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Peter MacKay

The Honourable
Peter MacKay
Minister of Justice
Assumed office
July 15, 2013
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Rob Nicholson
Minister of National Defence
In office
August 14, 2007 – July 15, 2013
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Gordon O'Connor
Succeeded by Rob Nicholson
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
February 6, 2006 – August 14, 2007
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Pierre Pettigrew
Succeeded by Maxime Bernier
Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
In office
February 6, 2006 – January 19, 2010
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Joe McGuire
Succeeded by Keith Ashfield
Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party
In office
May 31, 2003 – December 6, 2003
Preceded by Joe Clark
Succeeded by John Lynch-Staunton (Acting Leader of the Conservative Party)
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Central Nova
In office
June 28, 2004 – October 19, 2015
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Sean Fraser
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough
In office
June 2, 1997 – June 28, 2004
Preceded by Roseanne Skoke
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party
Assumed office
March 22, 2004
Preceded by Position established
Personal details
Born Peter Gordon MacKay
(1965-09-27) September 27, 1965
New Glasgow, Nova Scotia
Political party Conservative Party (2003–present)
Other political
Progressive Conservative Party (1997–2003)
Spouse(s) Nazanin Afshin-Jam (m. 2012)
Children Kian Alexander (b. 2013)
Valentia Makaja (b. 2015)
Residence Lorne, Nova Scotia
Alma mater Acadia University
Carleton University
Dalhousie University
Profession Crown attorney

Peter Gordon MacKay, PC, QC (born September 27, 1965) is a lawyer and politician from Nova Scotia, Canada. He was the Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2015 and has served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General (2013–2015), Minister of National Defence (2007–2013), and Minister of Foreign Affairs (2006–2007) in the Cabinet of Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He is married to Nazanin Afshin-Jam an Iranian-Canadian model, singer, and human rights activist, and a former Miss World Canada.

MacKay was the final leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (PC Party). On October 15, 2003, he and Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper agreed to merge the two parties, forming the Conservative Party of Canada. In December 2003, members of both parties ratified the merger.

On May 29, 2015, MacKay announced that he would not be a candidate in the next federal election, held on October 19, 2015.[1]


  • Early life and career 1
  • Member of Parliament 2
  • 2003 leadership race 3
  • PC leadership convention 4
  • Conservative party merger 5
  • Government 6
    • Minister of Foreign Affairs 6.1
    • Minister of National Defence 6.2
    • Minister of Justice 6.3
  • Election results 7
  • Personal life 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life and career

MacKay was born in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. His father, Elmer MacKay, is a former PC cabinet minister, lumber businessman, and lawyer. His mother, Eirene Macha MacKay (née Delap), is a psychologist and peace activist; through her, MacKay is descended from James Alexander, 3rd Earl of Caledon and James Grimston, 1st Earl of Verulam.[2][3][4][5][6] MacKay grew up in Wolfville, Nova Scotia with his three siblings. He graduated from Horton High School in Greenwich, Nova Scotia, and then went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Acadia University/Carleton University in 1987, MacKay then studied Law at Dalhousie University[7] and was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in June 1991. He worked for Thyssen Henschel, steel producer, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in Düsseldorf and Kassel, Germany.

In 1993, MacKay accepted an appointment as Crown Attorney for the Central Region of Nova Scotia. He prosecuted cases at all levels, including youth and provincial courts as well as the Supreme Court of Canada. MacKay has publicly stated that the major impetus for his entry into federal politics was his frustrations with the shortcomings in the justice system, particularly his perception that the courts do not care about the impact crime has on victims.

Member of Parliament

Peter MacKay speaking in Brazil, 2007.

MacKay was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the June 2, 1997 federal election for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, a riding in northeastern Nova Scotia.[8] He was one of a handful of newly elected "Young Turk" PC MPs (including John Herron, André Bachand and Scott Brison), who were under 35 years old when elected and were considered the future leadership material that might restore the ailing Tories to their glory days. In his first term of office, MacKay served as Justice Critic and House Leader for the Progressive Conservative parliamentary caucus. MacKay was the PC member of the Board of Internal Economy and the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. He also acted as an associate member of the Standing Committees on Canadian Heritage, Finance and the sub-committee on the Study of Sport.

MacKay was re-elected in the 2000 federal election and was frequently touted by the media as a possible successor to PC Party leader Joe Clark. Many of his initial supporters referred to his strong performances in the House of Commons and magnetism as key attributes that would make him a popular leader. MacKay has been voted the "sexiest male MP in the House of Commons" by the Hill Times (a Parliament Hill newspaper) for six years in a row. When asked in a 2001 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary on the resurgence of the PC Party if he would ever consider running for the PC leadership, MacKay quipped, "If there's one thing I've learned in politics it's 'never say never.' Jean Charest taught me that."

