By Trevor Koot

It seems today that there are many social topics that have evolved beyond being taboo but remain in the realm of sensitive. I recently had the privilege of working through one such topic with my team. Collectively, they are some of the best folks a person could have the opportunity to work with and navigate all situations with professionalism, sensitivity and their own (calculated) candor.



As you may or may not know, the Canadian Real Estate Association recently announced it is creating the field “Primary Bedroom” on Realtor.ca. This would allow MLS systems across the country to feed their “master bedroom” data field to this display name on the public portal if they so choose. My understanding is that CREA’s motivation for this was based on public and member inquiry.

I think the rationale is evident but, to clarify, the term “master” (as a noun) can be, and is, defined in the following ways:

  1. A man who has people working for him, especially servants or slaves.
  2. A man in charge of an organization or group.

Source: Oxford Languages (italics are mine)

At one of the two real estate associations I support as executive officer, there had been requests historically to consider making a change to this terminology, but it carried little value if the display term to the public remained unchanged. Needless to say, when CREA made their announcement, we thought it a perfect time to bring it to our membership.

The response was very mixed.

I know that when the feedback “seems ridiculous” is provided by a member, they are not delivering it with ill will. Rather, they see the term master as non-threatening and simply meaning what they intend it to mean, the primary bedroom. What may be lacking from this consideration is that there are others, across this great country, whose experiences may lead them to see this term very differently, perhaps even as threatening.

A few mornings a week all the staff from both associations I work with get together for a virtual coffee and visit. This started as a COVID initiative but has continued. It was at a recent morning coffee that the group spent an hour discussing the terminology change, the polling of our membership and the responses we received. Three questions surfaced for me that I continue to contemplate:

  1. Do we as staff simply act based on the response from the membership? That is to say, we asked for their feedback, if they (majority of responses) agree with the change, we change it; if not, we don’t.
  2. Do we provide further information and context, or would that appear as though we are attempting to achieve a particular outcome?
  3. What is our role when it comes to lobbying for social change? Is it incumbent on staff to lead this narrative?

“If we hadn’t asked, nobody would have even noticed,” was one comment during our morning meeting. But that’s not the point, is it? If perceptions are going to change and if equal treatment will ever be achieved, then the narrative must change. I am happy to lead that conversation.

On this one, though we will not unilaterally make a change, we will continue to provide more information to the members so that they completely understand the impact of the seemingly insignificant change to one word or, even more importantly, the impact of not changing it.

40 COMMENTS

  1. We’re in a Pandamic and you’re worried about Master
    and Primary ? Please Stop It Left or Right doesn’t mean
    a thing in a description of A Room

  2. Can I still say “master key” . Was the term master bedroom originally derived from the slavery era? Where the master goes to sleep? I always thought it as the “largest bedroom in the home” . Largest closet, maybe a bathroom etc. Never in 30 years had I looked at it any other way.

  3. Having spent many of my younger years on the overly assertive side, I have learned over the years to be more considerate of others and I do try to see all sides of an issue. I try to avoid offensive language because I know the ability of words to hurt more than any weapon. Wounds heal but verbal wounds can fester forever. Our societies are becoming more and more complex and it is nice to see everyone engaged in the opportunities of this world.
    The political correctness issue however, has in my opinion, (unlike some of us who know the facts) gone far overboard. Free speech by its very definition implies that someone somewhere will be offended; this in and of itself does not make any particular utterance “offensive”.
    To be offensive enough to warrant limitations, our right to free speech must be significantly and pressingly offensive to be overriden by someone’s feelings. Free speech is the cornerstone of democracy and we chip away at it at our peril. No democracy in this world before 21st century Canada has dared chip away at free speech like our current government and other left-leaning groups have.
    Simply because someone takes issue with a word does not make them judge and jury. Unfortunately, in our age of moral relativism (sigh, we have so many sophisms masquerading as fact to deal with these days) our virtue signaling organizations kowtow to the loudest whiner in an attempt to appear sincerely concerned when they are simply sidestepping the real issue. In the process, they toss another baby of free speech out with the bathwater.
    I note that “public and member” comments always drive these changes, yet the publicly available comments are invariably (as they are here) completely opposite to the “comments” that drove the original change. Where are these “comments?” What unbiased scientific study was undertaken to determine the validity of the data set?
    Clearly the fix was in and the issue was decided without the bother of real input.

