As cannabis deadline looms, 170 Ontario municipalities still have not decided on opting out of stores


As the Jan. 22 deadline to accept or decline cannabis shops looms, more than a third of the 414 municipalities in the province have yet to decide.

As of Friday afternoon, councils representing some 170 cities, towns, townships and regions across the province had not exercised their option to bar brick-and-mortar pot shops from their precincts.

And while some may simply choose to abstain from voting — tacitly accepting the stores under Queen’s Park rules — many still have their fingers in the air, industry experts say.

“A lot of municipalities have opted for the wait-and-see approach,” says Alanna Sokic, a cannabis specialist at the Toronto consulting firm Global Public Affairs.

“Cannabis was only legalized in October of last year,” Sokic notes. “There’s still a lot of unanswered questions and I think that’s what we’re certainly seeing.”

Nick Pateras, vice-president of strategy at the cannabis resource and information company Lift & Co., says some communities may be waiting for the communities directly around them to decide.

“There’s probably a bit of ‘you go first,’ ” Pateras says. “As well, I think generally that the market continues to evolve every single day … and (they’re) going to maybe leave it to the last minute so they can act with as much information at hand as possible.”

King Township Mayor Steve Pellegrini — who was vocal in his opposition to the shops in his municipality — says the pot-store procrastination is due to a number of factors.

“There are new councils and a lot of them are doing community outreach to get feedback,” says Pellegrini, whose 905 community was one of the first to decline the stores.

Pellegrini also says many councils may be waiting to see how many of their counterparts opt out, hoping for a bigger slice of the $40-million implementation fund the province is providing. That fund is to help municipalities who accept the stores deal with potential law enforcement, education and public health costs.

Meanwhile, 62 communities as of Friday had decided to refuse the stores’ entry, a number Sokic says is not surprising.

“A lot of municipalities have expressed concern about the lack of municipal control when it comes to cannabis retail locations,” she says. “And that creates a lot of uncertainty as they go about their bylaw and planning initiatives.”

While these municipalities will forgo their full share of the transition fund, they will be free to accept the stores at a later date.

“They’re very likely waiting to see how it plays out in other communities,” Sokic says.

Many of the municipalities saying no — like Mississauga, Markham, Richmond Hill, Pickering and Oakville — are located in the 905 regions surrounding Toronto. Indeed, this GTA region — which has been granted six of the 25 cannabis stores licences — has been the most reluctant in the province to accept the shops. Under provincial rules, regional governments can’t opt out.

(Toronto proper has five of the first stores, as does the eastern part of the province. Western Ontario will host seven stores, while there will be two in northern Ontario.)

In the GTA region Burlington, Oshawa, Ajax and Clarington have opted in while another four communities will hold votes on Jan. 21, Sokic says.

“If you look at the west region, all of the municipalities save for Windsor, which has yet to vote, have opted in,” Sokic says. Toronto, eastern Ontario and the North have largely bought in as well, she says.

The patchwork of 905 ins and outs will make it difficult for merchants and shoppers down the road, says Sokic. “It’s a minefield.”

Pateras says the spotty acceptance of stores in the 905 and other places could impede a strong retail-store market down the road.

“It will definitely result in a slower rollout than a lot of us were anticipating and hoping for,” he says.

“But hopefully the opt-out rate is low enough that even if your specific city or town doesn’t have a store, you can drive 20 minutes or 30 minutes to the next municipality over.”

Sokic says the opt-out decisions made by some 905 communities may have been due to more socially conservative values than other parts of the province. “I think it’s just waiting for them to acclimatize to this new Canadian reality,” she says.

Pateras speculates that many 905 communities have neither the general urban acceptance of cannabis, nor the financial incentives to host stores that exists in smaller rural towns.

“They kind of straddle the line between being an area like downtown Toronto, where cannabis is fairly pervasive … and a more rural area, which would be looking to collect the tax revenue and establish jobs,” Pateras says.

Pellegrini attributes the 905 reluctance in part to the desire of many of its sprawling municipalities to build vibrant downtown centres.

