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My nomination speech in Saanich-Gulf Islands

By Stuart Hertzog
September 19th, 2009

We need a new kind of politics. We need Green politics.

Good afternoon everyone

My name is Stuart Hertzog.

I’m a writer, editor and publication designer by profession.

I’m also a long-time environmental and political activist.

In 1989 I ran a successful campaign for Greenpeace Canada to stop a toxic waste incinerator on the lower mainland.

Waste incineration not a Green solution. It wasn’t then, and it still isn’t today.

I was then able to help prevent mayor Gordon Campbell from building a garbage processing plant in Vancouver against the wishes of residents.

This success forced the GVRD to adopt blue-box recycling.

I then went on to work on municipal recycling, gypsy moth spray, air pollution and energy, and on maintaining the moratorium on BC offshore oil and gas exploration.

I first became politically active with the Green Party in Alberta in 1983.

When I came to BC I joined the NDP and was an active member of its Green Caucus.

I was a candidate for the NDP in Vancouver-Quilchena in 1991.

In 1996 I rejoined the BC Green Party and ran in Bulkley Valley Stikine.

That experience convinced me that parachute candidates don’t work.

I ran for the BC Greens in Victoria-Hillside in 2001, taking almost 20% of the vote.

I am also a blogger, running the political commentary site greenpolitics.ca.

I’m standing before you today to become your candidate because I’m deeply concerned about the state of democracy in Canada, and in the Green Party.

I have run many environmental campaigns.

We won our campaigns because we gave people the straight facts about a project.

People would agree with us, and public opinion would force the politicians to make the right decision.

The ones we lost were because the decision to go ahead had already been made, behind closed doors, in private meetings between government ministers and industry, in cabinet, or in camera.

Secret decisions behind closed doors only benefit the proponents of a project.

They never benefit the environment, protect habitat and ecosystems, distribute resources fairly to all citizens, or ensure the survival of other living species.

They only ever seem to benefit a few rich, apparently insatiable, human beings.

My years of activism have convinced me that we are never going to protect the environment, slow down global warming, or achieve world peace and a just society, unless we have a biocentric and participatory democracy that gives people the right to decide issues that impact their lives, and which respects Nature.

Our present democracy is never going to allow that.

The British Parliamentary system was never intended to be democratic.

It was designed to protect the interests of the ruling élites.

It is a system that comes down from Kings, and speaks of Empires.

Over the years, there have been changes: universal suffrage; votes for women.

But the basic hierarchical system remains.

Prime ministers and party leaders have all the power.

Once elected, they can act as petty dictators.

As a result, our parliamentary democracy is dysfunctional.

Progressively, starting with Pierre Elliot Trudeau, power has been taken away from parliament, and even from cabinet.

Power has been transferred into the Prime Minister’s office and the Privy Council.

Power to represent their constituents has been removed from elected MPs.

Ministerial responsibility has been reduced to an empty sham.

The civil service has been politicised and is no longer impartial.

Party leaders and their advisors act like dictators, reducing candidates and even elected caucus to “yes” people.

Once we cast our vote, our supposed representative trots off to Ottawa and we rarely see him or her again.

And even more insidiously, our basic citizens rights and civil liberties have been steadily eroded by the rise of state ‘security’ in response to the tragedy of 9-11.

A billion dollars will be spent on security for the 2010 Olympics next year.

A billion dollars!

Armed troops and private security forces on the streets of Vancouver?

For what?

To prevent peaceful protesters from expressing their right to free speech?

To move homeless people and drug addicts who cannot get the help they need, out of sight of those who can afford the price of admission?

A billion dollars — while thousands of Canadians are homeless on the streets of our cities, and young children go hungry to school because their family is poor?

There’s always money for security, and for the endless war in Afghanistan.

My friends, our democracy is under attack — make no mistake about it.

I’ve watched as multinational corporations started labeling it as “command and control” in the 1970s.

They didn’t like the fact that it forced them to reduce pollution.

In the 1980s they wanted to “reinvent government” because it was “inefficient.”

9-11 gave them the final excuse to increase government and private surveillance, and limit civil liberties in the name of “security.”

We must wake up to what is happening.

Canadians, we must stand on guard — for Democracy.