    Respectfully Trevor, I take exception to your comment about what is and isn’t the point. I do not believe you have been granted license to determine what is or is not the point at hand. To put an end to all dissent with a peremptory wave of your hand is disappointing indeed.

    Do I have a problem with changing the word master to primary? No I don’t, I could give a darn, but I am reminded of the words of a politician from some years ago. I don’t recall the exact words (or the author) but he said something very profound; “If you try to take all a man’s freedom away from him he will fight you to the death, but if you slowly chip it away piece by piece, he will hand the whole thing to you. Somewhere along the way, the last piece has been taken from me. The buck is stopping here for more and more of us.

    • Excellent rebuttal, Gerald. Freedom of expression is indeed under siege by the left-wing Marxist-leaning mob. Many such folks have been so deeply indoctrinated by our education system (by none other than former “A” students granted degrees etc. by Marxist university professors, who in turn were trained by Marxist professors, all going back to the 1960’s). The fix is in.

      I first became aware of the academic/intellectual Lefties whom naive students fawned over when I quit work at age 35 and entered Trent University. I had decided to earn a degree (which I had foregone pursuing at age seventeen to start an apprenticeship to become a licensed Steamfitter) and thence become a somebody…intellectually speaking. What a joke! I ended up forcefully debating some of the looniest professors right in front of the startled youngster students, all of my ammunition acquired of course from my eighteen years out in the work force, aka the real world, as opposed to the bubble-world the academics lived in, having never ever gotten out of school. They ate, drank, slept, screwed and traveled with their own, almost exclusively. I was a real pain in the ass to many of them as I stood up to their indoctrination strategies. One time a group of profs sponsored some communist rebels from Central America to meet with willing, naive students in order to recruit them into their fold. I sat in on the session. It was glaringly obvious how in-the-trenches the profs were with the commies. The students were enthralled. Imagine! Real live communist rebels in their classroom! The kids ate the bullshit up like a Hoover Deluxe sucking dried mouse shit off the floor. Then I got into it. The students looked at me like I had two heads. The profs scoffed at my audacity; challenging these heroes from Nicaragua was a no-no. One student, only one, came up to me after it was all over and told me he was thinking of joining the cause, as were almost all the others. He asked me what I thought. I told him what I thought, based upon my life experience until then…working in a capitalist system that rewarded hard work, risk-taking, investment, striving to get ahead, and constantly educating myself about how the world works…and about human nature…which has never changed over hundreds of thousands of years. We departed. I saw him the next day after undergoing another indoctrination lecture by a politics prof. He informed me that he had changed his mind. He said his father had echoed precisely what I had told him. (His father was a business man) He said he felt he had dodged a bullet, that he felt for the first time in his life he was beginning to understand what life was all about, that indeed, as I had told him, there were those in power who sought to control our thoughts, our speech, our behaviour, our very lives…for the sole purpose of wielding power in order to get ‘their’ way in all manner of things important to them. I told him the education system was an insidious tool often in the hands of the wrong people…the wrong people looking not to educate, not to teach how to think critically, but to indoctrinate, to teach ‘what’ to think…when and under what circumstances. The education system nowadays is rife with left-wingers who believe their way is the only way, that their beliefs are the only beliefs worthy of consideration, that their virtues are the only virtues, and that their egalitarian outlook, whereby all should have equally, trumps the opposing egalitarian outlook that believes all should have equality of opportunity, and let the chips fall where they may thereafter. That is how humanity has struggled and survived and thrived from time immemorial. That is why as a species we are so successful. Nothing has been guaranteed…until now in history when politicians bribe us with out own hard-earned money by way of tax-and-spend policies as our money is spread around for votes by those we elect who promise more and more for votes…until the money runs out, and the polity goes bankrupt. This is what our kids are faced with these days. This is what adults who have been indoctrinated are faced with these days. Cradle-to-grave socialism sounds good to ignorant minds, but once adopted it is one bastard of a system to get rid of at the ballot box. There become simply too many on the take. Ambition takes a nose-dive, and the hand becomes accustomed to being held out for benefits. Human nature becomes frustrated as the survival instinct wanes, as ambition atrophies on the vine, and as hope for getting ahead of the crowd now securely ensconced at the bottom of the equal economic barrel fades, leaving the population depressed, searching for answers the leaders don’t care to offer up. Why would they? They’re OK Jack.

