Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Harper’

Frank Valeriote In Debate

It was our great pleasure to welcome Frank Valeriote, MP for Guelph, back to Royal City Rag on February 27.

During a wide ranging conversation in the first hour, we talked about the resumation of parliamentary activities in Ottawa on March 3 after Stephen Harper’s self-serving prorogation, the upcoming budget (to be tabled by the government on March 4) and Frank’s own committee work in the agriculture and food sectors.

Its also appropriate to mention that their will be another awareness event in Guelph on March 2 with respect to the inappropriate use of prorogation to stifle parliamentary debate. 

The Guelph chapters of the Council of Canadians and Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament and Guelph Participates are encouraging people to come out to Carden Street, in front of City Hall for the “Searchlight on Democracy Walk and Talk” at 7.00 p.m. for some short speeches, followed by a short candlelight procession to Norfolk St United Church for a discussion on how we can hold the government accountable for their actions and avoid such abuses in the future.

There was an excellent panel discussion on this issue on January 2. You can check out the audio from that event including Frank Valeriote’s speech here.

Searchlight on Democracy Walk and Talk
When: Tuesday, March 2 at 7.00 p.m.
Where: City Hall – Guelph (1 Carden St.) and then to Norfolk Street United Church for presentations and a group discussion

We also had a chance to discuss the burgeoning contorversy concerning Canada’s financial aid for earthquake stricken Haiti. It seems that the aid the government is providing may be coming out of funds already earmarked for Haiti prior to the earthquake and not new funding at all. This situation needs to be watched very closely.

The Canada Haiti Action Network are screening the documentary Aristide and the Endless Revolution at the Bookshelf Cinema on Saturday March 6 at 1.00 p.m. This is a free event. A discussion about the current situation in Haiti, including financial aid from the Government of Canada, will occur after the screening.

Aristide and The Endless Revolution
When: Saturday March 6 @ 1 p.m.
Where: The Bookshelf Cinema, Quebec St, Downtown Guelph
Admission: Free (donations gratefully accepted).

Frank Valeriote can be contacted via his Gueph office, 40 Cork Street East, Guelph, N1H 2W8, 519-837-8276, 519-837-8443  or by e-mail to Valeriote.F@parl.gc.ca. While in Ottawa he may also be reached at Room 713 Confederation Building, House of Commons, Ottawa, K1A 0A6, 613-996-4758, 613-996-9922 (fax).

Listen to Hour 1:

You can also follow the links here to check out Frank’s previous visits to Royal City Rag in April and June 2009. He’s a great interview.

We started the second hour of the show with a personal commentary regarding the upcoming municipal election scheduled for October 25Mayor Farbridge announced her bid for re-election this week. Other candidates for mayor and council are sure to follow in short order.

Royal City Rag will continue to follow the municipal scene closely, focusing on the community issues that we believe are important as we move towards the election. Expect to hear more commentaries on the record of the current council and our hopes for the next.

Listen to the Commentary:


Later in the second hour we talked to Alli Russell from Po’Girl. Po’Girl are in Guelph on March 9 for a show at Dublin St United Church as part of their “No Shame” tour, highlighting the serious problem of child sexual abuse.

Russell is the survivor of ten years of sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather.  She wrote the song “No Shame” in 2006 after her stepfather was released from prison . You can find it on their critically acclaimed album, Deer in the Night.

Proceeds from the tour will support Little Warriors in Canada and the National Children’s Alliance in the USA. Alli Russell will also be running the Athens, Ohio marathon, on April 11 to support these groups.

Hailing originally from Canada, Po’Girl weave a blend of musical influences, sweetness, grit & soul into a fresh and original sound. Their latest release, 2009’s Deer in the Night still includes many of the trappings of the trademark Po’ Girl sound – the echoes of speakeasy jazz, the western lament, the accordion-strapped ghosts of European folk – but it’s all delivered with a soulful clarity and depth only hinted at on previous records.