I stand before you today because I believe deeply in Green political principles.

The four pillars of Green politics are:

  • Peace and non-violence, which are based on Acceptance
  • Social Justice, which is based on Equality
  • Eco-centrism, which is based on Interdependence, and
  • Participatory Democracy, which is based on Respect

All of these are important, but primary among them is participatory democracy.

This means that everyone affected by an issue must have a vote in its decision.

“Top-down” democracy directed by a distant, autocratic government, making decisions behind closed doors, is not participatory.

It benefits only a few.

We need a new kind of politics. We need Green politics.

The old way of doing things is not going to help us overcome the major challenges facing us today.

With others, I began warning about global warming in the early 1980s.

Almost a quarter of a century later, the world’s politicians have failed to halt the growth of greenhouse gases.

All they can do is talk.

We need a politics of involvement and respect, to tackle the major issues of world peace, economic justice, pollution, and climate change.

We need a Green Party that practices Green politics, as it is supposed to be.

Unfortunately, the Green Party of Canada has drifted away from its political roots.

Imitating the other political parties isn’t going to save us.

We must practice what we preach.

We must move beyond light green environmentalism, fiddling with a broken, undemocratic, and anti-ecological political process.

Our country is crying out for a new kind of politics.

Only a Green Party that stays true to its political principles, can offer it to them.

We can do that only if we ourselves understand what it means to be Green.

I have just two purposes in mind: to protect life on Earth in all its myriad forms, and to end the suffering of all beings, human and animal.

Those are the tasks I have vowed to undertake.

With your help, we go forward to throw the mean, anti-life government of Stephen Harper, out onto the streets.

Let them experience how thousands of Canadians are forced to live each day.

I ask for your support and your vote.

The future of Canadian democracy is in your hands.

Together, we can make it work for all of us, and for all that lives.

Please chose me as your candidate today.

Thank you.


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24 Responses

  1. Sebastian Ronin Says:

    Stuart, re “Unfortunately, the Green Party of Canada has drifted away from its political roots.”

    By simple virtue of its size, scope of mandate, and purporting to function on behalf of the industrial nation-state, how could it not? Futility, failure and betrayal were programmed into the mandate the day the GPC was founded. In a post-9/11 world and coupled to the political affiliation of a Global Green Charter, the two NAmerican national Green parties are not only a bothersome hindrance, they are potentially dangerous.

    Fortunately, the historical redundancy and irrelevance of the GPC is about to trump any potential danger. It is a last, liberal, environmentalist hoorah of an attempt to politically salvage a comfortable world and its related technological determinism. In an era of ecological and energy collapse, there is no place for it. The pink glasses become shattered.

    You put up a good fight. But the fight must be seen in a larger historical context. Only a few will muster the courage and stamina to take that look. Even less will undertake the required political action.

  2. Dan Says:


    While I don’t agree with some of your earlier posts, I will say this was a fairly well written speech. I think you will find that there are a lot of greens who may not share your tactics, but agree with your ideas.

    It is too bad that your earlier posts (and reason for running) did not convey vision as much as opposition, but I will thank you for in the end focussing on what you feel it means to be Green.

    We do need a revived sense of politics and participatory democracy, and the only way we are going to get there is to end our fascination on what is wrong and focus on articulating what is right and where we want to go. People may agree with you on what is wrong, but people will follow you when you show them what is right.

    I encourage you to focus on expanding your ideas and working within the party to push for positive reinforcement and constructive criticism.

  3. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    Thank you for your kind comment on my speech, Dan.

    It’s always a trick to balance criticism with a vision of what could be. People don’t want anything to change unless they can see for themselves that things are not the way they should be. They have to know what’s going on before they’ll see the need for change. Unfortunately, the first reaction is always denial, followed by anger at the messenger. It takes time for people to cotton to what’s really happening.

    I’ll take your advice, though. I still have to deal with the request from Elections Canada, but I’ll be outlining my positive vision for strengthening democracy in Canada and in the Green Party on my blog. Stay tuned!

  4. Karl (Carlo) Hengst Says:

    Hi Stuart,

    I am following your column with interest.

