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Why some of Canada’s richest millennials want to pay more taxes

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Many people wish for lower tax bills and more money in their bank accounts. But a group of young, rich Canadians want the federal government to tax them more.

About 200 wealthy people aged 18 to 40 belong to Resource Movement, an activist group that is expanding across Canada. Their mission is to reduce inequality between Canada’s wealthiest people and the rest of the population.

Its members are advocating for the creation of two new taxes that would have a direct impact on their own bank accounts and those of their parents: a “wealth tax” on the richest 10 per cent of Canadians, and an inheritance tax on the top 10 per cent of estates.

“A wealth tax will have no impact on my life. So, why not?” Montrealer Claire Trottier said in an interview with Radio-Canada. “No one’s going to cry for me if I have to give part of my inheritance.”

The group says it has redistributed more than $450,000 to social justice groups and, more recently, grassroots COVID-19 aid measures through its fundraising efforts since it was founded in 2015.

‘Tax my inheritance. Tax my fortune’

Trottier, a 40-year-old microbiology and immunology professor at McGill University in Montreal, grew up rich.

Her father, Lorne Trottier, co-founded Matrox, a high-tech company, and was ranked 38th wealthiest Canadian in the late ’90s when she was attending a private high school.

“I knew I was very, very lucky,” she said.

 

Resource Movement members hold signs asking the government to tax them more. They are pushing for less inequality in Canada. (Submitted by Resource Movement)

 

“I never had to worry. If I had trouble making rent, for example. I always had a safety cushion to rely on. It helped me make life choices that are difficult for other people.”

In 2000, her family created the Trottier Family Foundation, a charitable foundation that gives out grants every year. In 2018 alone, it donated close to $10 million to environment, health and education projects.

But Trottier said philanthropy is not enough.

“Our family made a conscious choice to give part of its wealth to society. There are many families like ours who do not make this choice,” Trottier said.

“A wealth tax is a way to make sure everyone does their fair share.”

Leading up to what would have been the March federal budget earlier this year — which was cancelled because of the pandemic — Resource Movement prepared a campaign taking aim at Canada’s tax system.

In a video produced for the group’s website and social media channels, members ask the government to “tax my fortune” and “tax my inheritance.”

A federal report found the top 10 per cent of Canada’s richest families have about 56.7 per cent of Canada’s wealth — more than $6.6 trillion, according to the report, which was published in June by the office of Canada’s parliamentary budget officer.

In contrast, the bottom 40 per cent are estimated to have 1.1 per cent of the wealth, about $132 billion.

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Resource Movement’s members say a wealth tax alone would bring in $9 billion annually and could help finance affordable housing, a national drug benefit program and access to dental care.

“As people who come from wealth, we know there’s a ton of wealth in this country that is just not being accessed by the state right now, but we need it and we can use it more productively,” said member Daniel Hoyer, a 38-year-old college instructor based in Toronto. His father was a chef and restaurant owner; his mother was an accountant.

He believes a wealth tax is the way to recover the money that currently eludes public coffers by taxing all assets.

How to balance the scales

But one expert said rebalancing the scales is easier said than done. Patrick Leblond, a professor with the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, is doubtful.

“‘We’ll tax the rich’ sounds good, but is it the most effective way of getting more money in government’s coffers?” he said.

“Government would have to hire people to try to measure all this, to run all over the world because, of course, the richer people are, the more they’re able to hide their assets.”

 

Chrystia Freeland delivered a TED talk in 2013 on the rise of the new ‘global super-rich.’ A statement from her office said ‘there is still more to do to ensure every Canadian has a fair chance at success.’ (Ted Talks via Flikr)

 

He suggested other measures could be more easily put in place, such as treating all personal revenue the same way — starting with capital gains.

Right now, if a person sells shares or properties, for instance, only half the profit, called a capital gain, is taxable. People’s wages, on the other hand, are almost all taxable.

Leblond said taxing capital gains less than salaries is “a fiscal advantage for the rich.”

While some experts don’t agree on the measures needed, others in power recognize there is a problem.

The new federal finance minister appears to be one of them.

In 2012, right before going into politics, Chrystia Freeland published Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, a book on the inequalities between the very rich and the rest of the population.

 

Patrick Leblond, a professor with the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, suggested treating all personal revenue the same way might be a more effective way of taxing the rich. (Simon Lasalle/Radio Canada)

 

But she would not comment on the proposed taxes on the wealth and the inheritance of the richest Canadians.