In August 2001, he was one of several PC MPs to engage in open cooperation talks with disaffected Canadian Alliance MPs in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. Eventually a union of sorts was created between the PCs and the newly formed Democratic Representative Caucus (DRC). MacKay was appointed House Leader of the new PC-DR Parliamentary Coalition Caucus when it was formally recognized as a political body on September 10, 2001. The PC-DR initiative collapsed in April 2002, raising questions about Clark's leadership. Clark announced his impending resignation as party leader at the PC Party's bi-annual convention held in Edmonton, Alberta in August 2002. MacKay's name was one of the first to be raised as a possible leadership contender.

2003 leadership race

MacKay was largely seen as the assumed victor of the race from the outset of the leadership contest. Ultimately, his candidacy was helped by the absence of so-called "dream candidates" such as provincial Progressive Conservative Premiers Bernard Lord, Mike Harris and Ralph Klein who did not run for the leadership. MacKay formally launched his leadership campaign in his hometown of New Glasgow in January 2003. From the onset of the campaign, MacKay insisted that his primary goal upon assuming the leadership would be the rebuilding the fractured conservative movement from within the PC tent. For much of the race, MacKay was the clear front-runner. Several opponents, including former PC Party Treasurer Jim Prentice, social conservative candidate Craig Chandler, and Red Tory Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison, painted MacKay as a status quo or "establishment" candidate who could effectively question the Prime Minister.

MacKay's campaign was largely based on his leadership skills and a national organization rather than on policies or new directions. MacKay is largely viewed by political analysts as a Red Tory.[9] The Honourable Peter MacKay voted in favour of same-sex marriage in 2006.[10]

PC leadership convention

MacKay entered the first ballot of the PC leadership convention held on May 31, 2003 with roughly 41% of the delegates supporting him. However, on the second ballot, MacKay's support dropped to 39%. On the third ballot, MacKay's support reached 45% but many of his supporters were convinced that he had hit his popular peak. Some analysts noted that the eliminated third-place challenger David Orchard drew his 25% bulk of delegate supporters largely from the Western prairie provinces. Orchard was prepared to speak with either MacKay or Prentice to determine if a deal could be reached over some of the issues that he raised during the leadership campaign. As the results of the third ballot were called, MacKay's campaign manager, PC Senator Noël Kinsella, hastily arranged a backroom meeting between MacKay, Orchard, and their campaign advisors. During the meeting, MacKay reached a deal with his rival, and Orchard emerged from the room urging his delegates to support MacKay. Press officials immediately demanded to know what had inspired Orchard's surprise move. Orchard repeatedly referred to a "gentleman's agreement" made between himself and MacKay that had led to his qualified support.

MacKay won the final ballot with nearly 65% of the delegates supporting him. For the next few weeks, the specific details of the "Orchard deal" remained vague: a secret between MacKay, Orchard, and their advisors.[11] However, it was eventually revealed that the "Orchard deal" promised a review of the PC Party's policies on the North American Free Trade Agreement, no merger or joint candidates with the Canadian Alliance, and a promise to redouble efforts to rebuild the national status of the Progressive Conservative Party. The agreement also included re-examining the PC Party's policies on government subsidies for national railways and preserving the environment. The deal also requested that MacKay "clean up" the party's head office and specifically requested that the party's National Director be fired. Further evidence later revealed Scott Brison's cellphone number written in the margins of the note for some unexplained reason. In an attempt to heal internal rifts after the convention, MacKay edited out the number. After Brison defected to the Liberal party, however, MacKay revealed the original copy. The agreement prompted much outrage and controversy amongst United Alternative supporters and was ribaldly referred to by CA MP Jason Kenney as "a deal with the Devil".

At first, MacKay seemed to be willing to adhere to the deal. In June, several Clark-appointed personnel were let go from the party's main office and MacKay appointed new experienced staff whose loyalties were more closely linked to himself and former Prime Minister and PC Party leader Brian Mulroney. MacKay also appointed a couple of low level staff workers who had been supportive of David Orchard's leadership bid. In July, MacKay struck up a "Blue Ribbon PC Policy Review Panel", made up of conservative MPs, Senators, and Orchard himself, that was to be chaired by MP Bill Casey, in order to reexamine the party's policies on NAFTA. The Committee was scheduled to hold talks across the country and make a report to the leader by January 2004.