Po’Girl And The No Shame Tour To Combat Child Abuse
featuring Po’Girl (with special guest JT Nero) and Noise and the Ghost
When: March 9 at 7.30 p.m.
Where: Dublin St United Church, 68 Suffolk St W, Guelph
Tickets: $16/$20

Listen to Hour 2:

Johnny Cash, Redemption Day from American Recordings VI, Ain’t No Grave
Roseanne Cash, I’m Moving On from The List
Tony Bennett, Rags To Riches from Mob Life
Michael Buble, A Song For You from It’s time
Janis Ian, The Great Divide from Folk Is The New Black
Po’Girl, Bloom from Deer In The Night
Po’Girl, No Shame from Deer In The Night

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The Canadian Parliament finally gets back to work on March 3 after their enforced vacation, that began on December 30, 2009, courtesy of Prime minister Stephen Harper’s prorogation.

To celebrate this auspicious occasion, the Guelph chapters of the Council of Canadians and Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament and Guelph Participates are holding “Searchlight on Democracy Walk and Talk” on March 2.

People are asked to gather at 7.00 p.m. in front of Guelph City Hall (1 Carden St) and are encouraged to bring flash lights or candles to the event.

Several speakers will address the group. Following that, the group will walk to Norfolk United church for presentations and discussions on how to hold government accountable for their actions and to consider changes in parliamentary procedure to avoid such abuses in the future.

People interested in attending the event can find more details at www.guelphparticipates.com.

Searchlight on Democracy Walk and Talk
When: Tuesday, March 2 at 7.00 p.m.
Where: City Hall – Guelph (1 Carden St.) and then to Norfolk Street United Church for presentations and a group discussion

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It seems that Stephen Harper can’t get a break… 

Reeling from heavy criticism over his decision to prorogue parliament to avoid difficult questions regarding Afghan detainees, he is now backpeddling and asking MPs to work through two scheduled breaks when they get back.

Does this guy really have a clue?

Mr. Harper’s decision to turn a customary recess into a prorogation meant that work in committee stopped and all the bills progressing through both houses were lost, no matter how close they were to approval.

Needless to say, his cynical ploy did not go unnoticed. 132 political scientists signed a letter condemning the proprogation and calling for electoral reform.

Even analysts and newspapers normally supportive of his Conservative government’s agenda called this a dangerous tactic, and one that puts our democracy at risk.

And now, he wants MPS to work through their breaks to correct his mistake?

Stephen Harper With Charles I, Birds Of A Feather?

I was talking to my mother in England about the prorogation issue this past week. Despite being in her eighties, she’s as feisty as ever as far as politics are concerned.

She couldn’t ever remember prorogation becoming an issue in the UK and was quite shocked to hear that Stephen Harper would shut down parliament before a session was due to end, while there was still legislation passing through committees and issues being debated in the house.

She reminded me that the English King Charles I also shut down parliament because he didn’t like some of the decisions they were making. Of course his need for control eventually lead to him having his head chopped off.

I wouldn’t wish that on Stephen, of course… but I strongly suspect that this issue will come back to bite him severely in the nether regions at the next election!

Stephen Harper’s desire to control the parliamentary agenda is reaching absurd levels.

One wonders what will be next… Stephen Harper, the first King of Canada?

Stephen Harper, the first King of Comedy more like. A man, like comedian Rupert Pupkin, whose ambition far exceeds his talent.

Canada deserves better.

Don’t forget that Ned Franks, Professor Emeritus at Queen’s University,will be in town next week for a lecture on “The State of Parliamentary Democracy in Canada”. The lecture takes place at the University of Guelph’s War Memorial Hall on Monday February 8 at 7.30 p.m.

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The need for reform of parliamentary procedures is still very much in the news.

Don’t forget that Ned Franks, Professor Emeritus at Queen’s University,will be in town next week for a lecture on “The State of Parliamentary Democracy in Canada”. The lecture takes place at the University of Guelph’s War Memorial Hall on Monday February 8 at 7.30 p.m.

