raised the shackles of the provinces. Several provinces (Ontario and Quebec included) have stated that these proposals are constitutional changes and need the approval of the majority of the provinces. And, the senators are running for cover by referring the matter to the Supreme Court.

    The incoherence is symptomatic of harper’s piecemeal approach, and the lack of consultation and consensus building. It calls into question the ability of harper to be Prime Minister and leader of the nation.

    The term limit bill is not dead. The government can get it back in play merely by referring to the Supreme Court. However, van loan refuses to refer the issues to the courts. A truly astonishing attitude for a minority government with just 36% of the popular vote!

    Democracy anyone?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:56 AM  

  • Why can't senators be elected, and have fixed terms? The reason for having an upper house, presumably, is not that it is run the same way as the lower house. Electing senators would mean a shift from the senate as "sober second thought" (that is, the senate as a status quo-defending body), to the senate as a body for regional representation (since they would be elected by respective provinces - it is not easy to see why the Conservatives, who tend to be the party of the periphery against the core, and the party of losing elections would prefer this).

    Such a reform is not mutually exclusive with the effects of term limits - in fact it would reinforce that tendency. Unlimited terms amplify the "sober second thought" aspect of the senate, because it produces a body with a great deal of experience, that tends to shore up the status quo.

    Harper's aim is not as simple as "senate reform is good" - after all he is choosing between different avenues in senate reform. An elected senate, with term limits, shift the senate from an agency of national interests (which are well served by the house of commons, with strong party discipline) to one of provincial interests.

    Why is senate reform a good idea? Because maybe, just maybe, it isn't the role of Danny Williams to play bash Ottawa - perhaps by constructing a relevant upper house, provincial interests can be represented, and appropriate haggling can take place. Harper likes this, of course, because he likes provincial power, and because slowing down government is great for conservatism. In many ways it may solve some of the acrimony that is uniquely Canadian (actually Brazil has some similar features) - when was the last time George W. Bush cared about what the governor of Maine had to say about his energy policy?

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 4:08 AM  

  • josh; Yeah, that'd be my office...although I'm down in Calgary right now. What brings you to Edmonton.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:51 AM  

  • The PIMS-sponsored GIMMC and IPSW. You have a nice campus here!

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 1:44 PM  

  • Hi Dan,

    I think we're using the wrong language to describe Casey and Comuzzi. To say that they were 'booted from caucus' suggests that the caucus had some choice.

    Consider the Garth Turner example. He was booted from caucus by a vote of the caucus. It wasn't that he didn't support his leader on an issue of confidence; they just didn't like him.

    Now that degree of choice didn't exist for Dion and Harper in the aforementioned cases. There is no point in having an MP as a member of your caucus if he/ she won't support you with his/ her vote.

    Both MP's in question chose to leave caucus. To say that it represents a decision by the leadership - other than the decisions to destroy the Atlantic Accord and vote against the budget - is misleading.

    The only people responsible for Bill and Joe are Bill and Joe.

    By Blogger James Bowie, at 4:41 PM  

  • A couple of points:

    1) The Canadian version of Parliamentary Democracy suffers from the greatest degree of "party discipline" of any country that can truly call itself a democracy. Part of this is tradition, part of it is contemporary political expediency. Just consider the British or Indian Parliament, where dissent within the ranks is actually acceptable and leaders actually have to work hard (including modifying legislation!) to ensure the support of their party's various factions. Let's not get too caught up with thinking that ALL parliamentary democracies operate the way Canada's does...or doesn't.

    2) It may be appropriate to reform the Senate, or even abolish it, but electing Senators is not the answer. Do we really want MORE elections determined by who has the best contacts in industry and financial services? The advantage of NOT electing Senators is that they can (admittedly, rarely...but it happens) operate outside of the party system without having to kowtow to party leadership (and I'm not talking about the elected leader, I'm talking about the apparatchiks in the back rooms). Once they're in, they're in; and although people can point to Senators that do little, there are also Senators that do a lot; don't generalize the particular!

    Personally, I think it is inappropriate for Parliament OR the Senate to have anything to do with Constitutional Reforms. It would be far better if we elected, say 30 members from each constituency to serve as a sitting Constitutional Congress that could work on various aspects of the Constitution (or even start from scratch!) and then present it to Parliament and the Provinces for them to vote on. This way, you don't have the people who will be limited by the constitution determining what their own limits would or should be.

    And to those that will object to the "cost" of such an exercise, I would say that anyone elected to such a Congress would be seconded from their normal occupations and would be paid by their employers (who would receive a tax benefit). After all, these people would actually be providing a public service.

    Sorry about the long post; I'll shut up now!

    By Blogger Party of One, at 6:26 PM  

  • There is no point in having an MP as a member of your caucus if he/ she won't support you with his/ her vote.

    Oh, give it up with this simpleton bullshit.

    I guess there's no point in us electing MPs to represent us, then. Just give Harper 123 apples, Dion 103, Layton 29, and Duceppe 51, and let them hash it out with whomever can arrange the numbers best.

    Brilliant thinking, James.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 8:45 PM  

  • ...I invite them [commentators on Cormuzzi] to weigh in.

    I dunno, I think I come across pretty good :)

    By Blogger Jason Hickman, at 8:55 PM  

  • Oh, give it up with this simpleton bullshit.