“We’re all trying to build attractive, livable downtown cores,” he says, adding cannabis stores might detract from these efforts. This “is just really not something that we are looking for, for our image of our unique, quaint community.”

But Pateras says the 905 patchwork resembles the store distribution patterns that have emerged in U.S. states that have legalized recreational cannabis use. “Over 60 per cent of Colorado’s counties, for example, still do not permit cannabis business at all,” he says. “In California, 70 per cent of counties and cities have opted out of licensing cannabis businesses … there’s generally a slow rollout.”

Pateras also says many municipalities that have opted out are leaving themselves open to continued black market sales.

“Obviously if you don’t have a legal place of access, you’re allowing for illegal sales to continue to occur.”

Joseph Hall is a Toronto-based reporter and feature writer. Reach him on email:


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Some Quebec universities, CEGEPs miss deadline for sexual violence policies – Montreal


In Quebec, several CEGEPs and two universities have failed to adopt a policy to prevent and fight sexual violence on campus by the Jan. 1 deadline set by the province.

The provincial government published a list of post-secondary institutions on Thursday that have complied with the measure, including Concordia University and John Abbott College.

Two Montreal universities and more than a dozen CEGEPs are notably absent from that list — including McGill University, the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Dawson College and Marianapolis College.

READ MORE: Quebec sexual assault bill focuses on campuses

Bill 151 was passed into law by the previous Liberal government in December 2017 following several high-profile sexual misconduct allegations in Quebec.

It requires all post-secondary institutions to adopt a policy to prevent sexual violence by Jan. 1, 2019 and implement it by September 2019. It has to be separate from the school’s other policies.

Under the law, they must also have formal complaint procedures, safety measures for social activities and support services in place.

Montreal universities working to catch up

Both McGill University and UQAM said on Friday their institutions are working toward adopting a new policy.

At McGill, the current rule, which was implemented in 2016, remains in place.

WATCH: Concordia and McGill react to Quebec’s new campus sexual assault bill

“Throughout the fall of 2018, it has been carefully reviewed through extensive consultation with our campus stakeholders to ensure that our revisions to the policy reflect both the requirements of Bill 151 and the needs and goals of the McGill community,” said associate provost Angela Campbell in a statement.

“These revisions to the policy will come to the senate and the Board of Governors for approval this semester. In the meantime, McGill’s current policy and the resources associated with it to prevent and fight sexual violence, remain active and in force.”

READ MORE: McGill professors back students, call for external investigation on misconduct allegations

UQAM spokesperson Jenny Desrochers said the French-language university’s new policy surrounding sexual violence will be adopted over the next few weeks.

“In the meantime, our policy against sexual harassment is still in effect,” she said.

‘Unacceptable’ says minister who put forth law

Quebec Liberal MNA and former minister for higher education Hélène David, who put forth Bill 151, expressed her disappointment about schools lagging behind the deadline.

On social media, she described the finding as “unacceptable.”

READ MORE: Quebec unanimously passes motion to prevent sexual assault against athletes

“The fight against sexual misconduct must be a priority,” she said.

David also called on Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge to intervene. She said he should put more effort into ensuring all universities and CEGEPs adopt the policy without delay.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Less than 20 per cent of long guns registered in Quebec ahead of Jan. 29 deadline – Montreal


Quebec’s attempt to establish a firearms registry is facing resistance, and with a January deadline looming, less than 20 per cent of the long guns believed to be in the province have been declared.

Pro-gun activist Guy Morin is calling on the public to “wait until the last minute” to comply with the law. The spokesman for Tous contre un registre québécois des armes à feu (All Against a Quebec Gun Registry) said in an interview Friday his hope is either the registry will be abolished or so few people will register that it “cannot be enforced.”

READ MORE: ‘We cannot forget’ — 14 women killed in École Polytechnique massacre honoured

The government has put the number of long guns — mostly shotguns and rifles — in Quebec at roughly 1.6 million. But since the registry opened last January, only 284,125 guns had been declared, Public Security Department spokeswoman Louise Quintin said.

