U.S. Markets open in 7 hrs 19 mins

PRESS DIGEST- Canada-Dec 24

Dec 24 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories from selected Canadian newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.


* Toronto city councillors are divided over whether Mayor Rob Ford should have called a state of emergency in the wake of downed power lines, freezing temperatures and hundreds of thousands of people without hydro in their homes following Sunday's ice storm. In an emergency, Ford would have to relinquish his mayoral duties to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly as per a council decision that recently stripped Ford of some of his powers. However, the decision on whether to call a state of emergency remains Ford's under the law. ()

* Within three hours of the Joint Review Panel giving conditional approval for Enbridge Inc's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, the Lake Babine First Nation threatened to proceed with the lawsuit it has been preparing for months. The aboriginal community, based around the Babine Lake in British Columbia, has already retained one of the top aboriginal law experts in Canada. ()

Reports in the business section:

* Canadian insurers are grappling with the prospect of financial damage from yet another severe storm, capping off a brutal year that raised serious questions about how the industry will deal with the costs of climate change. ()

* Imperial Oil Ltd told regulators the estimated cost of its long-delayed Mackenzie Valley Project has surged more than 40 percent to at least C$20 billion ($19 billion) since its last tally almost seven years ago, and that it has no idea when North American gas markets might turn around to rescue the project from limbo. ()

* OMERS Private Equity, the private equity arm of the Ontario Municipal Employment Retirement System, has agreed to sell Maxxam Analytics International Corp to French company Bureau Veritas SA in a deal valued at about C$650 million including assumed debt. Maxxam Analytics operates a network of laboratories across Canada that serve the energy, environmental, food and DNA industries ()

* Shares in Reitmans Canada Ltd rose 6.9 percent on Monday, following an announcement by Toronto-based Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd that it now owns 13.8 percent of Reitmans' Class A shares. Fairfax, which is led by Prem Watsa, is now the second largest investor in the retailer behind a group of Reitmans' directors and senior officers. ()


* A paltry 9 percent of Canadian adults, fewer than one in 10, meet the criteria for "ideal" cardiovascular health, says a new study based on nearly half a million Canadians. ()


* The massive ice storm that has caused havoc in Toronto just days before Christmas, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and snarling public transit, is also expected to have a "negative impact" on the crucial holiday shopping season, prompting some retailers to stay open later and give people more time to get those last-minute gifts. ()

* The Bank of Canada announced Monday that deputy governor John Murray will step down on April 30. Murray, who has been a deputy governor since in January 2008, has overseen the central bank's analysis of domestic and international economic developments. ()