    I guess there's no point in us electing MPs to represent us, then. Just give Harper 123 apples, Dion 103, Layton 29, and Duceppe 51, and let them hash it out with whomever can arrange the numbers best.


    Huh? This makes no sense whatsoever. If MPs refuse to toe the party line to the extent of voting against a confidence measure like the budget, why should they remain members of said party? Party leaderships will attempt to ensure the loyalty of MPs by various means, but the ultimate trump they hold is being able to deny disobedient MPs access to the party appartus.

    However, if MPs frequently exercise independence, regardless of what their leader directs them to do, then this trump card will fail. As it did in Casey's case. But he is still an MP, and now Harper has one less guaranteed vote of support for his minority government.

    It seems fairly obvious (perhaps only to "simpletons") that in exchange for being a member of the governing party, an MP ought to vote to support the government in cases where the government could fall if the vote fails - like the budget. Why is this so hard to understand? We could, of course, have a Parliament made up of more independents - I certainly wouldn't oppose this - but if MPs are to exercise independence, why does it matter if they cannot do so within the confines of a party organization?

    Brilliant thinking, James.

    Right. To take your analogy, we could very well give Harper and the others piles of apples, but said apples would lack the ability of MPs to rebel against their leader. Much as Casey did, as did several Alliance MPs, which eventually forced Day from the leadership.

    To be truly undemocratic, MPs would have to be forced to remain in a party and vote with the leader on everything. Of course, since the leader does not exercise absolute control over his members' votes, the system is far from that extreme.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 9:10 PM  

  • "According to the results:

    76 per cent are willing to pay to have their houses retro-fitted to become more energy efficient
    73 per cent would reduce the amount they fly to times when it is only absolutely necessary
    72 per cent would pay more for a fuel-efficient car
    62 per cent are willing to have the economy grow at a significantly slower rate
    61 per cent would reduce the amount they drive in half. "

    I can see a flaw in the poll already. SUV sales in Canada were up in excess of 20% in April, due mainly to better incentives than fuel-efficient vehicles. And Honda just announced it is scapping it's hybrid model due to poor sales.

    By Blogger paulsstuff, at 12:06 AM  

  • paulstuff: What a hack. Your selective fact spinning is so easily hoist on its own petard, it is laughable. Here is what the real news is about car sales so far this year in Canada

    From the Financial Post

    "...several Asian-based carmakers reported spectacular gains in Canada. Nissan's sales rose 62% over the same period last year. Mitsubishi gained 55.5% and Honda deliveries climbed 20.5%."

    "Toyota said yesterday sales of its top fuel-efficient vehicles, including the Yaris sedan, Prius and Matrix, were up 19.2% over April, 2007. Those three cars all achieved record sales."

    The full article is here.

    http://tinyurl.com/yv7hxq

    And as to Honda scrapping "one" of it's hybrid models. The story from the Globe and Mail said this:

    "So what went wrong with the Accord, when other hybrids are doing so well?

    "Obviously hybrids do resonate with the consuming public, but it depends how they are packaged," said Bob Oliver, director of transportation at Pollution Probe in Toronto. The problem with the Accord, he said, is that the hybrid technology - which combines an electric motor with an internal combustion engine - was used mainly to boost the car's power, rather than to sharply increase fuel efficiency.

    "It was the fastest, most powerful vehicle in the Honda fleet," Mr. Oliver said.

    By comparison, the new hybrid Toyota Camry - roughly the same size as the Accord - gets much better gas mileage but is less powerful, and it is selling extremely well. "

    Full article is here:

    http://tinyurl.com/2s43dx

    Now go back to your hole and turn your lights off - your carbon footprint isn't worth the calories.

    By Blogger Ian, at 2:49 AM  

  • Re: 3. I'm not sure if this helps or hurts Dion's status as a "leader" or a "hero", ...

    Check out Dion falls into trap over Senate

    It is no coincidence that the latest Conservative attack ads highlighted Liberal obstruction of Senate reform even before it became a reality. The subject matter seemed strange to many in the commentariat, who argued that Senate reform is hardly a pressing issue for most voters. However, Conservative focus groups suggest that when voters are asked what bothers them about Ottawa, the Senate quickly emerges as a symbol of elitism, patronage and entitlement. As former Harper strategist Tom Flanagan wrote recently: "It will be an issue -- perhaps a major issue -- at the next election."

    By Blogger Calgary Junkie, at 1:30 PM  

  • There was a good column by (gasp!) Sheila Copps in paper today. She pointed out that if Casey genuinely believed that the budget was an unacceptable broken promise, he would have said something like "I cannot in good conscience remain in such an awful party" and resigned from the CPC on his own, instead of having to be thrown out.

    To sum up, notwithstanding pathetic attempts at partisan spin in this thread, Dion and Harper were equally justified in kicking out Comuzzi and Casey.

    (Although I'm still curious why Comuzzi was kicked out before he cast the offending vote, but that's a very minor point.)

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 3:34 AM  

  • invisible said

    "To sum up, notwithstanding pathetic attempts at partisan spin in this thread, Dion and Harper were equally justified in kicking out Comuzzi and Casey."

    There is a difference of opinion about whether it could be different.

    Ohhh! Thanks for your nonpartisan contributions.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:34 PM  

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