Morin, whose group cancelled a plan in November 2017 to hold a rally at a memorial site for the 14 women killed at École Polytechnique, said Quebec’s law is an affront.

“We are Canadian gun owners, and this is insulting to us,” he said.

“Why do we have to register here when everywhere else in the country, you don’t have to?”

The federal Liberals introduced the Canada-wide long gun registry in 1995, saying it would cost roughly $110 million. The figure multiplied and ended up costing taxpayers many times that before the Conservatives abolished it in 2012.

Following pressure from gun-control groups, Quebec passed a law creating its own registry in 2016. The government has given gun owners until Jan. 29, 2019 to register their firearms or face penalties of up to $5,000.

Quebec initially said its registry would cost $17 million and another $5 million annually to maintain. Quintin said in an email that the budget for setting up the registry is now set at $20 million.

WATCH: Order of the White Rose Recipient

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault, told reporters this week the government is hoping it does not have to resort to fines.

“Yes, there are fines that can be applied for people who don’t fulfil their obligations,” she said.

“But you know, before the repression part, I prefer to focus on the prevention part,” she added, encouraging people to register their guns over the Christmas holidays.

READ MORE: Trudeau addresses gun violence on École Polytechnique anniversary

Canadian law classifies guns in three categories. Prohibited guns such as automatics and restricted guns such as handguns must be registered with the RCMP. Long guns — rifles and shotguns that are mainly used for hunting and sport shooting — no longer need to be registered in Canada, except in Quebec.

Canadians have been debating the value of the long gun registry for years. The Ontario Superior Court ruled in 2014 against a constitutional challenge to the Conservative law abolishing the registry, saying “there is no reliable evidence” the decision “actually has, or will, increase the incidence of violence or death by firearms.”

WATCH: 14 women killed in École Polytechnique massacre honoured

Morin said there was never a proper debate in Quebec about the registry because gun control has been a highly sensitive issue in the province since the 1989 École Polytechnique shootings.

“The anti-gun lobby is hiding behind those victims,” Morin said.

“There is no one at the political level who wants to displease these people.”

Heidi Rathjen, co-ordinator of PolySeSouvient, a gun-control group formed after the 1989 Polytechnique massacre, lobbied for the creation of the Quebec registry. She rejects arguments it is a waste of money, pointing to provincial police statistics showing 80 per cent of firearms seized during crimes over the past 20 years were long guns.

Rathjen said a registry is essential because guns cannot be controlled if the government doesn’t know how many there are and where they are.

“We’ve had the democratic debate,” she said.

“The bill was passed. This is now a question of whether or not the current government will yield to the pressure of a minority or will uphold the law.”


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Everton Brown says police beat him. Thanks to a ‘watershed’ ruling, his lawsuit can’t be tossed for missing a deadline


Everton Brown always intended to sue the Woodstock police officers he alleges beat and repeatedly shocked him during an arrest five years ago, but he took the advice of his criminal lawyer and waited until the charges against him played out in court.

The criminal case ended more than two years later with no convictions and all of the serious charges against him — obstructing and resisting police, and possession of crack cocaine and proceeds of crime — being withdrawn, provided he agree to a peace bond that involved him “keeping the peace” and staying out of Woodstock for a year.

In May 2016, sue, he did, launching a $1.75-million suit alleging he was assaulted, illegally arrested and detained and illegally searched. The 51-year-old London man did so more than two years after the alleged assault by police, placing it beyond the normal two-year limit for making such a claim.

For that reason, police argued his suit should be tossed.

But recent court decisions by the Ontario Court of Appeal — and the Supreme Court of Canada decisions not to revisit them — came down in Brown’s favour, as well as for another man facing a similar scenario, and also involving the Woodstock Police Service.

Essentially, the two-year limitations clock in cases like this now starts ticking when criminal charges are disposed of, rather than at the date of an arrest. The rulings reverse a standard that effectively prevented some victims of alleged police abuses from being able to seek compensation in civil court.