Finance minister previously denounced inequality

In an email, her office noted the Trudeau government had introduced higher personal income taxes for the wealthiest Canadians, lowered those of the middle class and put the Canada Child Benefit in place. But her office recognized that “there is still more to do to ensure every Canadian has a fair chance at success.”

Trottier said the next speech from the throne, scheduled for Sept. 23, is the opportunity for the Trudeau government to do more.

The pandemic has laid bare who’s most deserving in Canada — the front-line workers whose salaries are often on the low end of the scale, she said.

“I think the inequalities in our society became obvious to a lot more people during the pandemic,” she said. “And we realized who are the people doing the essential work. We have lists now. It’s very clear who is doing the essential work.”

Source: – CBC.ca

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Monday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Ontario, which trails only Quebec in the number of recorded coronavirus cases and deaths in Canada, reported 851 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, down from Sunday’s tally of more than 1,000 new cases. 

Most of the new cases were reported in Toronto, York and Peel regions and Ottawa. 

The province reported 1,042 confirmed new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, a record number for a single day.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist and researcher at Toronto General Hospital, said over the weekend that while the cause of the recent spike in Ontario is not entirely clear, the week ahead will offer a critical window for assessing the province’s progress in combating the pandemic.

As of Monday morning there were 295 people in Ontario hospitalized due to the virus, including 78 in ICU.

Quebec, which has recorded more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases since the global pandemic began, reported 879 new cases on Sunday.

Writing in French on Twitter, provincial Health Minister Christian Dubé said in comparing the last two weeks, the number of cases is stable but remains high. Dubé urged people to make an effort to slow transmission of the virus, noting that new cases could lead to increased hospitalizations and deaths.

The most recent figures available on Quebec’s COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 551, with 97 in intensive care.

“As hospitalizations and deaths tend to lag behind increased disease activity by one to several weeks, the concern is that we have yet to see the extent of severe impacts associated with the ongoing increase in COVID-19 disease activity,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a statement on Sunday. 

WATCH: Dr. Christopher Labos talks about COVID-19 in Ontario and Quebec:

The COVID-19 situation is relatively stable in Ontario and better in Quebec compared to a month ago, and it’s important to look at the trend of cases, says epidemiologist and cardiologist Dr. Christopher Labos. 2:59


What’s happening across Canada

As of 10:20 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 216,955 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 182,108 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting rose to 9,952.

Voters are going to the polls today in Saskatchewan, the third provincial election since the pandemic began. Elections Saskatchewan said on Twitter over the weekend that 153,749 ballots were cast in four days of advance voting. That number is almost the same as the 2016 and 2011 advanced voting combined, the election agency said.

In Manitoba, provincial health officials reported 161 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and four new deaths. A statement from officials Sunday said there were “77 people in hospital and 15 people in intensive care.”

Alberta, which reported 432 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, did not provide updated figures over the weekend.

In British Columbia, which did not provide updated numbers over the weekend, a school is facing a temporary closure. École de l’Anse-au-sable in Kelowna will be closed until Nov. 4 after 11 people tested positive and 160 more were asked to self-isolate.

New Brunswick health officials announced Sunday that two more people in the province “have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the total of lives lost to six.” The province also announced two new cases — one in the Campbellton region and one in the Fredericton region.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials announced one new case of COVID-19, an Ontario man in his 60s who had recently travelled to western Newfoundland after he was granted a travel exemption.

Prince Edward Island had no new cases on Sunday, nor did Nova Scotia.  There were no new cases in Yukon, Nunavut or the Northwest Territories on Sunday.


What’s happening around the world

Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the global spread of the novel virus, reported 43,174,685 cases worldwide, with 29,014,4079 cases listed as recovered, as of 10:50 a.m. ET on Monday. The Baltimore-based university reported 1,155,473 deaths worldwide. 

In Europe, France was reporting that virus patients now occupy more than half of the country’s intensive care units, and some doctors are urging tougher restrictions after another record jump in confirmed infections. Dr. Jean-Francois Delfraissy, head of the government’s virus advisory body, expressed surprise Monday at the “brutality” of the rise, after more than 52,000 new cases were reported Sunday.

France has been among countries hardest-hit by the pandemic, reporting 34,761 virus-related deaths. It is currently registering more than 340 positive cases per 100,000 people nationwide each week.

People walk past a restaurant on the first night of a countrywide curfew on Sunday in Madrid. Spain has declared a national state of emergency and imposed a night-time curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. in an effort to help control a new spike in COVID-19 infections. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

In Spain, which has had more than 1 million cases of the disease, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned the country was facing an “extreme” situation as he announced a new state of emergency on Sunday, imposing local nighttime curfews and banning travel between regions in some cases.

