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PRESS DIGEST- Canada - Dec 20

Dec 20 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories from selected Canadian newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.


* An armored-vehicle program, once deemed essential to protect soldiers from roadside bombs, is being ditched by the Conservative government, defense and government sources say. The $2.1 billion, close-combat vehicle acquisition joins a long list of troubled and failed military procurements. ()

* The National Energy Board has given a conditional green light to the Northern Gateway pipeline project, handing off to Prime Minister Stephen Harper a crucial decision that threatens to intensify aboriginal opposition and become a political flashpoint in the next federal election.

In a report Thursday, an NEB review panel recommended that Ottawa approve the $6.5 billion pipeline and crude supertanker terminal in Kitimat, British Columbia once the government and Enbridge Inc have addressed the 209 environmental, safety and financial conditions set down by the panel.()

Reports in the business section:

* Canadian regulators alleged on Thursday that a Silvercorp Metals Inc short-seller committed fraud when he wrote negative reports about the mining company in order to profit from a drop in the miner's stock. ()

* A move by the Canadian government to block Pizza Pizza Ltd and other Canadian restaurant chains from importing low-cost U.S. mozzarella is stoking trade tensions with the United States.

A senior U.S. trade official has bluntly warned Ottawa that the decision could harm its exporters and was made without proper notice or justification. ()

* Canada is once again delaying emissions regulations in the oil and gas sector, despite major pipeline projects that continue to put intense scrutiny on the energy industry's environmental track record. ()


* Gregory Logan, an Alberta ex-Mountie who for 10 years orchestrated the most pervasive narwhal tusk-smuggling ring of modern times, is now set to face U.S. prosecutors only two months after a New Brunswick court handed him Canada's largest-ever wildlife penalty. ()

* Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he felt betrayed and deceived at being left in the dark over the secret $90,000 check his former chief of staff gave to senator Mike Duffy. ()


* Canada's broadcast regulator, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, offered a preview of a television system based on individual choices in a decision on Thursday that also highlighted its willingness to intervene in the marketplace to promote news programming. ()

* Canadians will ramp up their record levels of debt in 2014, says one of the country's leading rating agencies.

Credit-monitoring agency TransUnion predicts in its first such annual forecast that the average consumer's total non-mortgage debt will hit an all-time high of $28,853 by the end of 2014. ()

* It's been a busy week for Canadian regulators as they roll out new rules designed to meet global regulatory reform in the area of derivatives trading.

On Thursday, the Canadian Securities Administrators proposed a model for central counterparty clearing of over-the-counter derivatives. The new system, if implemented in its current form, will determine which derivatives are subject to central clearing. ()