JEAN CHRETIEN'S new Canadian government has moved quickly to implement two major election promises, cancelling a contract for helicopters and allocating funds for make-work construction projects at its first cabinet meeting on Thursday.
The outgoing Conservative government had been committed to purchase 43 of the new EH101 helicopters from a consortium led by Westland in Britain and Agusta of Italy and to outfit them in Canada for anti-submarine warfare, operating them from a new fleet of frigates currently under construction.
Representatives of both the British and Italian governments had prevailed upon the Liberals to reconsider their election promise to kill the C$4.8bn ( pounds 2.4bn) project, but the overtures were dismissed by Mr Chretien, even before he was formally sworn into office.
Mr Chretien also sent a signal to Washington that his Liberal government will be taking a tougher approach on Canada-United States relations, especially trade, than the outgoing government which had made close links with the US a cornerstone of its foreign policy.
Although the Canadian parliament had passed a bill ratifying the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico, that bill had never been proclaimed by the Conservatives. …