Brian Jean during his statement about the UCP leadership review voting process yesterday – judging from his bookshelf, he shares Jason Kenney’s obsession with Winston Churchill (Photo: Screenshot of Facebook video).

Alberta’s United Conservative Party hasn’t even held the vote yet in its review of Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership and his chief rival is threatening legal action.

Yesterday the party board, dominated by Mr. Kenney’s supporters, changed the rules for the April 9 leadership review vote to make it easier for the premier to win. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Soon after, an obviously agitated Brian Jean, MLA-elect and Mr. Kenney’s self-declared rival for the leadership of the UCP, read a prepared statement on Facebook in which he called the party board’s decision to change the voting procedure for the review from an in-person vote at the UCP’s annual general meeting in Red Deer to a mail-in ballot unethical, illegal, and “a travesty.” He threatened legal action. 

“We will be in discussions with our lawyers over what legal options party members may have to use either the party’s dispute process or the courts to make the UCP follow the law and its own rules,” vowed Mr. Jean, who as the UCP’s candidate won the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election on March 15. He has not yet been sworn in.

The former Wildrose Party leader promised more about his campaign’s legal plans today. 

“Make no mistake, a rushed mail-in ballot is a formula for fraud and cheating,” Mr. Jean said in the video statement, during which at times he was almost shouting. 

He accused Premier Kenney’s campaign of purchasing memberships for thousands of people in Calgary and Edmonton, many of whom may not even know they are members. 

And he accused the party board of tossing rules to benefit Mr. Kenney. “The party rules don’t matter. The Societies Act which governs our party doesn’t matter. And the rights of UCP members to have a process that is fair and honest does not matter.”

“We will be calling on Elections Alberta to investigate this flagrant violation” of provisions of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act passed by the NDP government in 2017, he added.

Naturally, a Kenney spokesperson rejected such concerns and aimed a few accusations of his own back at Mr. Jean. 

Opposition Leader and former Alberta premier Rachel Notley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

What’s striking about this is how Mr. Kenney’s propensity for cheating is now so entrenched in the popular imagination of Alberta that nearly everyone assumes the vote will be shady, just as it is widely believed it was in 2017, the last time Mr. Kenney beat Mr. Jean in a contest to determine who would lead the UCP.

Indeed, more evidence of Mr. Kenney’s 2017 conduct emerged yesterday in a CBC story about the premier’s personal role in the “Kamikaze Candidate” scandal. According to people who said they were at a planning session attended by Mr. Kenney, the CBC reported, the UCP leader himself set key conditions of the scheme. 

What does it say about a person, a party, an electorate, and a province where the dishonesty of the leader is taken for granted by a large percentage of the people in his own party and yet many have no plan to change their votes as a result?

To me, it suggests an organization in which many members have already given up on democracy, and even more have lost the expectation of honest results from any election.

As cynical, entitled and arrogant as the old Progressive Conservative Party could be before its unexpected defeat by Rachel Notley’s NDP in 2015, it never gave up its pro forma obeisance to democracy.

But then, I suppose, it never really had to. It was mostly able to simply assume it would win, until suddenly it no longer could – a fact the PCs didn’t notice until too late.

Well, no one can accuse Mr. Kenney of that kind of inattention! 

While the UCP won the 2019 general election honestly enough – riding to victory on a wave of popular desire for change no matter what kind of shenanigans led to the selection if its leader – it is obvious that a troublingly large number of Albertans think cheating is OK, even virtuous, as long as it produces the result they desire.

Which brings us back to the scheme to tilt voting at Mr. Kenney’s leadership review in his favour. 

That yesterday’s party announcement is unfair should be obvious to all, not just Mr. Jean’s supporters.

That it would happen anyway was assumed by virtually everyone who was paying attention. 

That it shocked virtually no one is, well, shocking.

This is important. Mr. Jean’s supporters were outraged. They were already furious about Mr. Kenney’s cheating in 2017, which remains the subject of an RCMP investigation that has gone on so long it’s starting to raise doubts about the administration of justice in Alberta. But they were not surprised. 

Like everyone else, they knew what was about to happen. 

So how is this different from some other quasi-democratic, quasi-authoritarian petrostate where the leader is widely assumed to be crooked but nobody really cares?

