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Sept 12 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories from selected Canadian newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* The Parti Québécois is pushing the private sector to adopt its proposed charter of values as a model to create a more secular workplace. The charter, which would regulate religious-based clothing for public employees, has been met with mixed reactions, including concerns in the private sector that it sends a negative signal to would-be immigrants. ()
* Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday against a U.S. strike on Syria, saying such action risked escalating the conflict beyond that country and unleashing terrorist attacks. Writing in the New York Times, Putin said there were "few champions of democracy" in the 2-1/2-year-old civil war in Syria, "but there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all types battling the government." ()
* An armored car guard who gunned down four crewmates on the job has been handed the toughest sentence in Canada since the country's last execution, but it is not enough for some family members of his victims. An Edmonton judge agreed on Wednesday to a plea deal that gives 22-year-old Travis Baumgartner a life sentence with no chance of parole for 40 years. ()
Reports in the business section:
* BlackBerry Ltd is stepping up its lobbying efforts in Ottawa in a bid to smooth regulatory hurdles if the company can find a foreign buyer for its struggling business. The Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone maker recently added the Investment Canada Act to its discussion topics with government officials under the lobbying registry, which previously included a number of topics ranging from intellectual property legislation to tax policy, law enforcement and other subjects. ()
* Alberta natural gas prices, already under pressure after recent changes to pipeline transport rates, have weakened against a backdrop of mild weather and bulging inventories, a potential hit on the province's finances even as oil markets look brighter. ()
* Bombardier Inc's rail division continues to expand its signaling business by winning its first major contract in the Eastern European country of Azerbaijan. The Berlin-based division of the train and plane maker is part of a consortium awarded a $288 million contract to supply signaling equipment for a 503-kilometre line to Azerbaijan Railways.
* It could be called a storm in a coffee cup, but New Brunswick's Green Party leader wants Quebec-style sign legislation requiring all businesses to post signs in French as well as English. David Coon was spurred into action after Seattle, Washington-based Starbucks Corp opened a coffee shop in the city and provided customers with menus in English only. ()
* The wrangling over transit in Scarborough shows no sign of abating, with Mayor Rob Ford disputing whether the city should pay for any subway cost overruns, and the Toronto Transit Commission chairwoman delivering her strongest rebuke yet of the route favored by the province. ()
* Canada's largest oil company has added its voice to those playing down the importance of Keystone XL, as the U.S. government weighs approval of the contentious pipeline. "The belief is that the industry will get access to markets" with or without the pipeline, Suncor Energy Inc chief executive Steve Williams said on Wednesday. ()
* Irving Oil Co could be facing some hefty fines after it was determined the crude oil involved in the Lac-Mégantic disaster had been improperly labeled. The Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday its investigation into the July 6 Lac-Mégantic derailment, in which 47 people died, determined the oil contained in the railcars was mislabeled and more flammable than previously thought. ()
* Low interest rates are helping to boost property markets across the globe and Canada is no exception, says a new report from the Bank of Nova Scotia. However, future gains in Canada are no guarantee, the report from economist Adrienne Warren says. ()