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April 17 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories from selected Canadian newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Canadian singer Rita MacNeil, known as Cape Breton's first lady of song, has died at the age of 68. Her website says she died Tuesday night from complications following surgery. ()
* The federal Conservative government will stop funding the Health Council of Canada created to ensure common standards for healthcare across provinces and territories - a move that critics say will fragment the national system of medicare. ()
Reports in the business section:
* A group of Alberta municipal politicians and energy companies is urging that more oil and gas be processed in the province, reviving a long simmering debate on how best to leverage the Alberta boom.
The launch of the campaign, dubbed Alberta Plus, included the release of a report by Ronald Schlenker, a senior instructor in economics at the University of Calgary. His report argues that upgrading and refining more of Alberta's petroleum products before exporting them - known as a "value-added" approach - could create 18,000 new jobs and boost the provincial gross domestic product by billions of dollars. ()
* Alberta regulators have accused Sherry Hagerty, a former employee of Pembina Pipeline Corp, of illegal insider trading, alleging she advised her husband to buy shares of Provident Energy Ltd after she learned her employer was considering a takeover bid for the gas company. ()
* Four months after bill C-377 was passed by the House of Commons that would require labor unions to disclose detailed financial information, including how much they spend on political activities, it has run into opposition in the Senate. ()
* The federal government is changing the software on the full-body scanners used to provide security at airports so they no longer produce a complete outline of a traveler's body.
Transport Canada says the new technology, already in use in the United States and the Netherlands, will increase privacy while still ensuring security. ()
* SNC Lavalin Group Inc is moving to protect its reputation in Algeria, a key market in which it has operated for years despite the threat of terrorist attacks.
Canada's largest engineering firm this week sent an open letter to the media in the North African nation, insisting it is co-operating with law enforcement authorities in several countries that have opened investigations into its business and repeating that anyone who has committed illegal acts should be brought to justice. ()
* The latest global report card on Canada's economy is cautionary and firm: weaker growth could mean budget balancing efforts and higher lending rates will need to be put on hold.
The outlook for Canada's economy has weakened significantly in the past few months, falling further behind the United States and still below many other industrialized nations. ()