Surely this does not bode well for the future of democracy here in the land of “non-conflict ethical oil.”

Will we enter the next election campaign in Alberta next year – or perhaps sooner – with the same assumptions in place, with the same percentage of the population that doesn’t give a fig that one of the contenders to form government has no respect for the rules?

It seems likely. Very likely.

Join the Conversation


  1. Well what could possibly go wrong? Really?? Hm, thousands unbeknownst to them Albertans voting for Premier U Cheat Primarily. Yes, sounds about right to me. I have often remarked on the strange similarities between Maurice Duplesis Quebec and Alberta ongoing, and well here it is again. Will Alberta ever have a quiet revolution, or will the young and the well educated continue to leave for better places, as has been so recently reported? What a travesty.

    1. Wow, this report seems very heavily sanitized to avoid upsetting certain Albertans. Young adults tend to see things more in black and white than older ones do, and to use more incendiary language. If this report includes phrases like “intolerance,” “lack of diversity,” and “lack of inclusion,” it seems unlikely to me that none of those young people used the word “racist.” Seems likely that their language has been heavily sanitized to avoid holding a mirror up to some incredibly fragile people who won’t like what they’ll see if they ever get around to looking into one.

      Also, young people will be alive as climate change becomes more and more real. To me, it is beyond unlikely that a bunch of these young people leaving Alberta didn’t say something like, “I don’t want to contribute to a glorified petro-state that is consuming my future so that a few oil tycoons can be even richer.” Not one word about the environment from young people choosing to leave Alberta? I am skeptical.

      Maybe they rephrased that to say youth “negatively associated the province with conservatism” – for the conservative adults out there, I would respectfully invite you to consider that conservatism is something that is evaluated as “bad” by a lot of young people. Maybe you’re losing the room. Maybe there’s a future coming where every single remaining Conservative gets all their info from Fox “News” because people willing to deal with facts will have moved to other parties. JMO, no disrespect intended.

      To give some context, I’ve noticed that, in the eyes of a significant amount of younger folks, “not doing anything to oppose racism” is seen as “being racist,” and some of them seem to feel a responsibility to point that out and confront it. I would quibble with them a little – the decision to withhold help from a person is not the same as the decision to inflict harm on them – but I do see where they are coming from.

      If you’re older and are upset with these young people… maybe think back to when you were their age. Were you doing things your grandparents’ generation approved of? What kind of nasty things did they say about you? Did they try to discredit you and dismiss your concerns when you raised them? Did they try to keep you out of the way so that they could run the world? How did you feel about that?

    2. Are UCP members born stupid or do they develop the conspiracy psychosis from the party. Mail in voting, oh, scary, the political boogeyman will ruin your future. Brian, you lost once only due to your political faithful throwing you under the bus on the promise of being in power in Alberta, such loyalty. Now you bring out your tin foil Trump hat and Kenny’s already stole the next election from you. UPC members, when you pull the pin on the hand gernade, throw it, otherwise you just create another debacle in the tire fire that is the UCP experiment. Every 2-3 weeks you do your Coyote impression from the Bugs Bunny show and self destruct. Thanks for the entertainment. Jean’s already erased / blown up his credibility.

      1. Frank: while,I am in no way a UCP supporter, let alone member, I do see some validity in their concern about the new voting method. In my view, it’s not the mail-in ballot per se, but the changing of the rules midstream that rankles. Had this been the voting method decided at the outset, I’m sure both sides of the issues would have adjusted their plans accordingly.

  2. Judging by the report from CBC that Kenney was not only deeply engaged in the kamikaze against Brian Jean, but those who participated in all the shenanigans are also now talking and admitting to their involvement. If it’s a question of what did Kenney know and when did he know it, it’s apparent that not only was he on the orchestration end of the whole plot, he was even playing Daddy Warbucks regarding its financing.

    While the RCMP investigation continues, citing delays because the whole matter is so complex to untangle, it’s apparent that Kenney rigged the UCP leadership and assured its financing.

    As to the current situation, if Kenney survives the review, the consensus will be that he rigged that one as well. Given the situation, Kenney will call an election and, as he’ll put it, let Alberta decide.

    He will then go into Daddy Warbucks on speed and dole out fantastic sums for everything. Albertans receiving $500 a month and calling it the “Kenney Dividend”? It can happen and probably will.