      Anyway, I liked your thoughtful and well reasoned rebuttal against the cancel culture sheep. May they be shorn and fleeced against there will at forty-below, mid winter, in order to supply others with their booty. Take from those who have and redistribute to those who want…for votes of course, because there will always be far more takers than makers. That’s where the votes that count are stashed. Then wait to hear the expletives emanating from ‘their’ formerly politically correct pie holes as they scream blue-bloody murder for justice. But it will be too late. There will be none left who know what it was like in the good old days….when men were men and women were women, when free thought and speech was a means of establishing individualism, when being offended was a choice, or not, and when the word “Freedom” actually meant something other than receiving free hand-outs unearned. We are meant to earn our way; it gives us dignity. When all dignity has been washed away, the revolution will be complete. Freedom of speech, of thought and behaviour will be a thing of the past. Want to know what that will be like? Just take a good hard look at China, the country and its leaders so many intellectuals and academics admire. Idiots.

      I’m glad I’m not young.

      I wrote this from the hip sans editing, I was so pissed off. Hope there aren’t too many errors. I need a beer.

      • Thank you Brian, a very interesting experience you must have had at Trent U. No doubt you are aware of a Canadian who fast became an international celebrity when he stood up to the leftists who fabricated a complaint in their attempt to do him in, Jordan Peterson. He echoes the same comments about the left-wing takeover of our universities and he seems a very reasonable and caring (and highly intelligent) person. Now we are straying from the conversation so I will only make one more comment. I try in any situation to understand how and why it came about, and I think there is a lesson for us all in this. The question I ask myself is, why are so many young folks turning to the left? Undobutedly, the left’s inexorable takeover of the education system is a big part of it, but I think capitalism is also partly to blame. I think a weakness of both capitalism and communism is that they eventually marginalize those that don’t function well in their systems. Communists do it drastically by purposeful mass destruction but capitalism does it slowly as those that live, eat and breath business eventually end up with all the toys (not just by outworking everyone but also by outbuying the politicians), and everyone else just gets by. The slow destruction of the middle class is a good indicator of the process, and the book The Plutocrats by Chrystia Freeland is a good read on the subject.
        I look at the struggles our young adults face and I can’t really blame them for their disillusionment with capitalism. Hopefully we can turn this ship around because I sure enjoy being a capitalist but I do have empathy for all.

        • Hi Gerald:

          Yes, I know about Jordan Petersen. I have seen him interviewed numerous times on various TV stations. It seems the intellectuals of the psychological left don’t like others of their genre who combine common sense with their theories and experimental findings. If Jordan is guilty of anything, it’s being a down-to-earth observer of human nature as it exists and has always existed, and thence giving advice that actually works if heeded.

          I think so many young folks are being swept up with the leftist propaganda because of the left-wing media’s fawning over same. There are few conservative and/or critical thinking media outlets/reporters left any more due to almost all journalists coming out of left-wing journalism schools/universities. The deck is stacked against good old fashioned common sense. Utopian ideals based upon impossible-to-attain perfectionism rules the minds of the young for whom real life experience beyond the classroom has not yet found a firm grip on their naive lives. The teachers and professors are quite another thing altogether.

          When I entered university in the fall of 1983 as a so-called mature student at age 35, I had the benefit of eighteen years experience out in the real world. I had already attained a new home and a waterfront cottage, fully paid for! I was the outlier in my classes. Neither the students nor the profs had real world experience. Until then I had not realized how much power professors had over their captive students. (The high school teachers had had no such power over me during my brief tenure under their tutelage) The profs were regarded as gods by the students…all except this one. I had quite a time of it, earning a degree in politics nevertheless. I am now considering mailing the document back to Trent with a note enclosed suggesting it be put on a toilet roll in one of the restrooms, or should that be bathroom, or latrine, or washroom, or master crap house?

          Being a functioning participant within a capitalist economic system has worked well for me. I have taken financial risks. Most have paid off. I can’t conceive of working for the government in lock step with everyone else for a guaranteed income that provides one with just enough to subsist minimally above the poverty line. All democracies drift toward that end game the easier life becomes for the population. Easy come; easy go. Few learn from history, it seems, especially if the history being taught is twisted with convenient gaps therein to suit a political purpose. That’s where we are now.