    Just last year I moved to Summerside, PEI from Alberta and also became a member of the GPC. I have a lot to learn about green politics, (I like that name)and I have a lot of research to do. I am 72 years old. I find great wisdom and peace of mind in the Dhamma. From reading your site I feel good that there are people like you around, who bravely stand up for their perception and publish their vision with skill and clarity of mind. I refer to your 4 basic statements. Unlike Dan I see great vision in your writing.


  5. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    Thank you, Carlo. There has always been a strong spiritual aspect to Green politics for me, and the teaching of Interdependence has always reminded me of the fact that we have been created by Nature and are a part of the web of life — even though we seem to be going through a very infantile stage of development as a species right now. But many people have been working on themselves spiritually in many ways, so they can better protect that which is precious to all of us. It gives me optimism to know that we are part of a broad movement with many shoulders to the wheel.

  6. John Ogilvie Says:

    Stuart, this is a strong speech.

    Why don’t you seek the nomination in another riding? You would make an excellent candidate, IMHO.

  7. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    Thank you, John. There is already a candidate in Victoria, where I live, and as I don’t believe in parachute candidates, that’s it for me.

  8. John Ogilvie Says:

    Here’s a comment I left on a blog run by a young green critical of your nomination run.

    “Herzog was active in the Green Party and similar movements before you were born.

    If you continue as a Green activist for twenty-five years, you may earn the right to call him “bizarre” or “amusing”. But by then you will have become an adult and learned better manners.”

  9. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    I appreciate your intervention. I just wish that age actually brought better manners: politeness isn’t necessarily something that comes with age.

  10. mary griffin Says:


    Is it true that the Green party has a “save your self esteem” clause in its rules?. Everyone would love to know how many grass roots votes you garnered after your extensive media campaign. That same media seems to imply that the contest was a close one but friends who were there tell me you only got 2 votes. Is it true? Was one of these votes your own?

    As for the Victoria Green candidate being a parachute again you are telling fibs–you seem to have a real problem in this regard–as the candidate lives on Thompson Street that is clearly within the riding.

  11. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    Hi Mary,

    I have no idea as to how many votes I received as the numbers were not released. I went to the meeting fully expecting to receive no votes, as the time allowed for the nomination campaign was so ridiculously short. Also, it was apparent that most members had bought the party line that the Green Party won’t be effective until it gets somebody elected. I reject that view.

    I believe the Green Party has already been effective simply by putting forward environmental policies and running candidates wherever it can. This has forced other parties to at least pay lip service to green issues.

    So I was not in the least bit surprised by the result, especially as I could not even vote for myself. Ms. May had arranged for her membership to be transferred into the riding at least 30 days before the meeting, so she could conveniently cast a vote for herself. It helps to be able to control your own election process — but isn’t that a conflict of interest?

    After years of electoral failure, the Green Party has to pay attention to its own and Canadian democratic process, otherwise it will not achieve the political, environmental, and social goals of its constitution and policies. I believe the Green Party is still far from being a model of participatory democracy, as my experience in this nomination campaign has illustrated.

  12. Sir Says:


    It’s not surprising to me that the numbers were so one sided. Elizabeth had the member list for ages, and Stuart only got it with a few days remaining. Have a look at the story that appeared on the National last Friday:

    Elizabeth May’s New Challenge

    Go to about 1:23 and you can see her making personal phone calls to all of the members, and her list is well crossed off (as having been phoned I presume).

  13. "Sudbury" Steve May Says:

    Stuart, you’ve indicated that the results of the vote were never released. Yet, the GPC’s media release on this topic refers to Elizabeth May winning in a “landslide”. I wonder how this statement can be supported if the numbers were not released publicly? That seems truly bizarre to me.

    With regards to Elizabeth transferring her membership to SGI 30 days in advance of the nomination meeting, I find this very interesting. I just did a quick look for the codified process for transferring one’s membership on the GPC website, and could not locate a process. The reference to “30 days” is elsewhere prescribed in the GPC Constitution for members to be eligible to vote in nomination contests (they must be members of an EDA for at least 30 days in advance of the meeting).

    Initially, I didn’t think much of this, and was about to suggest that you probably could have done the same thing. But then, I thought… well, why just Stuart and Elizabeth? Neither of them have their principle residence in SGI. Why couldn’t I also have transferred my membership to SGI 30 days in advance and cast a ballot? Why not anyone else in the Party?

