Jan 25 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories from selected Canadian newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* An executive from a Quebec engineering firm has testified that many of the province’s top engineering companies, including the troubled giant SNC Lavalin Group Inc, colluded to pay political kickbacks and to win fixed construction contracts.
Michel Lalonde, the president of Genius Conseil, told Quebec’s construction inquiry on Thursday that a list of top companies were complicit in the scheme to secure road and sewer design and construction surveillance contracts by sending bribes and kickbacks to the political party headed by the city’s mayor. ()
* Shawn Atleo, national chief of Assembly of First Nations, said any divisions in the aboriginal community are trumped by shared objectives, including ending “the status quo”, and that many of the community’s goals are similar to those of the rest of Canadians. ()
Reports in the business section:
* Talisman Energy Inc plans to slash its general and administrative (G&A) costs by “at least 20 per cent over all”, Helen Wesley, the company’s executive vice president of corporate services, told the CIBC Whistler Institutional Investor Conference on Thursday. ()
* Agrium Inc raised its fourth-quarter earnings estimate based on robust grain and oilseed prices that are helping boost demand for its fertilizers and other products. The Calgary-based company said it expects fourth-quarter earnings to be slightly above C$2 per share, compared with its previous guidance of C$1.50 to C$1.90. ()
* Facing drastically falling oil revenue, Alberta Premier Alison Redford set the stage for serious spending cuts and possible tax hikes during a televised fireside chat on Thursday.
Redford blamed a “bitumen bubble” and warned Albertans about austere times to come. The government has forecast a deficit in the current fiscal year of C$3 billion. ()
* At least one Calgary oil executive is appealing to Canadian pocket books as the U.S. state department decides the fate of TransCanada Corp’s Alberta-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline. Export constraints on Alberta heavy oil production are costing each Canadian C$1,200 per year, Cenovus Energy Inc CEO Brian Ferguson said on Thursday. ()
* Canadian wireless carriers must make changes to their networks and systems to support 911 emergency text messages from hearing and speech impaired persons, the federal telecom regulator said on Thursday. The service would only be provided to the hearing and speech impaired who have pre-registered for it with their wireless carrier, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said. ()