  3. Dave – I’ve been unable to find a way to review the membership list for the Alberta YouSeePee. Do you know of any way for a member of the public to find out if someone has registered an individual against their consent or knowledge?

    1. Chompy: I’m unaware of any cases, but how would anyone know? The UCP’s legislation allowing this behaviour is so bizarre for a jurisdiction said to operate under the rule of law that it is almost impossible to respond. It appears to be specifically and explicitly intended to permit cheating and – ha-ha! – there’s nothing anyone can do about it. It seems likely it is happening. And it seems likely the people whose identities have been stolen for this purpose will never know about it. We could all be voting for Mr. Kenney and many of us likely are. The legislation allows it. DJC

      1. Thanks Chompy and Dave, I was wondering the same thing. Maybe someone needs to hack their web site?

        If I am in fact on their membership list I wonder if I will get the income tax receipt?

      2. Perhaps I should phone in and ask to buy a membership. Surely I wouldn’t be allowed to buy two memberships. I don’t even want one of them, but since my personal health data was breached, I owe it to “myself” to find out. I never know what “myself” is doing.

  4. Well, the last minute rule changes while everyone is watching are something. Before, it was just much of his party that didn’t trust Kenney, now it will be most of the rest of Alberta.

    I suppose Kenney has pretty much given up trying to appear fair or scrupulous, he is a bit desperate now after all. Our own tricky Premier seems to have a few tricks left. Perhaps he feels that being so overt now will somehow even help him get away with it.

    I suppose some will pretend disbelief or look away, but I believe a number of people both in the UCP and elsewhere will not accept this total lack of fundamental ethics or principles. He seems determined to even possibly destroy his own party to save himself.

    Whether Kenney’s latest tricks will be enough for him to claim victory in his leadership review remains to be seen, but the mask has now definitely slipped and he has been seen for who he is by too many. I think that will ultimately contribute to his undoing

  5. That is so much to take in at one go, I cannot even imagine how the situation can be straightened out. If citizens don’t care about corrupt political parties and are willing to prop up what amounts to likely criminality in the election process, hope is pretty much lost for anyone with a brain. The ramifications are huge.

    Perhaps it’s the Con widening/extension of the harper clash with the SCC over unconstitutional legislation, mirrored by kenney’s similar BS in Alberta. Corrections by the courts are always late, after reaction to the illegality is absorbed by those who disagree and sue. The system of justice is always a “day late and a dollar short”. Reactive, in other words. So demagogues can get away with passing unconstitutional laws and laugh away at the distress it causes until the “system” catches up. Which in reality, it never does. That’s how democracy gets sold down the drain, and apparently, if DJC is correct, then your average Albertan citizen just accepts the distortion as the way things are these days. Anyone who’s no “gentleman” can subvert unwritten expected behaviour by exploiting the situation — they simply regard morals, ethics and honour as the province of fools.

  6. This is what I had said about the legitimacy of the UCP coming to power in Alberta, in 2019. It likely wasn’t done in an ethical fashion, and was not likely done legally. I already gave my reasons for this in one of your previous blogs. The UCP is deteriorating from the inside. Preston Manning’s latest political experiment isn’t likely to last. It still goes to show you that these pretend Conservatives and Reformers cannot be trusted.

  7. Indeed, that is the question: what do you call it?
    Even when a large majority “… of Albertans think cheating is OK, even virtuous, as long as it produces the result they desire.”. Well, whatever you call it, it is not democracy.
    The one word not in this piece but that accurately describes this state of affairs is corruption. Alberta is a corrupt state and has been at least since the beginning of Klein’s reign. Just because the corruption is so much more obvious and wide-spread does not mean it is something new.
    More egregious, yes. More odious, certainly. That is the nature of corruption specifically and illegalities in general; the practitioners will, indeed, must, push the edge of acceptability ever farther as more and more people begin to play under the new regime.

    This is the very definition of the slippery slope. It’s taken Putin a couple of decades to get to the point of boasting about his nuclear trigger to get what he wants. How long are we going to tolerate these SOB conservatives? Are we just going to allow these low-life, immoral conservatives to destroy everything that is good in this province?