    What’s up with this? I have been under the impression that to be a member of an EDA, you MUST reside within the boundaries of the EDA. And to cast a ballot in a nomination contest, you must be a member of the EDA.

    Elizabeth May has indicated in the past that she has started looking for a home. What kind of residency did she have in SGI 30 days in advance of the nomination meeting that she was eligible by the Party to transfer her membership? Doesn’t she still have permanent residency in Nova Scotia? I wonder if her residence was 2147 Beacon Avenue, Sidney, which is referenced as her Campaign Office in the “landslide” media release? And I wonder if that office is zoned for residential uses (if not, it would be a stretch to suggest that she was a resident).

    I suspect that there’s an explanation for all of this… but I’m concerned that the explanation might be, “Guess what, our processes never contemplated this, and it looks like anyone can transfer their membership anywhere, anytime!” That little loophole could create some interesting problems for the Party in the future.

    If you can, in your next blog, could you please share with us your version of events at the nomination meeting?

  14. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    You raise some interesting issues of process and timing, Steve.

    What is the legal definition of one’s place of residence? How long does one have to be there before a membership can be transferred? How is this done? What proof of residency is acceptable to an EDA? Was this proof ever required, or was the party’s database simply changed? Who changed the party’s CiviCRM membership database, and when? Can you just go to another part of the country, rent an apartment or a house, declare residency there and instantly become a member of that EDA?

    There’s a big difference between descending on a place and really making that place your home. It takes years to learn about a different culture, and to develop a sense of “belonging” to that place to the point that it becomes an intimate part of you. Otherwise, it’s just pretence, an aspect of the rootless, North American habit of constantly moving residence to without ever belonging to anywhere — head in the clouds but no feet on the Earth.

    That rootlessness allows people to exploit any ecosystem for personal gain, then move on to destroy the next one. Oil patch workers — construction workers — developers — contract workers of all kinds — economic migrants, just going where the money is to make a bundle and move on. It’s economic imperialism, not a personal relationship to place.

    The timing aspect could be crucial, as if the database was changed more than 30 days before the membership meeting as Elizabeth told me in a casual conversation at the nomination meeting, then she was planning to run in Saanich-Gulf Islands long before she “officially” declared. This not only makes a mockery of her declared indecision, it also means that she became a nomination candidate before September 1st, 2009.

    I think that Green Party members, myself, and all Canadians need to be told the truth about when and how Elizabeth May came to be declared a ‘resident’ of Saanich-Gulf Islands, and why she pretended not to have made up her mind when indeed she and the party had already committed to this riding. Come on, Elizabeth, ‘fess up. When and how did this happen?

  15. John Ogilvie Says:

    Steve, Stuart, and others – please stand down.

    The points are valid (and awfully interesting) but they’re down in the weeds, in terms of significance.

    Yes, there were some slippery bits in SGI, as there ahs been elsewhere. But at the end of the day Elizabeth deserved to win, based on what she brought to the riding’s campaign.

    In 2010 there will be a mandatory leadership race. Concentrate your efforts there.

  16. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    John, I accept that Elizabeth was overwhelmingly chosen as the candidate in SGI by the members. I didn’t seriously believe that I had anything more than an outside chance at being elected. But there were more than ‘slippery bits’ in this nomination campaign. It was by no means a fair, open, and proper democratic process, which is something that every member has a right to expect from a Green party — do they not?

    I believe that the Green Party broke a significant number of rules, both its own and Elections Canada’s, in an effort to block and bury my campaign. But I persisted, because I object to the way the party has been stealthily and progressively diverted from its original intent, which was to provide an alternative, participatory and democratic approach to politics. Things have gotten so bad that the Green Party is now using exactly the same devious and underhanded techniques to control its grassroots EDAs and members and promote its leader, as the other political parties.

    I believe that without an open, honest, biocentric and participatory democracy, we will not achieve an of our stated goals of environmental protection, ecological preservation, world peace, and amelioration of global warming. I know that this is a difficult message for people to grasp immediately, especially when faced with the glittering prospect of someone — anyone — becoming the first elected Green MP in Canada.