By mid-July, political opponents and fellow Tories began attacking MacKay over the "Orchard deal." MacKay's conservative rival Stephen Harper suggested that the PC Party had hit rock-bottom when its policies and directions would be beholden to a "prairie socialist." The secretive nature of the deal also led to concerns from within the party's headquarters and constituency associations. David Orchard was seen by many within the party as an "outsider" who was attempting to turn the Progressive Conservative Party into the "Prairie Co-operative Party". Some such as Rex Murphy, who is clearly noted below, felt that MacKay's credibility and leadership were undermined by the deal and that electoral expectations were low for the upcoming election that was expected to occur in less than a year's time. Rex Murphy noted in a Globe and Mail column that MacKay's leadership arrived "stillborn" and that, perhaps for the first time in recent memory, a party immediately emerged from a leadership convention grievously weakened and even less united than when it entered the convention.

Conservative party merger

Peter MacKay in 2007.

Public musings that the divided PCs would be marginalized in a future election between a relatively stable western-based CA under Stephen Harper and the massively popular Paul Martin Liberals (although Jean Chrétien remained the Liberal leader until November 2003, he had announced he would not run again), MacKay encouraged talks between high-profile members of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives.

On October 15, 2003, the merger talks culminated in MacKay and Alliance leader Stephen Harper signing an Agreement in Principle on the establishment of the Conservative Party of Canada, whereby the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance would merge to form a new Conservative Party of Canada. While MacKay was roundly criticized in some Red Tory circles for permitting a union under his watch, MacKay's efforts to sell the merger to the PC membership were successful: 90.4% of the party's elected delegates supported the deal in a vote on December 6, 2003.

Some PC caucus members refused to accept the merger: long-time MP and former Prime Minister Joe Clark continued to sit as a "Progressive Conservative" for the remainder of the Parliament, as did MPs John Herron and André Bachand, while Scott Brison left the new party to join the Liberal Party in December 2003. In January 2004, several Senators left the party to sit as independents or "Progressive Conservatives". MacKay announced on January 13, 2004, that he would not run for the leadership of the new Conservative Party. On March 22, he was named deputy leader of the new party by newly elected leader Stephen Harper. He was easily re-elected in the June 28, 2004 federal election in the newly redistributed riding of Central Nova.

On September 29, 2005, the Premier of Nova Scotia, John Hamm, announced his intention to resign. There was speculation that MacKay would return to the province to pursue provincial politics and enter the Progressive Conservative Association of Nova Scotia leadership race to become the Premier. MacKay would have been considered a front-runner in the race; however, he decided to remain with the Federal Conservatives. The Liberal government lost a motion of non-confidence on November 28, 2005. In the resulting January 2006 election, the Conservative Party was elected with a minority government. He did retain his seat by a comfortable margin against NDP candidate Alexis MacDonald.


Minister of Foreign Affairs

Peter MacKay arrives at Rideau Hall to be sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Following the Conservative victory in the 2006 election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper named MacKay as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency; he was also tasked to be the political minister for both his home province, and for neighbouring Prince Edward Island, just as his father Elmer had done between 1988 and 1993.

During the first mandate, his biggest issue was the

28th Ministry – Cabinet of Stephen Harper
Cabinet Posts (4)
Predecessor Office Successor
Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Foreign Affairs
Maxime Bernier
Joe McGuire Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Keith Ashfield
Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence
Rob Nicholson
Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice
  • Official website
  • Campaign site
  • Profile at Parliament of Canada
  • Peter MacKay – Parliament of Canada biography
  • Speeches, votes and activity at

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^
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  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ [2] Archived May 5, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^
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  15. ^
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  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Tempers flare on eve of report into missing and murdered aboriginal women – Politics – CBC News. (March 6, 2014). Retrieved on 2015-10-14.
  21. ^ Peter MacKay apologizes for throwing documents about murdered, missing Aboriginal women | Metro News. (March 12, 2014). Retrieved on 2015-10-14.
  22. ^ Elections Canada – Official voting results, Forty-first general election, 2011. Retrieved on October 14, 2015.
  23. ^ Elections Canada – Candidate's electoral campaign return, 41st general election. Retrieved on October 14, 2015.
  24. ^ CTV News, October 2, 2006, "MacKay was 'furious' at Stronach defection"
  25. ^ National Post. (November 26, 2005). "Belinda who? MacKay seen with new heiress"
  26. ^
  27. ^ Stronach demands MacKay apologize for alleged 'dog' comment. CBC News, October 21, 2006. Retrieved March 5, 2011
  28. ^ a b New York Times, September 13, 2006 "Dance of Diplomacy is Grist for the Gossip Mill"
  29. ^ Toronto Star, September 13, 2006 "This has been a lovely trip, Peter"
  30. ^
  31. ^ Happy ending for Defence Minister MacKay? The Toronto Star, November 3, 2009. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  32. ^ Globe and Mail (June 5, 2010). "Peter MacKay, fiancée split up"
  33. ^ Galloway, Gloria (January 4, 2012). Peter MacKay weds rights activist, former beauty queen. Globe and Mail. Retrieved on: May 24, 2015.
  34. ^ CTV News (April 1, 2013). "Defence Minister Peter MacKay announces birth of son Kian Alexander"
  35. ^