Dr. Franks has been frequently quoted in recent editorials on the prorogation issue.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Council of Canadians – Guelph Chapter, the Department of Political Science at the University of Guelph and the Central Students Association.

Also check out this clip of Ned Franks discussing Canada’s current minority government with Steve Paikin (from TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, September 25, 2009):

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It seems that Stephen Harper’s decision to prorogue parliament is resonating right across the age spectrum, never mind the political spectrum. This may well be a political game changer.

The Canadian organisation for seniors, CARP has conducted an online poll through their ActionOnline semi-monthly e-newsletter which is sent to 85,000 opt-in subscribers. The e-poll normally receives 3,000 to 5,000 responses. Nearly all the respondents are 55+ and more than half live in the political battleground province of Ontario.

CARP ActionOnline readers overwhelmingly disapproved of the current proroguing of Parliament, which they think occurred because the government wanted to avoid an Afghan detainee enquiry and they will vote for a Liberal government if an election were held tomorrow.

Over 5,600 subscribers reacted almost instantly to the poll which was issued late Friday, January 15, 2010.

When asked what they thought of the Prime Minister proroguing Parliament, fully three quarters disapprove (73%), and the wide majority “strongly disapprove” (57%).

When asked what they thought was the real reason Parliament was prorogued, the majority say it was to avoid the Afghan detainee enquiry, at least wholly or in part (62%), rather than solely due to the government’s stated reason of recalibrating their agenda (20%)

It is clear CARP members do not oppose prorogation per se, as fully one half (54%) approve of routinely proroguing a Parliament when its agenda is completed. Yet, a full three quarters (76%) believe the current prorogation was unjustified.

Despite some government spokesmen trying to blame the media for whipping up opposition to prorogation, more than half (58%) of the respondents  believe the current uproar over prorogation reflects true public opinion rather than being a creation of the media (30%).

And regardless what people might think about the effectiveness of our parliamentarians, almost three quarters believe it is more important for Parliament to stay in session and pass bills (74%) than to be prorogued so the government can reset its agenda (16%).

“CARP members are well read and very politically engaged. They support our parliamentary institutions as a proper check and balance against executive power. Governments, even those they historically support, will pay the price at the polls if they get too high handed. Our surveys and electoral polling have demonstrated time and again that this is a bellwether group. And at the moment, they’d be prepared to vote the government out of office over prorogation”, said Susan Eng, VP Advocacy for CARP.

Members were asked how proroguing Parliament has affected their likelihood of voting for the government in the next election. To put this in context, many previous polls have demonstrated CARP ActionOnline readers have a distinct small “c” and large “C” conservative bias. Despite this, the majority of respondents say they are now less likely to vote for the government (59%).

As recently as late September of last year, fully two thirds of the respondents to CARP ActionOnline polls supported the Conservative party (62%), compared to just one quarter who supported the Liberals (26%). While the Afghan detainee enquiry had the effect of depressing government support somewhat in mid-December of last year (to 54%), Liberal support did not rise (27%).

Once the government prorogued Parliament just before New Years, however, Conservative support among our members plummeted (to 38%), and the Liberals now have a comfortable lead (at 41%). The NDP and the Green party have also been beneficiaries of the decline in Conservative support since before prorogation.

View the full poll report.

View the survey results.

CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada, social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. CARP seeks to ensure that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and provides value-added benefits, products and services to our members. Through our network of chapters across Canada, CARP is dedicated to building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARP’s mission.

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Saturday’s Perogies not Proroguing rally in Guelph on Saturday January 23 was a huge success.

More than 350 Guelphites attended the event organised by the Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians, the Guelph Chapter of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament and the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Far more than the 200 people the organisers had expected to turn up.

The rally was not only an opportunity to register opposition to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to shut down parliament but also allowed those present  to educate themselves on the fragile state of our democracy.