Before these rulings, potential complainants would have to proceed through the notoriously slow criminal court system in order to first see any evidence against them that might inform their decision to sue — while also defending against those charges.

In September, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear appeals by police in Brown’s case and that of Robert Winmill, affirming a 2017 Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Winmill’s case that “it makes sense” for people to focus on criminal charges and “deal with those before making a final decision about a civil action” against police.

The court of appeal in March found Brown’s case to be a “mirror-image” scenario to Winmill’s.

“It’s a watershed case,” says Toronto lawyer Osborne Brownwell, who is representing Brown in the civil case. “In my view, it sort of levels the playing field. The court took the view that it would be unfair for him to have to sue the police while he’s being prosecuted, and that’s why this case, from my perspective, is a significant achievement.”

Barry Swadron, who represented many clients suing police during his legal career, agrees. Civil suits against the police are extremely expensive, he says, and an accused person who endures police misconduct “may well be reluctant to commence a lawsuit against the police while he is in jeopardy of being convicted, and consequently likely to lose that lawsuit. Allowing more time to sue in these instances is a welcome development.”

The lawsuits can take years to play out, often costing plaintiffs tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, win or lose.

Kent Roach, a University of Toronto law professor and legal scholar, says delaying the start of the clock is “probably appropriate because it’s a lot to expect an accused to fight this kind of two-fronted war — civil and criminal — at the same time, and many causes of actions will really depend upon whether the police have been able to make out their charges.”

Brian McCall, the lawyer representing Woodstock police, would not comment on the specifics of the case because it is before the courts, but said in an email to the Star that overturning the standard that the limitation period begins to run at the date of arrest exposes officers to “civil claims which may otherwise not have proceeded.”

None of Brown’s allegations have been proven in court. In a statement of defence, Woodstock police deny Brown’s allegations of assault and illegal arrest and detention. They say police had information Brown was a suspected drug dealer, that the force used to arrest him was necessary, and that police used the Taser to control him while he resisted arrest.

On recent November afternoon, Brown sat in a boardroom at Brownwell’s North York law offices to talk about his precedent-setting case, and the impact it has had on his life.

Brown came to Canada from Jamaica in the late 80s and early 90s as a seasonal migrant farm worker picking tobacco and apples. He found love and Canada become home.

On Feb. 15, 2013, he drove from London to a multi-unit house in Woodstock, where he said a friend’s husband had offered to help him install a car stereo.

According to his statement of claim, Brown was in his car outside the address, when he suffered “shooting pain” followed by an anxiety attack stemming from a car accident two years earlier.

He told the Star he stayed inside the car in order to deal with the attack, using breathing techniques he learned from a psychologist.

That’s when, according to his suit, he was “accosted by a number of individuals, whom he believed were thugs trying to rob him” — men he later discovered were four plainclothes police officers. One officer, he alleges, drew his gun and pointed it at him.

Brown alleges in the statement of claim that he was struck repeatedly by fists and “forcibly dragged” out of the car, causing injuries to his head, face and throat, “thrown on the snowy ground,” and, while face down, “tasered at least four times.”

“If it wasn’t for God himself, I wouldn’t be living today,” Brown told the Star. “It felt like my heart was going to cut off. I couldn’t breathe.”

Brown alleges in his suit that, in addition to the other injuries, his jaw was locked and he asked to be taken to hospital but that didn’t immediately happen. Instead, he was handcuffed, booked at the station and held overnight before being taken to hospital the next day. He also alleges police deliberately broke a walking stick he needed to get around.

Police, in their statement of defence, do not make any references to a request to go to the hospital, and say “no more force than was reasonably necessary” to make the arrest. They allege Brown refused to get out of the car and “put something in his mouth.” After officers pulled him from the vehicle, police allege Brown “spit the object in his mouth into the snowbank,” which was later determined to be crack cocaine wrapped in plastic.

Police also allege the address Brown was visiting was a “location where drug dealing occurred” and that Brown was “associated with known drug dealers” and that “his negligence” caused any damages he sustained.