Authorities in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia are considering a mandatory stay-at-home order for weekends only, one of the strictest measures being imposed across the country to combat a sharp resurgence of the coronavirus.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s former coronavirus hot spot Melbourne will largely emerge from lockdown after the city on Monday recorded its first day without a new COVID-19 case in more than four months. Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said from 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday all shops, restaurants, cafes and bars will be allowed to open and outdoors contact sports can resume.

India on Monday reported fewer than 46,000 new coronavirus cases, continuing a downward trend, though rising air pollution and the Hindu festival season continue to raise fears of a fresh surge in infections. The country’s health ministry said that 45,148 new cases raised the country’s overall toll to over 7.9 million. The ministry also reported 480 new fatalities, raising the death toll to 119,014.

In the Americas, the race for the U.S. presidency continues amid the global pandemic, with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence campaigning on Sunday despite a COVID-19 outbreak among his aides. The pandemic, which has caused about 225,000 U.S. deaths and left millions of Americans jobless, remains front and centre in the presidential race.

Trump continues to insist the U.S. is turning the corner as new coronavirus new cases surge across most of the country, with nine days to go before the election. 3:30

Residents in the Texas border city of El Paso have been urged to stay home for two weeks as a spike in coronavirus cases overwhelms hospitals.

Nurses gathered information on Oct. 23 from patients lining up in their cars for COVID-19 tests at the University of Texas El Paso. County health officials on Sunday reported 772 new cases, a day after a record 1,216 new infections were reported. (Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images)

The uptick in virus cases has also prompted the state to dedicate part of the city’s civic centre as a makeshift heath-care centre for the ill. On Sunday night, El Paso County’s top elected official issued a stay-at-home order that imposes a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Violators could be fined $500 US under the order.

Mexican health authorities acknowledge the country’s true death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is far higher than previously thought, saying there were 193,170 “excess” deaths in the year up to Sept. 26. Of those, 139,153 are now judged to be attributable to COVID-19. Mexico’s official, test-confirmed death toll is only about 89,000, but officials previously acknowledged many people didn’t get tested or their tests were mishandled.

A member of the cleaning team sanitizes the stadium as part of the COVID-19 protocol before the 15th round at Kraken Stadium on Saturday in Mazatlan, Mexico. (Sergio Mejia/Getty Images)

In the Middle East, Qatar has signed an agreement with drugmaker Moderna Inc to buy its potential COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is approved and released for global use, state news agency QNA quoted a health official as saying on Sunday. 

Israel will begin human trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by a research institute overseen by the country’s defence ministry on Nov. 1 after receiving regulatory approval, the ministry said on Sunday.

In Africa, South Africa’s health ministry reported 24 additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the country’s total to 18,968. South Africa has the most recorded coronavirus cases in Africa, with Johns Hopkins putting its cumulative case number at 715,868.

Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca

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Canada's transport regulator hasn't settled a single COVID-19 flight cancellation complaint – CBC.ca

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The Canadian Transportation Agency has failed to settle a single complaint from Canadians demanding refunds for cancelled flights since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, CBC News has learned. 

The independent tribunal said it has been inundated with close to 10,000 complaints from mid-March, when global air travel largely ground to a halt, until Oct. 16. 

The agency confirmed it’s still processing complaints it received before March 11; it has yet to deal with any cases filed during the public health crisis.

For months, Canada’s Transport Minister has told Canadians if they are unsatisfied with refunds, the course of action is to file complaints with the tribunal.

Carly Aubertin and her husband Rob McLean are upset that they filed a complaint in April, which has been sitting in limbo ever since.

“It’s just so disheartening,” said Aubertin. “It’s frustrating that the government’s not there to support us.” 

The Ontario residents are considering selling their home as they wrestle with living off a single income because the pandemic has hurt McLean’s business. Sunwing gave them a voucher for a cancelled trip to Antigua due to COVID, rather than a full refund that could help pay their mortgage until the spring.

 “Right now, I mean, $5,000? There’s five months of mortgage right there,” she said.

Long backlog before pandemic started

The delay is partially due to a two-year backlog of complaints the CTA received before the pandemic struck. The backlog is tied to a significant influx of complaints received after new air passenger protection regulations came into effect in December 2019.

COVID-19 hampered further efforts to process complaints; the CTA temporarily paused its discussions with airlines regarding “dispute resolution activities” until June 30, 2020 to allow airlines to focus on more urgent matters. The agency also granted airlines an extension until Oct. 28 to respond to passengers seeking compensation.