    But without the Green Party adhering to its principles, that victory is going to be hollow indeed. The state of democracy in Canada and in the Green Party are connected. Until you grasp where I’m coming from, John, you will do as other party members have tried to do, which is to try to shut me down. I won’t be silenced, because I believe that the very survival of both our political democracy and life on this planet as we know it, are at stake.

    Perhaps Elizabeth deserved to win — but I also deserved to have been treated respectfully and fairly in my nomination campaign. I wasn’t, and that throws a terrible light on the state of democracy in the Green Party, which is part of the reason why I stood against Elizabeth in the first place.

    Democracy is ‘down in the weeds,’ John, in the Green Party and in Canada. I’m trying to re-grow it from its grass roots, starting here and now.

  17. "Sudbury" Steve May Says:

    Well, I am going to follow John’s advice and stand down, after making a few last comments here. With regards to “residency”, while I understand what Stuart is saying, I think that his argument has more to do with “home” than “residency”. Yes, society might benefit from having a little less of a rootless existence, but currently this is the reality for many. Given this reality, then, we need to have rules and laws which provide a basic level of guidance. For example, university students who attend out-of-town schools should be allowed to cast their votes in a federal election in the community which they are currently residing. I don’t think many Greens would take issue with that.

    If Elizabeth May was moving across the country and temporarily living somewhere in SGI with an uncertain nomination contest outcome in her future (uncertain because it had not yet occurred), and having expressed that she was looking for a house, it would appear to me that she was meeting the “residency” test. Heck, I’ve done this myself when I moved to Sudbury: I was paying rent on an apartment in Toronto in which I was not living, and paying rent on an apartment in Sudbury where I was temporarily residing while I was looking for a house to purchase. If someone had asked me what my residence was (or where I would vote), I would have used the Sudbury apartment address.

    My only concern would be if the “residence” was identified as the Beacon Avenue office. I suspect, though, that it wasn’t. More likely she was billeting with somebody, as billeting is a great Green Party practice. Sure, there may be some semantic arguments to make regarding when does a houseguest become a resident, but I’ll take you back to my own experience. Had I been living with a friend in Sudbury when I moved here, looking for a home, I would still have voted in an election using my friend’s address, had I been inhabiting that space for the required period of time.

    Whatever her intentions might have been 30 or so more days in advance of the September 19th nomination meeting, I don’t know that they really matter to this discussion. I realize that there was a “guessing game” going on…and didn’t the Party and Elizabeth receive some generally positive media coverage as a result? Yes, maybe she knew what her intentions were going to be prior to publicly declaring, but keep in mind her ability to follow through on those intentions might have had to be placed on hold, as she found that she would have to face a nomination contest first.

    And as a result, she probably got the ball rolling by finding a temporary place to stay in SGI, which would have made sense if she was house-hunting, and wanting to cast a ballot in her new EDA’s nomination contest, in which she was a contestant. Looks to me like it’s a non-issue, and so I’ll now follow John O.’s advice and stand down.

    It’s actually good to know that the process likely played itself out as it was required to do.

  18. Sebastian Ronin Says:

    Steve, with all due respect, them’s a lot of words to address a simple issue. Is Liz May a parachute candidate in SGI or not?

  19. "Sudbury" Steve May Says:

    Is she a parachute candidate? Yes. Did she pack her parachute appropriately before making the jump? It appears that she did. The Party’s rules, like those of the other major parties in this country, permit parachute candidates. Which I believe is a good thing, given that we still don’t have EDA’s in all of our ridings, and often candidates from outside of riding boundaries need to be located. Do I think this is the best approach? Usually, no, I don’t; I’d much prefer we have candidates from the communities in which they are running. But sometimes, that’s not possible. And sometimes, such as the situation here with Elizabeth, it may not even be desirable for the good of the Party. And I believe that Elizabeth’s decision to run in SGI, no matter when she made her mind up about it, was a decision which was for the good of the Party, and I’m also certain it was not an easy decision for her to make.

    I realize others will disagree with me on this, and suggest that parachute candidates need to be avoided at all costs, for the sake of grassroots credibility. I can’t agree, because I believe that the future of our Party is predicated on electing MP’s (something I know that others don’t agree with me on either).