Brown says in his suit that he “was not at all involved” in drug dealing. He told the Star “there was no spit out. There was no drugs.”

Brown’s suit states that he learned at his trial that police had been watching the address and had a “suspicion” that Brown was selling drugs to a “certain person.” He also points out in his suit that the house is divided into four apartments. He was there to visit tenants who lived upstairs, and the “person being targeted by the police apparently lived” downstairs, he states in his suit.

Police had been wiretapping their target, Brown states in his suit, and there was “no evidence whatsoever that he had been involved in criminal activity.”

After five days of evidence at his trial, including Charter applications, the Crown, according to court records, approached Brown’s lawyer with an “offer” to end the criminal case against him with the peace bond and withdrawal of charges.

In his suit, Brown alleges the peace bond was “thrust upon him.”

Brown told the Star he would like to see the officers involved disciplined.

He said he now has problems remembering things and needs help to keep his house and yard in order. When he sees police driving behind him, “I feel intimidated. It brings me back there. To that day, when they pulled me out of the car.”

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Jim Rankin is a reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @Jleerankin


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William Nylander signs 6-year extension with Maple Leafs at deadline


William Nylander’s contract impasse has finally come to an end.

The restricted free agent signed a six-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, just before the 5 p.m. ET deadline. The Leafs announced that the extension will pay Nylander an average of $6.9 million US per year from the second to sixth years and $10.2 million this season.

The agreement brings an end to nearly five months of negotiations between first-year general manager Kyle Dubas and Nylander’s representatives, agent Lewis Gross and his father Michael, who played for seven NHL teams and was traded five times in his career.

« I need to look out for myself and make the decisions me and my agent believe are the correct ones, » Nylander told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in early October. « I need to think long-term. It’s my future we’re talking about here. »

Forward Mike Peca was the most recent player to sit out an entire season due to a contract dispute, missing the 2000-01 campaign with the Buffalo Sabres at age 26.

As the Nylander signing deadline approached, it’s believed the Maple Leafs were willing to let it pass rather than meet the player’s reported demand of a long-term deal with an annual average value in the $8 million range.

Dubas, whose offer was said to be around $6 million, seemed to have the leverage in talks, given the team’s impressive 18-8-0 record this season and the emergence of 22-year-old winger Kasperi Kapanen, the former fourth-liner who replaced Nylander on the right side on a line with Auston Matthews earlier this season.

Nylander’s arrival after sitting out 26 games may or may not mean the end of Kapanen’s time skating alongside Matthews, who returned to the lineup on Wednesday after sitting over a month with an injured left shoulder. Kapanen and Nylander have been best friends and roommates since joining the Toronto Marlies, the Leafs’ American Hockey League affiliate, during the 2015-16 season.

Several players step up

« Everyone wants Willie to be here, » Kapanen told reporters in October. « He’s a big part of the team. He brings a lot of energy and a lot of offence to our team. »

In recent weeks, Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock has watched as others have stepped up to fill the scoring void – namely Nazem Kadri, Patrick Marleau and Andreas Johansson – after John Tavares, Morgan Rielly, Mitch Marner and Matthews handled the bulk of scoring early on.

Dubas stated weeks ago he wasn’t worried about getting Nylander signed and insisted he wasn’t shopping the talented Swede to any of the league’s other 30 teams. However, he did have assistant GMs Brandon Pridham and Laurence Gilman in tow during the team’s recent road trip through Raleigh, N.C., where the Hurricanes had been linked to Nylander trade rumours.

Nylander is coming off back-to-back 61-point seasons. In 185 NHL regular-season games, he was scored 48 goals and 135 points. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Kadri, who has scored 32 goals in each of the last two seasons, had to wait until the eve of training camp in September 2013 before signing his two-year, $5.8-million bridge deal on the heels of an 18-goal, 44-point performance in the lockout-shortened campaign.

« It’s a little bit stressful, » Kadri, who inked a six-year, $27-million extension in April 2016, told Sportsnet in September. « It’s not the easiest thing to go through. [Nylander] is a great player, he’s a great teammate and we love to have him around. »

Hometown discount?