          Continue to enjoy being a capitalist. Don’t concern yourself too much with the youngsters’ of today; they have little empathy for you .

  4. The definition of Master you gave is when it is used as a noun. When the word Master is used as an adjective it means Principal or Primary which is the context that it is used in real estate.

    The word has many other definitions such as being proficient or skilled in a particular task.

    Just more pandering by the lefies to make themselves feel good.

  5. This is what happens when you let “political correctness and woke culture” run unchecked, it’s not long before the the inmates begin to run the asylum. With all the of pressing issues out there (local, provincial and nation wide) we’re focusing on the how the word “master bedroom” might offend some “snowflakes” feelings, really?? it’s seems to me that the problem is theirs not ours. I agree with some of the other sentiments, enough of this malarkey, until the “silent majority” starts speaking out against this lunacy it will only get worse.

  6. This is a very good discussion – thank you for the initiative. I bit my tongue a couple of times in recent weeks, then used the term “primary” bedroom instead of “master” during my showings…. and nobody noticed. It took me maybe one week to adjust to it. No harm was done and no skin of my back. Let’s all be better, kinder and more aware. Next !

    • Hi Nina:

      Yes, “primary” bedroom is absolutely A-OK, just so long as it’s not foisted on everyone subject to a penalty by some meddling we-know-what’s best-for-you-peons word cops.

      Question: Precisely ‘why’ did you change your description? Were you feeling shamed, or made to feel guilty by the word cops? Why do you think you had to take a week to ‘adjust’ to it? Did you think you were saying something wrong? The fact that you think no one noticed, one way or the other, suggests they did not care which description you used. It further suggests it did not even cross their radar.

      It is the intent of a word, and one’s tone of voice that one uses concomitantly that matters. People instinctively know when intent is negative. I’m sure you held no negative intent when describing the largest, or larger, bedrooms as the ‘master’ bedrooms, and I’m sure you realized no offense being taken by your clients…ever. So why did you feel compelled to change?

      Your answer might reveal an ages-old truth about human nature, peer pressure and the herd instinct.

  7. Language evolves. You can argue all you want about semantics and definitions. Or criticize others from your holier than though high horse. Or comment a lot to sell your books.
    Reality is that language matters. And if we can make small changes that are more inclusive, or possibly less hurtful then why not?
    I am one of the people who brought this to mu Boards attention some time back.
    I don’t care if it is an adjective.
    I care if it affects my clients and friends.

  8. Not to mention a change to the descriptions “His and Hers closets”, “Jack and Jill ensuite”, and “Inlaw Suite” would be required to ensure that you don’t offend same sex couples, or those with non-binary gender identity, or those who are single not by choice and have no inlaws. Furthermore a “butler pantry” inplies privilege and servitude…so ..well you know. Perhaps we should focus on messages of malicious intent and ensure our actions reflect inclusiveness since actions speak much loader than words.

    • Karen:

      First of all, it’s “His and Her closets”. I’ve heard of “His closet”, but not of “Her’s closet”.

      “Jack and Jill”? Take a pill. “Jill and Jack”? Take it back.

      “inlaw Suite”? Better than “Outlaw Suite”. How about “Common Law suite” or “Uncommonlaw Suite”?

      Why in hell are some selected types so very easily perturbed about possibly offending someone else? Oh wait! I know! Could it be because the potential offendees might not want to buy/sell from/with them? That makes perfect sense when one is in character, as in “commissioned mercenary salesperson”, masquerading as a thoughtful, commiserating one-size-fits-all former priest/clergyman (Oops! I mean priestess/clergywoman) faux social worker turned chain-smoking, alcoholic, cursing, bad-ass whore-master/masterette ‘after hours’ when the sun don’t shine and the shtick wears thin.

      The only time I view someone as being sincere when carefully choosing one’s words is when said someone holds a genuine high regard for the ears of the recipient…dollars factored out. For said sincere speaker, no word-legislation is required, because said speaker is a self-governor of words spoken, said words carefully thought out beforehand because that is just the kind of thoughtful person he/she is…biologically speaking of course.

