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REASSURANCE CALMS CANADIAN MARKETS

Canadian leaders sought to reassure foreign governments and investors that the failure of a constitutional accord did not threaten the country with instability, and financial markets reacted calmly Monday.

The Canadian dollar held steady against the U.S. dollar on North American markets, prompting relief among Canadian officials who feared the death of the Meech Lake accord might trigger a run on its currency.

"It's a calm response, a steady response, a realistic response," said Finance Minister Michael Wilson. "They feel it's not a time for snap decisions."

External Affairs Minister Joe Clark and Derek Burney, Canada's ambassador to the United States, both appeared on U.S. television programs Monday in an effort to dispel fears that Canada was on the verge of breaking up.

The constitutional accord, which would have recognized French-speaking Quebec as a "distinct society," failed to meet a midnight Saturday deadline for obtaining the required ratification by all 10 provincial legislatures.

The Canadian dollar closed Monday at 84.85 U.S. cents in Toronto, unchanged from Friday's close. The Toronto stock market was down moderately in light trading at the close as the TSE composite index dropped 16.56 to 3474.16.

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