But the CTA says it’s making progress on tackling the caseload. The agency processed a record number of complaints in the past fiscal year. The administrative tribunal also received a funding boost to get through cases more quickly and says it’s weeks away from starting on complaints filed during the pandemic.

WATCH | Thousands of Canadian travellers are waiting for flight refunds:

CBC News has learned that despite receiving thousands of complaints from travellers looking for refunds for flights cancelled due to COVID-19, the Canadian Transportation Agency has not settled a single one. 1:59

An ongoing battle for closure

The agency said it’s now working through about 17,300 complaints. 

Those includes complaints from Canadians like Aubertin and McLean, who spent about $5,000 for a spring vacation with a group of friends to celebrate some of their 40th and 50th birthdays.

McLean found himself without work during the pandemic, meaning the Port Robinson, Ont., couple has started to dip into their retirement savings. His last pay cheque was in February. 

“It’s frustrating because in these times we hear the leaders of our country saying to look out for everybody and do the right thing and respect your community, and then to allow these multimillion dollar companies to keep our money interest free for an extended period of time doesn’t feel like the right thing to us,” McLean said. 

Aubertin said the obstacles have been particularly disappointing given that other countries have taken a firmer stance on helping passengers.

In April, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a notice reminding U.S. and foreign airlines that they “remain obligated to provide a prompt refund to passengers” despite the pandemic and warned that it would take “enforcement action” as necessary.

Carly Aubertin, left, and Rob McLean, right, have emailed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for help — but his office said the couple’s only option was to file a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency. (Submitted)

In Canada, airlines have been asking the government for financial help to survive an unprecedented drop in business during the height of the pandemic. In many cases, airlines have been issuing travel vouchers redeemable for two years, rather than refunds. 

The CTA said it issued a “non-binding statement” on issuing vouchers in the face of “unprecedented and extraordinary circumstances” during the pandemic.

The agency said the industry collapsed worldwide and there was an “absence of any general minimum obligation under the law for airlines to pay refunds for flights cancelled for reasons beyond their control.”

After months of public outrage, WestJet announced last week it was changing its refund policy on Nov. 2 to give customers back money for flights cancelled due to COVID-19.

Air Canada took to Twitter shortly afterwards and said it’s already repaid $1.2 billion to date for refundable tickets cancelled during the pandemic.

John Gradek, a former Air Canada executive and lecturer at McGill University’s aviation management program, said the timing is no coincidence.

Canada’s major airlines — WestJet, Air Canada, Air Transat, Sunwing and Swoop — are facing a series of class action lawsuits over refunds during COVID and the federal court certification hearing is scheduled for Nov. 2. 

Gradek also believes airlines realized there wasn’t public support for a government bailout unless carriers refunded passengers first. The Globe and Mail reported Friday cabinet is currently deliberating a package for the aviation sector that includes scaling back airport fee increases and low interest loans.

CTA losing credibility, Bloc MP says

Passengers and consumers have a right to feel upset about the federal government’s lack of action, said Bloc Québécois MP and transport critic Xavier Barsalou-Duval.

On Friday, he presented a bill seeking to amend the Canada Transportation Act in order to ensure passengers are fully refunded in the event that an air carrier cancels a flight. 

He said Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s failure to resolve the issue has put undue pressure on the CTA.

“By not acting, Mr. Garneau’s transferring the weight of the situation on the shoulders of the CTA and that’s a big problem,” said Barsalou-Duval. 

“[The CTA is] losing credibility. And that’s the big problem because usually they’re supposed to… apply the rules, apply the law.”

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s office has stated for months that he sympathizes with those seeking refunds, while reiterating that airlines are going through a difficult time. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

In a statement to CBC News on Sunday, Garneau said he understood the frustration.

“This situation is far from ideal,” he said. “We are encouraged to see that some airlines have refunded their customers, and expect air carriers will do their best to accommodate passengers under these extraordinary circumstances,” the statement read.

“This is an important issue to Canadians. We also continue to work with the airlines to address the overall challenges they are facing due to the pandemic.”

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Thanksgiving, fewer restrictions contributing to Canada's surge in COVID-19 cases, experts say – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Experts say there are a variety of factors contributing to Canada’s recent surge in record breaking COVID-19 cases including Thanksgiving celebrations, fewer restrictions and increased testing capacity.

Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious disease expert at the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University in Montreal, told CTVNews.ca family gatherings that occurred two weeks ago are a “likely contributor to the higher numbers of cases that many provinces have been reporting” in recent days.