Stephen Harper’s cynical decision to stifle debate is far more than just a storm in a teacup on the internet. There are a great many Canadians who are deeply troubled about an excessive concentration of arbitrarily-exercised power in the office of Prime Minister. 

Even analysts who normally support the actions of Canada’s right wing government believe that Stephen Harper has seriously miscalculated the mood of the nation. Quite clearly, Canadians really do care about this issue.

As Tom Flanagan, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said on January 12 in a panel interview on CBC Television’s ‘Power & Politics’ with Evan Solomon, “Everybody knows that Parliament was prorogued in order to shut down the Afghan inquiry, and the trouble is that the government doesn’t want to explain why that was necessary,” adding “instead of having an adult defence of it, the government comes up with these childish talking points. So then you try and backfill with other stuff that doesn’t make much sense either. So it’s a self-created problem.”

Left to Right: Jim Profit, Phil Allt and Byron Sheldrick

Many of those present attended the, standing room only, panel discussion at Knox Church featuring Guelph MP Frank Valeriote, Accessibility Advocate/Writer Susan Wheeler, University of Guelph Political Science Professor Byron Sheldrick, History professor/former NDP candidate Phil Allt and Father Jim Profit from the Ignatius Jesuit Centre. The panel discussion was moderated by Rev. John Lawson.

Susan Wheeler with Frank Valeriote MP

Frank Valeriote gave an excellent speech on parliamentary democracy while the panelists provided a lot of food for thought. There was also an excellent question and answer session.

It really was a wonderful session and a great primer on the problems currently afflicting our parliamentary democracy. Definitely worth a listen if you missed it.

Listen to Frank Valeriote’s Speech:

Listen to the Panelists Comments:

Listen to the Question & Answer Session:

The urgent need for parliamentary procedure reform will be discussed in a lecture on February 8 featuring Dr. Ned Franks, Professor Emeritus at Queen’s University. Professor Franks, who has been frequently quoted in recent editorials on the prorogation issue, will present a lecture on “The State of Parliamentary Democracy in Canada”.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Council of Canadians – Guelph Chapter, the Department of Political Science at the University of Guelph and the Central Students Association. The lecture will be held at the University of Guelph’s War Memorial Hall at 7.30 p.m.

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It seems that the Perogies not Proroguing event planned for January 23 is creating quite a stir in Guelph. Stephen Harper’s decision to close down parliament is clearly more than just a storm in a teacup on Facebook.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees have now joined the Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians and the Guelph Chapter of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament in setting up a rally downtown in Guelph.

The rally will now start in St George’s Square at 1.00 p.m. before moving to Knox Church where perogies and hot drinks will be served. There will then be an opportunity to share concerns about the prorogation during a panel discussion moderated by Rev. John Lawson.

The rally will be a clear demonstration of concern over the Prime Minister’s recent prorogation of Parliament, the deepening crisis in Parliamentary democracy, and the broader implications of this crisis.  Over 200 citizens are now expected to attend.

Almost 50 cities across the country are having rallies, forums and protests, including St. John’s, Halifax, Fredericton, Charlottetown, Québec City, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, London, Windsor, Sudbury, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria, Yellowknife and Whitehorse. There are even rallies being planned in the US and the UK!

Perogies Not Proroguing
1.00 p.m.   Rally in St George’s Square and parade to Knox Church (note new venue!)
1.30 p.m.   Perogies / hot drinks will be served at Knox Church
2.00 p.m.   MP FrankValeriote and panel discussion/Q&A

Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament is a national grassroots group started on Facebook about two weeks ago. The group now has an incredible 195,000 members and is growing daily.

If you haven’t yet joined the group, visit them on the web here.

Also, check out the website www.noprorogue.ca.

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The venerable British magazine, The Economist has weighed in about Stephen Harper proroguing parliament. Their editorial is definitely worth repeating.

Its starting to look like Stephen Harper may have seriously misjudged the mood of the nation. With a Facebook group that is growing exponentially, we now also have a Guelph event to support, Perogies not Proroguing! Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament.