In his spare time, MacKay has served on many volunteer boards including New Leaf and Tearmann House. He has also been active in Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Pictou County Senior Rugby Club and the YMCA. A sports enthusiast, MacKay is active in local adult rugby, baseball, football and hockey teams in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. He played for the Nova Scotia Keltics rugby union club.

On January 4, 2012, MacKay married Nazanin Afshin-Jam, an Iranian-born former beauty queen, in a ceremony in Mexico. Afshin-Jam holds degrees in international relations and political science. She is co-founder and president of Stop Child Executions, a human rights group whose aim is to focus world attention on the plight of young people on death row in Iran.[33] The couple has one son, Kian Alexander MacKay, born April 1, 2013,[34] and one daughter, Valentia Makaja MacKay, born September 30, 2015. [35]

MacKay had been seen in public dating Jana Juginovic, director of programming at CTV News Channel, after having kept their relationship private for many months. They attended the annual Black & White Opera Soirée together at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on February 21, 2009.[30] MacKay's engagement to Juginovic was announced on November 1, 2009.[31] MacKay and Juginovic later called off the engagement in June 2010.[32]

By September 2006, MacKay's romantic life was again in the papers, with The New York Times reporting on gossip about his alleged involvement with United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.[28][29] The New York Times described him as "Tall, athletic, young, blond", and having "a tan and the build of someone who spends his time on the rugby field, not holed up reading G-8 communiqués."[28]

On October 19, 2006, during a debate on the Conservative Party's clean air plan, MP Mark Holland said that a Liberal colleague, David McGuinty asked MacKay about the impact of pollution on humans and animals by asking, "What about your dog?". He was poking fun at MacKay for being photographed on his father's farm with his pet dog, following his break-up with Belinda Stronach. MacKay then allegedly pointed to Stronach's vacant chair and replied "You already have her." Holland lodged a complaint with the Commons Speaker and demanded an apology from MacKay. Stronach has said that the comment was disrespectful to both herself and Canadian women, and has herself asked for an apology. MacKay has denied referring to Stronach as a "dog".[26] The alleged comment was not heard by Speaker of the House Peter Milliken and it was not recorded in the official Hansard. Afterwards, Milliken and his staff said that they could not hear the remarks on the tape recording.[27]

On November 26, 2005, the National Post revealed that Mackay and Sophie Desmarais of the billionaire Power Corporation family were dating.[25]

MacKay was chosen as 'Canada's Sexiest Male MP' by The Hill Times from 1999–2007 and 2009, coming in second in 2008 to Maxime Bernier. His former longtime girlfriend was Lisa Michelle Merrithew, daughter of former Mulroney cabinet minister Gerald Merrithew. They reportedly ended their relationship in 2004. He then was romantically linked to fellow MP Belinda Stronach in published reports. In an interview in the Toronto Star on January 8, 2005, Stronach confirmed that she and MacKay were dating. Stronach, elected as a Conservative in the 2004 election, crossed the floor to the Liberal Party on May 17, 2005. On May 18, 2005, MacKay told the CBC that his relationship with Stronach was indeed over, and that it had come as a surprise to him that she had crossed the floor. According to Don Martin, a National Post columnist who wrote a biography, Belinda: the Political and Private Life of Belinda Stronach in September 2006, MacKay reacted "with volcanic fury" when he learned about her defection.[24]

