March 2 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories from selected Canadian newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
- Russian leader Vladimir Putin challenged Canada to set up a joint scientific council with his country to investigate issues over Arctic sovereignty and help the United Nations draw new boundaries in the northern regions, where fast-melting ice is opening channels for oil drilling, mining and shipping.
- The opposition Liberals are assembling a database of allegedly fraudulent phone calls to electors - what they call a body of evidence against the Harper Conservatives - as the governing Tories struggle to beat back accusations they were behind attempts to suppress votes in the 2011 ballot.
Reports in the Business Section
- Canada has turned from an automotive powerhouse with an industry trade surplus of $20 billion to a country coping with a $12 billion deficit - a staggering turnaround that reflects the steady rise in the Canadian dollar and a decade of turmoil in the sector.
- Canada's two largest banks are seeing profits fall as their capital markets businesses feel the pinch of global economic uncertainty, most notably in Europe.
Both Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank reported first-quarter profits on Thursday that were down slightly from the same period last year. The banks' earnings dropped by roughly 5 percent - to $1.86 billion and $1.48 billion respectively.
- Thomas Mulcair, the frontrunner to become the next leader of the New Democratic Party, would have joined the Harper government if the Conservatives had agreed to his demands for a Cabinet seat in 2007, according to a Tory source close to the discussions.
- The Immigration and Refugee Board has rejected the claim of a Japanese woman who sought asylum in Canada last year because she feared radiation leaked from the earthquake-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.
Financial Post section
- Canadians and Americans are flocking to dealerships across North America at levels not seen since the global economic meltdown gutted the industry in 2008. With Chrysler Canada Inc emerging as the unexpected back-to-back sales leader in the first two months of the year, Canadian auto sales are up an astounding 13 percent so far in 2012.