    1. The other day, I was having some nostalgic feelings toward Klein, Steve West, and rest of the long-past motley crew of the corrupt governing party of the day. Kenney and the UCP make those guys look good, if such a thing were possible.

      Let’s not forget that a substantial portion of the UCP membership is upset with Bumbles because he tried to enact the barest minimum in the way health measures he could get away with to control the spread of Covid.

      In general, the UCP membership is not upset with Bumbles because of his ethical lapses, his cheating and dishonesty among other character defects. They are only upset about these lapses and defects of character when they might stand in way of another liar replacing him.

      It is a sad and disturbing state of affairs.

    2. Jason Kenney is nothing like Vladimir Putin this ridiculous comparison should
      stop. For one, Putin is a lot more popular within Russia than Kenney is within Alberta.

      You are correct in saying that what we are dealing with is bigger than simple corruption, I would argue again that we are slow walking into fascism.

  8. DJC, you pose the rhetorical question: “how is this different from some other quasi-democratic, quasi-authoritarian petrostate where the leader is widely assumed to be crooked but nobody really cares?” Although the question contains its own answer, it is worth answering: it is no different.

    This belies a very disturbing trend and shows a province that is, like some other jurisdictions, drifting slowly to a pro-authoritarian and anti-democratic space — a trend that is encouraged by propaganda, disinformation, lack of government transparency, social media algorithmic bias, and blatant partisanship.

    This is why it is important to get Bumbles and the UCP as far away from government as possible. They generate a lot of this disinformation and have too much influence as the government. It has a corrosive effect on our democracy.

    A possibly related piece of information. A poll by The Toronto Star found that the unvaccinated (who I see largely as victims of disinformation) were many more times as likely to believe that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was justified.

    Behind a paywall, unfortunately.

    1. No surprise at all with this claim.

      Just a few days ago, a performer, Aaron Lewis, from the stage at a live performance, declared that Putin is defending everyone against the Deep State and the WEF. During Lewis’ long rant, Putin was described as being honorable and just in his actions against the evil Biden Administration. Moreover, the war in Ukraine is a “fake” — there is no fighting, no military action, and no deaths. It’s an MSM fake show and no one should fall for it.

      Lewis is not alone in his belief. There are more than a few alt-right bloggers who see the war — whether it exists or not — as some kind of false flag perpetrated by Biden and the UN to bring about the conclusion of the New World Order. Putin is a hero and he’s fighting for everyone. Russia is the last block against Illuminati tyranny. And then go on and on about how the Israelis are involved, yada yada yada…

  9. Mr. Kenney’s shenanigans hark back to memories of shady Chicago mayor Richard Daley. Along with President Richard Nixon and Vice-President Spiro Agnew the trio were flying across the Atlantic when the plane went down. Bobbing in the water they spotted a life raft with room for only one. As citizens of a democracy they decided to hold a vote. After the ballots were counted, Nixon got one, Agnew got one, Daley got nine.

  10. What it proves is Kenney is smarter that lawyer Jean and has a lot more crooked tricks up his sleeve. As the former MLAs from the Lougheed era taught me. Reformers will do anything or say anything to get elected. They can’t campaign on what they have accomplished there is nothing that hasn’t destroyed what we accomplished for the benefit of all Albertans. There is no question they were right.

    Too bad so many stupid Albertans are still believing every lie they feed them. Sadly my senior friends and I find they are mostly easy to fool seniors.

  11. It’s sure a good thing we don’t have any dictator (oil and gas) here. It’s wonderful that our oil and gas is “ethical”. It would be strange to have a dictator unethically murdering citizens in Ukraine whilst cutting off “dictator” resources to Europe, with another dictator on this side of the globe prepping to do what, exactly, with Alberta’s “ethical” oil and gas? I’m sure glad that I live in a democracy, where unethical, dictator-y things never happen. Can’t wait for the provincial election in 2023!

  12. RE:Kenney’s campaign illegally purchasing memberships… Well, yeah. After getting caught red-handed, a few politically insignificant people had to pay fines they could easily afford. The RCMP have established that they are okay knowing that we know they will allow this to happen, Elections Alberta has been publicly used as a partisan mouthpiece by the Kenney government, and Kenney fired the official investigating his campaign – who’s gonna stop him? Mr. Kenney has been allowed to do this in the past, why would he not expect to get away with it in the future?