The event takes place on January 23 with a rally in St George’s Square at 1.00 p.m. followed by a panel discussion in in Knox Church. Rev. John Lawson will moderate a discussion featuring Guelph MP Frank Valeriote, history teacher Phil Allt, and more. Hot perogies and beverages will be served.

Voice your support for a working government!

Halted in Mid-Debate
The Economist
January 7 2010

Stephen Harper is counting on Canadians’ complacency as he rewrites the rules of his country’s politics to weaken legislative scrutiny

THE timing said everything. Stephen Harper, the prime minister, chose December 30th, the day five Canadians were killed in Afghanistan and when the public and the media were further distracted by the announcement of the country’s all-important Olympic ice-hockey team, to let his spokesman reveal that Parliament would remain closed until March 3rd, instead of returning as usual, after its Christmas break, in the last week of January.

Mr Harper turned a customary recess into prorogation. This means that all committees in both houses are disbanded and government bills die, no matter how close they are to approval. The prime minister, who heads a Conservative minority government, clearly reckoned that giving legislators an extra winter break, during which they might visit the Winter Olympics (in Vancouver between February 12th and 28th), would not bother Canadians much.

He may have miscalculated. A gathering storm of media criticism has extended even to the Calgary HERALD, the main newspaper in his political home city, which denounced him for “a cynical political play”. There are plans for demonstrations on January 23rd, just before Parliament would have reconvened. “Parliamentary democracy is in danger,” declared Peter Russell of the University of Toronto, who was one of 132 political scientists who signed a letter condemning the prorogation and calling for electoral reform.

Past Canadian prime ministers have normally asked the governor-general (who acts as Canada’s head of state) to prorogue Parliament only after the government has completed most of its legislative business in order to start afresh with a new speech from the throne outlining new priorities. But nothing has been normal in Canadian politics since 2004, when more than two decades of majority government ended with voters electing a Liberal minority government. They then returned Conservative minority governments in 2006 and 2008.

Far from completing its work, Parliament was still considering important measures, including bills that are part of Mr Harper’s crackdown on crime, as well as ratification of free-trade agreements with Colombia and Jordan. All must now be reintroduced. So why shut down Parliament? Breaking six days of silence, Mr Harper said this week that it was a “routine” move to allow the government to adjust its budget due on March 4th. His spokesman claimed that the 63-day gap between sessions was less than the average prorogation of 151 days since 1867. However, the average in the past three decades has been just 22 days.

Opposition leaders claimed Mr Harper’s real reason was to end an embarrassing debate on the government’s apparent complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees, and in particular to avoid complying with a parliamentary motion to hand over all documents relevant to those charges. They also claim that the prime minister wanted to name new senators and then reconstitute the Senate’s committees to reflect the Conservatives’ additional representation, something that could not be done if Parliament was merely adjourned.

Having prorogued Parliament last winter to dodge a confidence vote he seemed set to lose, Mr Harper has now established a precedent that many constitutionalists consider dangerous. No previous prime minister has prorogued the legislature “in order to avoid the kind of things that Harper apparently wants to avoid,” says Ned Franks, a veteran political scientist and historian of Parliament. Although other prime ministers may have had ulterior motives, they were less blatant, he says.

The danger in allowing the prime minister to end discussion any time he chooses is that it makes Parliament accountable to him rather than the other way around. Some of Mr Harper’s critics are also affronted by his high-handedness in not bothering to call on the governor-general personally to ask for prorogation, as tradition demands, but instead making his request by telephone. “That was gravely insulting to the governor-general and the country,” says Mr Russell.

Whether Mr Harper gets away with his innovative use of prime ministerial powers depends largely on whether the protest spreads and can be sustained until Parliament reconvenes in March. Mr Harper is doubtless counting on the Winter Olympics to reinforce Canadians’ familiar political complacency. But he has given the opposition, which is divided and fumbling, an opportunity. It is now up to it to show that Canada cannot afford a part-time Parliament that sits only at the prime minister’s pleasure.

