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Canada tells subsidiaries to defy U.S.

In an unprecedented action, the Canadian government has ordered Canadian companies, including subsidiaries of U.S. concerns, to ignore U.S. legislation that would prohibit trade with Cuba. The U.S. legislation is an intrusion into Canadian sovereignty, which the government finds "clearly unacceptable," External Affairs Minister Joe Clark said Wednesday.

The U.S. legislation has cleared both houses of Congress and is likely to be signed by President Bush. Proposed by Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla., the so-called Mack Amendment would make it illegal for any U.S. subsidiary, including those in Canada, to do business with Cuba.

Under the Canadian order, U.S.-owned subsidiaries operating in Canada must not only ignore the U.S. prohibition on their trade with Cuba, but also must report to Canadian authorities directives or instructions they receive about the pending U.S. law.

Canada has maintained diplomatic recognition and full trade relations with Cuba while the U.S. broke off both more than 20 years ago in an effort to isolate the government of Fidel Castro.

"For the U.S., it is an issue concerning Cuba," Clark said. "We happen to disagree with some aspects of their policy."