PRESS DIGEST-Canada-Feb 1

Fri Feb 1, 2013 5:14am EST

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Feb 1 (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 GLOBE AND MAIL

* Canada will begin a two-year stint at the helm of the eight-nation Arctic Council amid a clamor of competing calls for leadership, as the ice recedes and the race heats up to extract resource riches while protecting a fragile and now-exposed environment.

* Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is publicly at odds with a key member of his team again, this time in a he-said, she-said spat with the Toronto Transit Commission chair.

The verbal tussle over the approval last week by the transit commission of a 15-year sole-source contract is the latest example of Ford's difficulty seeing eye to eye with even fiscal conservatives on council.

Reports in the business section:

* The Canadian economy expanded at its fastest pace in more than half a year, but the bigger picture is still one of slow growth. The country's gross domestic product rose 0.3 percent in November, Statistics Canada said Thursday, its strongest showing in seven months as auto makers and oil firms ramped up activity.

NATIONAL POST

* Prime Minister Stephen Harper says while some of his Conservative Members of Parliament may not agree, abortion is legal in Canada. Harper made the comments while under questioning in the House of Commons over a letter written by three Tory MPs who want the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate hundreds of abortions as possible homicides.

FINANCIAL POST

* Two of Canada's biggest retailers, Best Buy Canada and Sears Canada Inc, announced layoffs Thursday in what is shaping up to be a turbulent and competitive year for the country's retail sector.

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