Personal life

Canadian federal election, 2004: Central Nova
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Peter MacKay 16,376 43.27 -8.13 $53,745.97
New Democratic Alexis MacDonald 10,470 27.66 +14.84 $25,231.91
Liberal Susan Green 9,986 26.39 -3.95 $44,229.04
Green Rebecca Mosher 1,015 2.68 $222.50
Total valid votes/Expense limit 37,847 100.0     $73,053
Total rejected, unmarked and declined ballots 198 0.52
Turnout 38,045 65.32 -0.92
Eligible voters 58,240
Conservative notional gain from Progressive Conservative Swing -11.48
Changes from 2000 are based on redistributed results. Conservative Party change is based on the combination of Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party totals.
Canadian federal election, 2006: Central Nova
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Peter MacKay 17,134 40.66 -2.61 $55,938.56
New Democratic Alexis MacDonald 13,861 32.89 +5.23 $28,582.28
Liberal Dan Walsh 10,349 24.56 -1.83 $43,064.69
Green David Orton 671 1.59 -1.09 $901.04
Marxist–Leninist Allan H. Bezanson 124 0.29 none listed
Total valid votes/Expense limit 42,139 100.0     $75,651
Total rejected, unmarked and declined ballots 147 0.35 -0.17
Turnout 42,286 69.17 +3.85
Eligible voters 61,137
Conservative hold Swing -3.92
Canadian federal election, 2008: Central Nova
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Peter MacKay 18,240 46.60 +5.94 $61,468.89
Green Elizabeth May 12,620 32.24 +30.65 $57,490.60
New Democratic Louise Lorifice 7,659 19.56 -13.33 $39,917.36
Christian Heritage Michael Harris MacKay 427 1.09 none listed
Canadian Action Paul Kemp 196 0.50 $87.79
Total valid votes/Expense limit 39,142 100.0     $80,462
Total rejected, unmarked and declined ballots 304 0.77 +0.42
Turnout 39,446 67.01 -2.16
Eligible voters 58,863
Conservative hold Swing -24.71
Canadian federal election, 2011: Central Nova
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Peter MacKay 21,593 56.79 +10.19 $66,993.75
New Democratic David Parker 9,412 24.75 +5.19 $22,391.41
Liberal John Hamilton 5,614 14.76 $38,162.02
Green Matthew Chisholm 1,406 3.70 -28.54 $3,941.29
Total valid votes/Expense limit 38,025 100.0     $83,138.94
Total rejected, unmarked and declined ballots 226 0.59 -0.18
Turnout 38,251 65.00 -2.01
Eligible voters 57,963
Conservative hold Swing +2.50

Election results

On March 5, 2014, MacKay generated controversy when, in response to opposition Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux, he tossed documents purporting to concern the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women onto the floor of the House of Commons.[20] The following week, he apologized to the Commons for his outburst.[21]

On July 15, 2013, the cabinet was shuffled, and Mackay became the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, replacing Rob Nicholson, who took over the defence portfolio.[19]

Minister of Justice

On June 5, 2012, it was revealed that a widely publicized 2010 news conference announcing Conservative plans to buy 65 F-35 Stealth Fighters had cost $47,000. Documents provided to parliament by Peter Mackay indicated that Lockheed Martin had delivered the F-35 mockup used in the photo-op for free, and that the cost was primarily for services to support the news conference and one hundred invited guests.[18]

In July 2010, MacKay was accused of inappropriately using public funds when he combined the use of a Canadian Cormorant military helicopter for both a search and rescue demonstration, and to transport the minister from a private fishing camp in Newfoundland to Gander Airport. The cost of this to taxpayers was approximately $16,000.[16] MacKay, then the Minister of National Defence, defended his use of the military helicopter stating, "Three days into the visit I participated in a search and rescue demonstration with 103 squadron 9 Wing Gander. I shortened my stay by a day to take part in that demonstration".[17]

In 2008, MacKay announced a broad exhaustive and very expensive program to upgrade the Canadian military's equipment, spending over $400 billion over 25 years. Unlike every previous spending announcement of its kind, no "white paper" or detailed breakdown of this number was available nor was any claimed to exist. This led to widespread speculation that an election was coming. Stephen Harper did in fact declare Parliament "dysfunctional" in August 2008 and called on Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean to dissolve parliament for the 2008 federal election. The opposition objected but did not offer to form another government.

MacKay with US Senator John McCain and Colombian Minister of National Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno at the Halifax International Security Forum 2012

On August 14, 2007, Stephen Harper shuffled MacKay from Foreign Affairs to Defence, replacing Gordon O'Connor. On November 6, 2007, while attending a meeting at Forward Operating Base Wilson, 20 kilometres west of Kandahar City, Mackay was unharmed as two rockets struck the base at about 11 a.m. local time. Mackay described the incident: "There was an explosion. It was a loud bang", said MacKay. "When it happened, we heard the explosion, we heard the whistle overhead, we were told to get down and we did."[14] The incident happened on the same day that a suicide bomber detonated an explosive in Baghlan in the northeastern part of the country killing at least 35 including several politicians. While Taliban insurgents were suspected of being behind the bombing, it was not believed to be related to the attack in Kandahar.[15]

Peter MacKay meeting with Condoleezza Rice, April 13, 2006.

Minister of National Defence


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