      I’m waiting for the he-she confused gender police to strike next. To be clear: I feel for genuinely gender-confused people due to miswiring of parts of their brain circuitry. Thus I would never make fun of them or say anything to or about them that might make them feel badly about themselves. To do so would make me feel badly about myself, and that, my friends, is a selfish motive. We are all driven by selfish motives. That is what makes us human. The trick is to pre self govern our behaviour and speech…without the onerous block of thought suppression hanging around our necks thanks to busy-body Utopian know-it-all graduates of Marxist university professors’ fiats-for-A’s.

      Get a life people, and get on with it. Thick skin trumps thin skin every time.

  9. Yes, this is Ridiculous! More pandering to the vocal minority! Come on CREA, surrly you can find far more inportant matters to attend to for your members!

  10. The term master bedroom has long been a problem as infers male dominance. Many women buy without their “master . I have joked about this term with many clients but in reality it isn’t funny . Good job to change it.!

    • Hi Katherine:

      I think I understand where you’re coming from, even though I’m a male. My question to you is this: For whom, other than you, has the term been a long term problem? As another poster said, the subject description is not stated as the “master’s” bedroom. Yes, many women buy without their “master”—if that is how they view their partners, especially if they are male—but do they balk at using their Master Cards? If you joked about this term with your clients, then you insinuated that it ‘is’ funny. That would constitute a misrepresentation of your true motives, that is, to impress some master clients with your false attitude in order to sell them something. That would make you a master manipulator, or a master mercenary chameleon, aka master lying politician. But I’m betting you don’t see yourself that way…and I bet I’m right.

      You have every right to change up anything you want in your own mind and small sphere of personal influence, but to try to legislate every little annoyance? Can you spell “censorship”, as in censorship by the thought and word police? It’s spelled “t-y-r-a-n-n-y”. Ever heard of the “Tyranny of the Minority? That’s what democracy is supposed to offset. So let’s have a vote…of ‘all’ members of ORE, and not of just elected/appointed area representatives. Better yet, let’s have a vote right here on REM…right now.

      • Correction: Second paragraph; second line: “…but to try to legislate every little annoyance?” should read “…but to try to legislate against every little annoyance?”

        My inbred word cop got to me. A master get-it-right-the-first-time artist I’m not. Jim the-editor-guy knows all about that:-)

      • Agreed! It just doesn’t stop! So sick of this “tyranny of the Minority” . Been in the real estate industry since 1971 and never heard once that the “Master” bedroom had anything to do with male or female! Here we go – more of this BS – I wonder what “Master” Card will be now? Primary Card?

    • I don’t know how long you have been in real estate but I have been in the industry since 1971 and never have been in a discussion such as this.

    • The term Master Bedroom (adj) means Principal Bedroom when used as such. It has nothing to do with male dominance…..Katherine Landry preston.

  11. It’s really a shame that the author and editor chose to use the definition of a noun to support a change for the use of an adjective. Simply having the same spelling does not give it the same meaning.

    For the change to make sense we would have to be changing “Master’s Bedroom” to “Primary Bedroom”.

    I can understand toning down painted words but at some point removing the paint won’t remove the pain and remastering the English language will no longer be enough to prevent people from having unwanted feelings, and then what will we do?

    Personally, I would rather see the money being spent on adding “Offer Date” as a searchable field to the listings so we could filter out listings that are underpriced.

  12. My floor plan’s gal brought this to my attention, she’s putting ‘primary’ instead of ‘master’ on the plans. However, there is no ‘primary’ option on TREB, so we have to use ‘master’, how will this work if Realtor.ca is changing it, but the boards haven’t?

  13. It is really quite simple. Don’t get defensive or protective…Be an ally. Origin of the word doesn’t even matter. Noun….adjective….doesn’t matter. What can the word be perceived as today? Just be an ally in any way that you can. Enough is enough.

  14. That was floated around 25 years ago and now all of a sudden it is defined as some great social advancement by Realtor’s? A bit behind the times. Defining a bedroom as Primary is fine. But what about the other bedrooms? Have they no consideration? Are they less then the “Primary” ? How would an occupant feel in only a “Bedroom” Maybe we should just publish room sizes and let the Buyer decide how they want to use each room. I mean “Family Room” must be on the radar as there has to be a few consumer’s that have a problem with that name. And what about a 2 piece bath room? It is not really a room for bathing and powder room does not come close to representing its actual use. While we are on the subject of room descriptions it may be time to replace “stunning kitchens” and ” breath taking views” when in many situations I have experienced that is far from the truth.
    High End Finishes is another one. Each product should come with a rating from the manufacturers to accurately represent the level of that product or finish. Such as a ” Level 2 hardwood floor”. Well you get the idea.