Nylander has 48 goals and 135 points in 185 NHL regular-season games. During the stalemate, his on-ice contributions were often compared to Winnipeg’s Nik Ehlers ($6 million AAV) and fellow forward David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins ($6.7 million).

Ehlers scored 60 points in his age-21 season and signed for seven years and $42 million while Pastrnak, who played with Nylander as teenagers in Sweden, recorded 80 points at 21.

In early October, Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said the team’s young players should consider accepting less money to provide the best chance for the franchise to win its first Stanley Cup since 1967.

Matthews and Marner are pending RFAs but Dubas has made it clear they, along with Nylander, would spend the prime years of their NHL career in Toronto, no matter the term of their contracts.

Many expect Matthews to command a salary similar to Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million AAV while Marner, the Leafs’ top point-getter this season with 36 in 26 games, may ask for something in the range of Jack Eichel’s $10 million AAV as the Sabres standout has 32 points in 27 contests.


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Freeland postpones UN speech today amid NAFTA talks and looming deadline


Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s speech to the UN General Assembly in New York City today will now take place Monday due to NAFTA talks, and officials say there is a strong possibility someone else might have to deliver the remarks on Canada’s behalf.

Freeland, who is in the throes of a last-stage effort to secure a North American free trade deal, traded her time slot on the UN rostrum, according to officials in the minister’s office. 

Officials told CBC News that the postponement of her speech was due to the trade negotiations, which sources say intensified this week in the face of Monday’s U.S. congressional deadline. 

Freeland’s remarks to the UN would be part of Canada’s pitch for a place at the top table in the organization. Two Security Council seats are up for grabs, in a three-way race between Canada, Ireland and Norway. 

But while Canada vies for a seat, there’s increasing trade pressure.

Mexico’s secretary of the economy said a trilateral deal could be possible this weekend.

Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been pushing for a new trilateral trade deal between Mexico, Canada and the U.S. (Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

As of Saturday morning, the minister was still in Canada. Sources with direct knowledge of the talks told CBC News that David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., had flown to Ottawa to be part of the concentrated Canadian effort. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also directly involved in the effort, sources say, and talks are continuing late on Saturday.

The disputes over dairy and Chapter 19 provisions remain unresolved, sources say. That chapter allows companies that feel their products have been unfairly hit by anti-dumping or countervailing duties to request arbitration. 

The text of the existing U.S.-Mexico deal is expected to be published by Sunday, and there have been fears that Congress would be willing to press ahead with the bilateral agreement if Canada can’t get a deal done.

Mexico agrees to intervene, then walks back

Mexico’s new president-elect, however, said in an interview Friday that he has agreed to push the American side to make a deal with Canada.

President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked him during a Thursday phone call « to intervene and call on the U.S. government to reach an agreement » with Canada on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

« We agreed to that, » Lopez Obrador told reporters in Mexico City. The president-elect also said he would insist on a trilateral pact.

However, later Friday evening, Lopez Obrador’s Senate leader, Ricardo Monreal, said Mexico wouldn’t walk away from a bilateral agreement. 

Trudeau has been directly involved with this weekend’s trade talks, a government source said. (Amr Alfiky/Reuters)

« The ideal is a trilateral deal, but we’re prepared for the possible need of a bilateral, » he told Bloomberg News.

According to a readout of the call from the Prime Minister’s Office, the two men « agreed to work closely together to further strengthen the dynamic partnership between Canada and Mexico, » and « discussed NAFTA and the mutually beneficial economic and trading relationship between our two countries. »

But Lopez Obrador, who takes office on Dec. 1, said the NAFTA language between Washington and Mexico City was now final.

Sources familiar with the talks say Freeland took part in a lengthy conference call Friday night with negotiators and their U.S. counterparts in Washington.

No face-to-face meetings were scheduled this week, as the UN General Assembly met in New York City. Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had no meetings at the UN, but many high-level conversations happened over the course of the week.

With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters


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