Quebec continues to be the epicentre of the pandemic in Canada, surpassing more than 100,000 confirmed positive cases in the province on Sunday. Ontario, the second hardest hit province, registered more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time, setting another record for the number of infections in a single day.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health says Thanksgiving may be to blame for the spike while Alberta’s top doctor also cited the holiday as the source of surging coronavirus cases there.

“The leading source of exposures for active cases right now are close contacts, and many of the cases that we are seeing now are the result of spread over Thanksgiving when families gathered together,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in her provincial update on Thursday.

“People did not mean to spread COVID, but it is a reminder where social gatherings, where social distancing and masking are not used consistently are a significant risk for spread.”

Prairie numbers confirm the situation is growing more dire, with Alberta yet again breaking two records on Friday, reporting an unprecedented 432 new cases and 3,651 active cases ahead of the weekend.

Saskatchewan announced 78 new cases of COVID-19, making it the second province to report a new single-day high on Saturday, while Manitoba recorded 153 new cases and two additional deaths, the fifth consecutive day new cases have topped 100.

However, Oughton warned that the Thanksgiving holiday is not the only reason why cases are increasing across the country.

“Understanding why these transmissions are occurring in real time is important if we want to identify new risk factors and reduce numbers of new infections before we see increases in more vulnerable populations,” Oughton explained in an email on Sunday.

He said the change in weather may have more Canadians spending time indoors with poorer ventilation and in closer proximity to others compared to the summer months, giving more opportunities for transmission.

In addition, Oughton said provinces may be seeing higher case numbers now than during the first wave because testing capacity has increased in many areas. For example, Quebec’s goal was to conduct 14,000 tests per day during the first wave. Now, the province is recording around 25,000 tests each day.

“It is possible that there were more cases in the first wave that were never tested, and that those ‘missed’ cases were more similar to the cases we are seeing today,” Oughton said.

MORE RESTRICTIONS NEEDED

Despite the Thanksgiving holiday being over, Dr. Ronald St. John, the former director-general of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response, is not sure that case numbers will now begin to decrease.

He told CTV news Channel on Sunday that the steady upwards trends of infections is worrisome.

“The important thing… is to look back over a period of days to see what the trend might be, and when I say trend I mean are cases going up at a steady rate, or are they actually accelerating?” St. John said. “And it looks like it’s a fairly steady trend upwards.”

St. John said COVID fatigue may be a reason why cases are continuing to increase as Canadians grow tired of taking virus precautions.

“We have a problem in terms of the public health measures that we can use to try to contain this virus. They depend on people’s behaviour, individually and collectively… and I think people are getting very tired and as a result, I think there are some lapses in following the precautions recommended by authorities,” he explained.

St. John warned that fewer virus restrictions and a decreased compliance with those restrictions may add to the surge of infections in the coming days.

“This virus will step in wherever somebody makes an exception to the public health measures, and this virus will cause more infections, chains of infections and death increases as we’ve seen in these provinces,” he said.

Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor in the department of medicine at the University of Toronto who studies infectious diseases, says the rising tide of cases across much of Canada appears unlikely to recede if stricter measures are not imposed.

“This is a disease that grows exponentially … and when things ramp up quickly they come on with gangbusters. We’ve seen that everywhere else around the world right now, especially in Europe,” Morris previously told The Canadian Press.

“As it moves to older adults, you’re going to see more people proportionally with severe disease. I believe we’re at a point right now where these increases are largely inevitable unless there’s more substantial action to try to tamp all of this second wave down.”

Morris said tighter limits on group gatherings and indoor activities may be necessary.

“It is a mindset … When the public hears that there’s still a fair amount of freedom from the government, what that also tells them is that it really isn’t so bad right now,” he said.

On Sunday, Canada’s top physician warned that minimizing the impact of COVID-19 will only work if everyone follows public health guidelines.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the number of Canadians experiencing severe illness is already on the rise amid the spike in cases, raising concerns about hospital capacity.

To ensure ICUs don’t become overwhelmed, she reminded Canadians to keep physically a part.

“While I know keeping physically apart is difficult, particularly when we want to mark life’s important moments like weddings and funerals, now is not the time for hosting large in-person gatherings,” Tam said in a written statement.

“Right now, doing the best thing to keep our family, friends and community safer means keeping safely apart, connecting virtually, and finding safer ways to care and support each other.”

She implored Canadians to continue doing their part to help limit the spread of COVID-19 by keeping social circles small, maintain physical distancing and hand hygiene, and wear face masks when appropriate.

With files from The Canadian Press

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