    As per Dave Bagler’s recent blogpost, I’m very happy to hear that Elizabeth May has started going out to important local meetings, such as the one organized by a Conservative MP about a marina issue. I have no doubt that Elizabeth will totally immerse herself in making Sidney her new home, likely moreso than I have tried making my Sudbury my own new home, even though I’ve been living here now for almost 9 years.

  20. mary griffin Says:

    My understanding is that Elizabeth “moved” to Sidney around August 1st staying with a friend on 3rd Street while she house hunted. She rented the house beginning in september at the corner of Amelia nd restahaven in Sidney. So she had been a resident of the riding for over a month and a half before the nomination meeting. her residency credentials were checked and verified at the meeting where I assume you had your own representaives engaged in the check in process. What is your problem with this procedure?

    As to the voters list the EDA membership chair confirms in writing that you received the riding membership list three days before it was given to Elizabeth. My understanding is that you chose to e-mail riding members on several occassions in support of your candidacy while Elizabeth chose instead to personally phone each and every member. What, pray tell, is unfair or undemocratic in this?. Really,Stuart, I just don’t get your point. You chose to oppose Elizabeth May in an attempt to defy the Green Party’s priority decision–made by its grass roots, democratically elected Federal Council– that electing Elizabeth May to Parliament was the priority in the next election. The grass roots membership confirmed their support for this policy by coming to the nominating meeting and voting for Elizabeth as their chosen candidate. You lost–badly. My guess is that you know precisely how many votes you didn’t get since you had your own scrutineer present at the vote count but you are too embarassed to admit your total failure on this blog by pretending that you don’t know the results when obviously you do. Now you plan more mischief and, I suspect an attempt at some more of that tantalizing publicity– by pursuing your complaints to Elections Canada. Why can’t you accept your defeat like a man and move on??? Is your hope now to try and smear Elizabeth and the Green party’s campaign in your attempt to stop her winning a seat in open defiance of the Party’s democratically decided goal?. What a sad and pathetic character you are. Give your head a shake,Stuart. Listen to the posts above of other grass roots members and let it go. you are making yourself appear very silly and very spiteful when folks whove known you for ages tell me that you are neither.

  21. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    Thanks for the information, Mary. So now we know that Ms May planned to run in Saanich-Gulf Islands long before she ‘officially’ announced her intention, and that her coy public protestations that she hadn’t yet decided to run were simply a deception to keep the interest of the media and motivate members to plead with her to come here. People will certainly be truth-testing any future public statements Ms May may make.

    And Mary, I understand that the decision on where she was to run wasn’t actually made by the Federal Council, which were simply informed about it after it was made. Nothing appears in Council minutes about it because no motion was ever made. This contradicts Ms May’s statements that this was a decision of Council. Again, she fails a ‘truthiness’ test.

    As for accepting my defeat “like a man and move on,” well, I’m male and I accept the defeat, which went just about how I figured it, a little better in fact, and I’m moving on to complete what I started (most men try to do that, Mary) and send to Elections Canada the documentation I have about the Green Party hierarchy’s despicable treatment of my candidacy.

    As for your derogatory epithets describing me, I must remind you that ad hominem arguments are not permitted on this site, and if you persist any future comments containing any will be blocked. You are welcome to continue to address issues, however. Finally, thank you for reporting that my quiet, friendly, cheerful public persona remains intact.

  22. Sir Says:

    Looks like Mary is shilling for Elizabeth.

    Elizabeth’s brother, Geoffrey often does the same on the G&M comment boards. Occasionally, providing questionable arguments. He was “outed” on this article regarding the nomination results. About the fourth or fifth page of the comments.


  23. Oemissions Says:

    I commend you for running. Why not?

    It was a wakeup message to the Greens and many others concerned about Canadian politics.

    Elizabeth is great but let’s not consider her infallible or create an idol or cult.

  24. Stuart Hertzog Says:

    Thanks, Oemissions. I’m glad somebody understands why I stood against Ms May. The cult of leadership is left over from the time of tribalism and kingship. It allows élites to retain power by elevating their leader to an almost mystical status. It’s used by corporate executives to justify their obscenely inflated salaries and stock options. It also reeks of militarism. I believe it is fundamentally undemocratic — no wonder the corporate media focuses on party leaders to the exclusion of almost everything else!

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