  15. Now this world has gotten ridiculous with cancel change everything, we r living in a woke left wing society and as a realtor never thought of this, you can change almost everything if u really think about it

  16. In this case the word “master” is used as an adjective.

    The Collins Canadian Thesaurus describes the word “master” as an adjective, thus:

    “main, chief, prime,principal, foremost, predominant, leading”

    That’s what the main, chief, prime, principal, foremost, predominant, leading, bedroom is, is it not?

    What’s wrong with that?

    The politically correct crowd is getting to me these days, like a bunch of primary school hall monitors, temporary masters of the hallways, seemingly always on the lookout for someone saying something offensive. But who is actually offended, other than those easily offended, or looking to ‘be’ offended?

    I think we need to master the English language and speak it in a masterful manner, allowing we non Ph D
    types (for whom speaking our minds is not viewed as a mine field and thus do not mean any offense by our choices of words) some leeway. Let’s master our responses to less-than-masterful speakers and thereby master our emotions, lest we become poor fishers of bottom-feeding Carp. For that we need not be master-baiters. (The wording of that last sentence is code for the language busy-bodies) In other words…Go —- yourselves…if you’re angling for perfection toward showing off your command of the language for the benefit of the language police…Thesaurusly speaking.

    Over and out. Beam me up Master.

    BTW: In my book “Riley Youngblood and the Passport to Santalamanchia” (available as an ebook on the Amazon/Kindle ebook site), farmer Macintosh calls Riley “Master Riley” as Riley departs the farm aboard Chomper. Does that make Mike an ignorant, prejudicial old fool, or Riley the master of all Rileys? No. It is meant as a term of respect and admiration. So says the author…the master of his own universe.

    (Thanks for masterfully affording me another opportunity to shamelessly plug my book, though.)

    Just think of all the fun you’re missing by not reading it.

    • Masterfully said. I too am getting tired of political correctness, woke demands, and cancel culture. Now we are refusing to accept the historical originals of our language. Where will it end? That’s easy….. it won’t.

      • Totally agree – have had enough of this BS – and you are right it will never end as long as we have “these people” pandering to the minority.

    • When young men (boys) are not old enough to be addressed yet as “Mister” typically they are formally addressed as “Master.” As in Master Patrick at boys’ schools and if invited to a wedding for example with parents the invitation would have a slip in the envelope saying that Master Jonathan is invited to attend with parents (if he is under the age of majority). Please rsvp how many in your party will attend.

      Of course hardly anyone is formal anymore and young Master Charles likely has never been introduced to the concept or addressed as such. Sometimes it’s just fun to look back at another time and another place when the master and his (property – until 1973 in Canada) wife dressed for dinner, if not daily (often done), certainly on Sunday when the master of the family donned his suit, white shirt and tie.

      Certainly when the Italian immigrants arrived, especially on Sundays they were seen in their fine-fabric suits and highly polished beautiful leather shoes. Even the old original Canadian farmers, masters that they were dressed in their best.

      Good luck with your movie/book, Brian, speaking of another time and another place. I’ve not read the Harry Potter books and don’t follow the doings of the author but there’s no denying success. Maybe you will give the author a run for her money!

      Cordially
      Carolyne L 🍁

  17. Has anyone thought about the term/definition “master key?” Where a tenant landlord or even condo owners and tenants in a building or townhouse complex must provide a key to the landlord or condo Mgmt, commonly referred to as “master key” … confirming that the occupant as owner or tenant is in a subservient position… knowing someone has a master key to their dwelling even so not meant to be used indiscriminately, and although there are rules… for emergency use.

    I once had a condo owner client in a high end brand name builder condo who decided to buy a freehold house because one day he came home from work to find the condo building concierge asleep on the livingroom sofa.

    Carolyne L 🍁

    • That’s not a “master key”. A “master key’ or a “primary key” for those who are easily offended, is a single key that will open multiple locks of the same make. A condo building with hundreds of units will not have a key for each unit, they will use a master key to open the door in case of an emergency. More Marxist thinking.

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