Sept 18 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories from selected Canadian newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Quebec’s intense debate over restrictions on religious minorities was supposed to peel the blue paint off the walls of the National Assembly to start the fall sitting. But instead of pressing the issue on Tuesday, the three main provincial parties pulled back to survey the changing political landscape. ()
* The British Columbia New Democratic Party is already debating questions over leadership succession even as it awaits word, expected as early as Wednesday, from Adrian Dix about whether he will step down as party leader. The party, weighed down by debt and still torn apart over its dismal showing in the May provincial election, appears to be far from ready for an expensive and likely divisive leadership contest. ()
* Toronto is scaling back plans to hike development fees on new homes in a move that will delay the full impact of rate increases and ward off a battle with the development industry. The compromise, outlined in a staff report released Tuesday, would see the fees for a single home or semi jump to C$34,482 ($33,500) from C$19,412. That’s a 78 percent increase, but less than the C$37,457 fee proposed in June. ()
Reports in the business section:
* Some of Canada’s biggest retailers are warning that a foreign retail invasion signals what one executive calls a “bloodbath” in Ontario that threatens to spill over into the rest of Canada. Ontario has been ground zero of the retail battle after U.S. discounter Target Corp opened its first Canadian store in the province in March, before moving on to Western provinces. ()
* Barrick Gold Corp has confirmed plans to add independent directors to its board and review how much it pays its executives amid increased shareholder pressure. The gold producer has faced months of criticism over its weak financial performance, extravagant compensation and the lack of independent mining experts in its boardroom. ()
* Industry Canada is cracking the whip on wireless carriers, warning them not to talk openly about their strategies for buying spectrum in an upcoming federal auction. Carriers had until noon on Tuesday to submit application papers and a 5 percent deposit to qualify to bid in the auction of the 700 megahertz frequency. ()
* Federal bureaucrats highlighted negative media coverage as they pressed the Harper government to act quickly on the rapid deterioration of the Champlain Bridge uncovered by inspections warning about the risks of a collapse. ()
* It has been a week since the Parti Quebecois (PQ) government made public its proposed Charter of Quebec Values, and so far things are not exactly going as planned. On Tuesday, Jean-François Lisee, the PQ minister responsible for Montreal, admitted as much when he invited the public to submit ideas on how the charter - a year in the making - could be made more palatable. “We’re looking at ways to improve the proposal,” he said. ()
* On Monday, staffers in the offices of Liberal MPs across the country started tracking their bosses’ travel and hospitality expenses, preparing to post them online this time next month.
* The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board is among 23 firms caught in a targeted sweep by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for short-selling violations ahead of public offerings. The specific rules at the heart of the SEC sweep are aimed at preventing short selling that can artificially depress the market price in the days ahead of the pricing and, therefore, reduce proceeds from public offerings. ()
* One of Canada’s best-known mining executives, Goldcorp Inc chairman Ian Telfer, is seeking to settle allegations brought against him by the Ontario Securities Commission. Telfer was not accused of insider tipping or trading. Instead, the OSC alleged that he acted “contrary to the public interest” by helping an old friend, the executive assistant to the chairman of GMP Securities LP, disguise her scheme. ()
* Barely a dozen years ago, Alberta was producing so much natural gas the resource was the mainstay of the provincial economy and a big reason Canada was the second-largest natural gas exporter on the planet. Today, Alberta gas is dirt cheap and is struggling to find a home, pushed to the sidelines by shale gas discoveries in the United States and competition from British Columbia. ()