    RE:The widespread assumption that Mr. Kenney’s team will cheat… Why isn’t society angrier at the RCMP over this? Am I being naïve by assuming that they should be enforcing the law without fear or favour? What, exactly, do they have to show for the three years they claim they’ve spent investigating this? Can we please have a public inquiry? Have they even attempted to do anything about this, or are they participating in a cover up by pretending to run a sham investigation? Why is the CBC doing a better job ferreting out the truth than the RCMP? That should not be happening!

    I don’t believe the province of Alberta can run a legit election. When it comes to elections, the appearance of illegitimacy is a real problem. I believe Albertans will collectively respond to electoral shenanigans with a grunt and shrug and something along the lines of ‘only losers whine about the refs.’ If we allow Kenney to cheat without consequence in two consecutive leadership elections, how can we trust him not to cheat in a general election? Who would do something if he did? Not the RCMP, that’s pretty obvious!

    Finally, can we please amend the law so that it will be illegal in the future to run sham candidates and for different campaigns to collude? Never mind, silly me, what is the point in having laws the police refuse to enforce?

  13. People are angry about kenny just doing what he wants this is no longer a democracy I barely recognize alberta , I used to love alberta. Brian jean give us back our old alberta where we dont have to pay a fortune just to go to our mountains and save our water from being poisoned from coal mining , we need a leader that cares about the people not just oil

  14. And from what I hear on the streets is that there are more than a few monied types who would rather have a crooked and thieving Kenney at the helm than a trustworthy Brian Jean. But this is the problem with Jean: he doesn’t appear to be comfortable with shenanigans, lying, and subterfuge. This was the genesis of his endless annoyance of Derek Alexander Gerhard Fildebrandt, who took a great deal of pleasure in being above any and all rules. (Or has all well-heeled frat boys are inclined to believe, rules are only for those who are stupid enough to follow them.) Jean does come across as too much of a Boy Scout most of the time, so it’s believed he doesn’t have the killer’s instinct in him.

    So, while the leadership review will be stalled forever because of Kenney’s organized mayhem, it’s clear that we’re headed into a faithful early election, where Kenney will be vindicated because Albertans are the stupidest people alive.

  15. If cheating in Alberta is accepted, then the fact that revelations about Kenney’s involvement in the Kamikaze candidacy (during his 2017 party-leadership campaign) have been made public just before his April 9 leadership review is to be expected. I mean, the timing looks timed and the coincidence looks more than merely coincidental.

    But it’s hard to tell if this particular gotcha!-revelation was perpetrated by people who only want K-Boy, not the UCP, out of office, or if by people who want both gone. The latter group of malcontents might just as well hope Kenney survives the review because they see him as the UCP’s biggest liability. But, really, I’m not sure if Brian Jean—or anyone else (aside from K-Boy)— became leader that the party and its government wouldn’t be as discredited and disadvantaged going into the next election as it is now. With its back is against the wall—or should we say, flat on the floor—there’s only one way but up, and whoever its next leader is will be sorely tempted tho resort to some shade of shady to stay in power.

    The latest Kamikaze revelation could have been arranged by the Jean team to parry with what everyone expected Kenney’s K Knights to do but, if so, one wonders why Jean didn’t spill the beans before Kenney moved the goalposts instead of after. Anyhow, nobody could charge the K-Boys of shenanigans in the approaching review—as much as they’ve been expected—until they were actually committed. In any case, Jean’s threats of legal action now rather appear reactive and he something of a peeved sour-graper.

    And it appears somebody has been anticipating Jean’s moves—in fact he wouldn’t even be a sitting MLA of any party had Kenney not approved his nomination, so we really needn’t guess who. It rather looks like K-Boy’s setting Jean up as a foil, he cast as a threat to UCP unity which can only result in an NDP victory—call it an ‘end-of-the-world’ scenario against which K-Boy is cast as the only one who can prevail. Courtesy of Mr Jean—and we might expect him to protest more obstreperously as K-Boy’s K Knights stickhandle all around him—Kenney’s case for remaining leader is easily articulated as unity versus division —with the evil socialists drooling like a Checkered Demon as it tucks a bib under its chin and clatters it’s knife and fork with rapier anticipation.

