March 21 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories from selected Canadian newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Even before Finance Minister Jim Flaherty gets to work Thursday on his top priority - slaying the C$26 billion ($25.32 billion) deficit by 2015 - it’s worth pointing out that he’s chasing a moving target.
The federal government’s current forecast is for a deficit of C$26 billion in the fiscal year that ends this month. But Thursday’s budget will contain a new estimate, and based on what we already know about the first nine months, the deficit could come in much lower - perhaps C$20 billion, according to an estimate by the Royal Bank of Canada. ()
* Ontario’s new Premier Kathleen Wynne has sent lottery executives back to the drawing board, forcing them to drop a promise of up to C$100 million a year in hosting fees for a Toronto casino.
After a meeting with Wynne in her Queen’s Park office, top executives of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp withdrew their plan to give a special funding deal to Toronto if city councillors approve a casino. ()
* Canada has cut direct foreign aid to China as part of an overhaul of international assistance spending.
It’s one of 14 countries that will see their aid either reduced or eliminated by the end of next year as the Canadian International Development Agency slashes C$377 million in aid spending by 2014-2015. ()
Reports in the business section:
* Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke has opened the door to speculation about his future at the central bank, revealing that he has discussed the matter with U.S. President Barack Obama and indicating that he feels no personal obligation to lead the ultimate unwinding of the Fed’s extraordinary bond-buying program. ()
* Increasing dredging requirements resulting from Enbridge’s massive oil spill into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010 could push the cleanup bill to almost $1 billion, above and beyond what is covered by the insurance of the company’s U.S. affiliate, that unit reported on Wednesday. ()
* A bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender Canadians was approved by the House of Commons on Wednesday.
The Opposition private member’s legislation passed by a vote of 149-137, with the crucial support of 16 Conservatives, including four cabinet ministers. ()
* A privately funded shelter for male victims of domestic abuse - believed to be the only refuge of its kind in the country - has closed.
Men’s rights advocate Earl Silverman said he can’t afford to keep the Men’s Alternative Safe House (MASH) running.
* BlackBerry Ltd has denied reports that its new mobile operating system is not secure enough for British government work.
According to a report by the Guardian, UK’s Communications Electronics Security Group (CESG) rejected BlackBerry’s new Z10 smartphone after the device’s operating system failed security requirements that previous versions of the BlackBerry operating system had passed. ()
* Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, said investors should bet on the “natural juices” of capitalism in the U.S. even as lawmakers struggle to narrow the budget deficit.
People tend to “focus too much on what the government’s done, and to give them either credit or blame,” Buffett said in an interview conducted by the chief executive officer of Business Wire, the Berkshire subsidiary that distributes press releases. “The real credit belongs to our system.” ()