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As far as the act of proroguing parliament is concerned, its starting to look like Stephen Harper may have seriously misjudged the mood of the nation.

As if there isn’t enough cynicism out there with regard to the antics of politicians.

With a Facebook group that is growing exponentially, we now have a Guelph event to support, Perogies not Proroguing! Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament.

They are still working on the details but its good to see Guelph’s MP Frank Valeriote getting involved. With talk of the liberals attending parliament as usual on January 25, Stephen Harper may be left with a significant amount of egg or soured cream on his chin.

What were they saying about not being able to talk and chew gum at the same time?

Shutting down parliament so we can all focus on the olympic-sized boondoggle in Vancouver? Ridiculous.

Can we please have a new Prime Minister?

One that believes in democracy.

Perogies not Proroguing! Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament

When:  Saturday, January 23,  2010
Time:  1.00 p.m. – 4.00 p.m.
Location:  Downtown Guelph

The Council of Canadians-Guelph Chapter and Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament (Guelph Chapter) are having a public rally in St George’s Square and a panel discussion at Knox Church in Downtown Guelph on January 23 starting at 1.00 p.m. Hot perogies and beverages will be served.

Voice your support for a working government. Let’s sign a Back to Work order!

Rev. John Lawson will moderate a discussion including our MP Frank Valeriote, history teacher Phil Allt, and more. Bring your questions!

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Our pre-election Royal City Rag, we started the show with the Canadian Artists Climate Change Awareness song “You have a choice” followed by Hawksley Workman’s wonderful comments from the U of G Student Town Hall about why it is important to vote in the coming federal general election.

Listen to Hawksley’s comments here:

Get Informed and get engaged! Make sure you vote on October 14th.

Lynn Broughton from the Downtown Guelph Business Association joined us to talk about Dig-in Downtown, their downtown restaurant promotion.

Prix fixe meals are available every Tuesday and Wednesday throughout October from thirteen of Downtown Guelph’s finest kitchens. Lunches are in the $10-$15 range and dinners, $20-$30 per person. Due to the popularity of this event, reservations are highly recommended.

According to Lynn, “This annual harvest celebration will fully satisfy the public’s appetite for a sumptuous yet affordable meal – flavoured locally.”


The participating restaurants are:

  • The Albion Hotel
  • Artisanale Café & Bistro
  • Atmosphere Café + etc.
  • Babel Fish Bistro
  • Bin 23
  • Bollywood Bistro
  • The Bookshelf Greenroom & Ebar
  • Carden Street Café
  • Diana Downtown
  • Friends in Our Kitchen
  • Georgian Creed’s
  • Wild Organic Way (WOW)
  • The Woolwich Arms & Arrow

Visit http://www.downtownguelph.com for the Dig-In Brochure online today!

On next week’s show we will be previewing The 23rd Guelph Studio Tour.

Listen to the show here:

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There’s more lobbying for the Arts and Culture planned. Stephen Harper certainly knows how to energize “ordinary Canadians”.

Did I mention that Hawksley Workman is coming to the U of G tomorrow, Thursday October 2 4-6 p.m. in the UC courtyard, to specifically discuss this issue?

From the Writers’ Union of Canada:

The Writers’ Union of Canada is working with the Writers Guild of  Canada and ACTRA to organize a mass rally in Toronto in support of our extraordinary artists and our culture on Wednesday, October 8th from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in front of the CBC Broadcasting Centre at Front and John Street, at the foot of the entertainment  district.

We need your participation to help send a clear message to all political parties that Canadian artists are ordinary Canadians with real jobs and that there are plenty of us. And we have friends.

We hope to have a rally of one thousand artists and their friends.  So please feel free to pass on this e-mail. I hope to see you at the rally.

Deborah A Windsor
Executive Director
The Writers’ Union of Canada
90 Richmond Street East, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario M5C 1P1
Phone: 416.703.8982 ext 221
Fax: 416.504.9090

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