    Everything points to an early election call soon after K-Boy survives the review—and with the new goalposts, it’s expected he will and probably most of the converted are okay with that in terms of keeping the socialist hordes out of power.

    But in terms of good government, the UCP has already lost some of its 2019 support, presumably to the NDP which, after citizens have test-driven Kenney’s monster for a single term, is looking less like the bogeyman the UCP is forced to characterize it: Kenney will plead that he’ll do better, post-Covid, but the question remains whether he means better than his UCP has done (which is easy) or better than the NDP did in its own single term (which is not so easy).

    An early election will drown out Kenny’s detractors in his own party but bring his detractors in the Alberta electorate to the fore. His plea on April 9: ‘please don’t force the party to fight a two-front battle going into the next election’—and Jean’s bleating will only help him make a convincing case.

  16. No doubt Kenney will position this as his valiant attempt to protect the Party from the far right lunatic fringe. After all, he is the savior of ‘true blue’ conservative values. Where have I heard that one before?

    The UCP Party, in my view has been morally bankrupt for the start of their first leadership race.

    Rachael Notley and team do not have to say or do anything. They only have to buy some popcorn, relax, and watch the show. The UCP are doing the job for them.

    Reminds me of the federal Conservative Party in many ways.

  17. ‘ it is obvious that a troublingly large number of Albertans think cheating is OK, even virtuous, as long as it produces the result they desire.’

    What you said in this sentence is what bothers me the most. It seems Albertans are in general very comfortable with this behaviour because I guess it serves their purposes as well. No wonder young people are leaving this province. I feel the same way.
    This is a big problem for the future of Albertans that seems satisfied to let go of the rule of law and decency in order to allow people to cheat and make as much money as they can possibly get their hands on. In other words to evolve into a third world banana republic.
    Good luck

  18. The sad soap opera histrionics and the feeble attempts to retain power at any cost should be disappointing illustrating an undignified personal character, yet they are apparently expected from the type and quality of ‘leader’ that forever seems to be attracted to public life (“like a bug to a bright light”, see below) in this deteriorating Province; where, an impartial observer with the time and interest to spare could compare and contrast the following illustrations of the “paranoid style”:

    “. . . they were all disloyal, I tried to run the ship properly by the book but they fought me at every turn. . . . Ah, but the strawberries! That’s where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with geometric logic. . .”

    “Preston Manning used to say that a bright light attracts a few bugs, well, there’s more than a few bugs attracted to us, this party, right now.” “The lunatics are trying to take over the asylum. And I’m not going to let them.”

    Further acknowledging that the messiah complex is an apparently dominating characteristic in this case and one that provides a subset of Albertans exactly what they desire, in the form of a warped fulfillment of at least some of their collective beliefs and expectations.

  19. So while Jason Kenney calls the MLAs who are refusing to support him lunatics for daring to point out how easy Kenney has made it to run another crooked election the big question continues why did these stupid conservatives allow these damn Reformers to get control of their conservative parties? We certainly didn’t see any infighting during the Lougheed era, they weren’t that stupid. It’s time to get rid of all these phoney conservatives.

    Wouldn’t you like to know how many of us own a UCP membership without us knowing it, I would?

  20. Guess it was going to be too pricey for the Kenney camp to bus enough people to Red Deer, put them up in a hotel, and feed them for a couple days. It is an indication that his backers will only spend so much to keep him in power, likely was told to fix this after realizing the bill would many times more than Calgary was. Would have loved to be a fly on the wall during that discussion.

  21. Do the Alberta UCP really want a leader who said “I don’t want to know the details , work it out with my team?”

    Sounds like a mafia boss to me.

  22. Have Albertans become so lazy or small minded that they only pay attention to left wing media reports? What about doing the research and following both sides of the conversation and then making up your minds on balance? I don’t know (and neither do you) if Kenny’s integrity has been compromised or not, but I’m looking at the fruit coming out of the UCP leadership of Alberta over the past few years and it looks like we’re doing way better now than under the NDP. Judge them by their fruit. The UCP is a team – not just one person. If not Kenny … can you guarantee better results under another leader? They all say what they think you want to hear … until they get in. At least this lot have some positive results as proof of the pudding.

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