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Families of Flight MH17 victims seek answers; parents believe daughter is still alive

WATCH: Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Dyczynski travelled from Australia to the crash site to honour their daughter who was aboard Flight MH17

TORONTO – The parents of one of the passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 say they still believe their daughter could be alive and are reportedly threatening to sue anyone who may suggest otherwise without showing clear evidence.

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Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Dyczynski visited the rebel-controlled crash site last week and said nothing diminished their hope that their 25-year-old daughter Fatima somehow survived.

READ MORE: Rebels lay mines near Flight MH17 crash site

“There is a small possibility that something still survived,” said Fatima’s father in an interview. “The people of Donetsk were first at the crash site and if somebody survived maybe they have taken them.”

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 went down on July 17 as it flew from Amsterdam toward Kuala Lumpur.  Officials say all 298 people aboard died.

According to the Australian Associated Press, the Dyczynskis said they would be willing to sue anyone who suggested their daughter was killed before indisputable evidence was brought to them.

The couple says they have given DNA samples to the team of investigators who are currently working to identify the bodies of the victims.

“People may say ‘how could she survive a fall of 30,000 feet?’ but it has happened in extremely rare cases that the seat has remained intact,” said Fatima’s father in an interview with The New Zealand Herald.

Fatima’s parents say their daughter, who was travelling to Australia aboard flight MH17, was scheduled to speak at the upcoming International Astronautical Congress in Toronto this September.

Despite government officials advising victims’ families against immediately travelling to Ukraine, the Dyczynskis arrived at the crash site last week and laid down flowers.

“She was full of life,” said Fatima’s mother about her only child.

“She was an aerospace engineer, she was a scientist, she was a young person with new ideas and new perspectives and new horizons,” said Jerzy, a cardiologist and acupuncturist.

Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski whose daughter, 25-year-old Fatima, was a passenger on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, sit on part of the wreckage of the crashed aircraft in Hrabove, Ukraine, Saturday, July 26, 2014.

AP Photo/Nicholas Garriga

The Dyczynskis say they want their daughter’s colleagues from the space science community to become involved in the crash investigation as they believe the scientists could prevent future incidents.

Fatima’s father said he and his wife also want investigators to pursue other angles as to what may have downed Flight MH17.

“Maybe, other perspectives are important to investigate. It’s not only maybe a missile [that downed MH17] but something more,” he said. “If it would have been a missile, and the rebels shot down this aeroplane, they would not have handed out the black boxes.”

Ukraine national security spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Monday the plane suffered “massive explosive decompression” after it was hit by fragments he said came from a missile.

READ MORE: Missile shrapnel hit Malaysia Airlines, says Ukraine

The data recorders were sent to experts in Britain for examination.

Flight 17 went down on July 17 as it flew from Amsterdam toward Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people aboard died. The U.S. and Ukrainian governments say it was shot down by a missile fired from territory held by armed pro-Russian separatists, probably by mistake.

The separatists deny shooting down the plane; Russia says the Ukrainian military may have shot it down.

Last week, the Dyczynskis travelled from their home in Perth, Australia to honour their daughter.

They crossed territory held by pro-Russian rebels to reach the wreckage-strewn fields outside the village of Hrabove, where they sat together on part of the debris, his arm around her shoulder.

“[Fatima] was for peace. She will be forever for peace,” her father said.

– with files from The Associated Press

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Driver charged after councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon hit by car – Toronto

TORONTO – Toronto city councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon is reinforcing the call for more separated bike lanes after she was struck by a vehicle while riding her bicycle on Sunday.

The Beaches-East York councillor told the Toronto Sun she was hit just before 11 a.m. on Woodbine Avenue near Gerrard Street and was left lying on the ground until help arrived.

McMahon told the newspaper she was taken to hospital and given a CAT scan after paramedics discovered her blood pressure was low.

The driver of the vehicle has since been charged with careless driving.

The Ward 32 councillor has always been a strong advocate for separated bike lanes and maintains more needs to be done to keep cyclists safe.

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Hospital: 33 dead after Guinea concert stampede – National

CONAKRY, Guinea – Hundreds of people leaving a late-night rap concert on a beach in Guinea rushed to leave through a single exit, creating a stampede that killed at least 33 people, officials said Wednesday.

The victims included children as young as 10, and most bodies brought to an overflowing morgue in the capital were still dressed in bathing suits and swim trunks. Some had bled from their mouths after their small bodies were trampled, causing internal bleeding.

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“We are not used to seeing such a large number of bodies at the same time. It’s such a tragedy, these young victims killed in the prime of their life,” said an employee at Donka Hospital where bodies awaited burial.

The hospital’s director, Dr. Fatou Sike Camara, announced the toll of 33 deaths.

President Alpha Conde went on national television to declare a week of national mourning and promised a full investigation. The capital’s beaches also were ordered closed until further notice.

“The president calls on authorities at all levels to take the necessary steps so that this same tragedy never happens again in our country,” his office later said in a statement.

More than 700 people had gathered on the beach in Conakry, the capital city, for a concert celebrating the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which featured the Guinean rap groups Instinct Killers and Banlieuzart.

Witnesses said the stampede happened after the show ended as the large crowd tried to exit through a small gate. Some people fell to the ground and were trampled.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Harper announces $2.5M to train northern Saskatchewan miners

Watch above: Prime Minister Harper announces funding for mining school in northern Saskatchewan

AIR RONGE, Sask. – The federal government is committing $2.5 million to help train miners in northern Saskatchewan.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement at a training college in Air Ronge, a four hour drive northwest of Saskatoon.

“The rapidly expanding mining industry in Northern Saskatchewan is creating increased demand for local skilled workers,” said Harper.

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“Our Government’s investment for Northlands College will help students gain the training they need to access the jobs and prosperity being generated by the industry.”

The money will be used to purchase heavy equipment simulators and help create the Northlands College Mine School.

The school will include lab facilities which will allow the college to contribute to mining research together with the University of Saskatchewan and SIAST.

The college plans to recruit northern Saskatchewan residents and aboriginals for the training.

It is estimated that almost one in 16 jobs in Saskatchewan is supplied directly or indirectly by mining and will rise to one in five jobs by 2028.

“The support being provided today gives Northlands College the ability to increase and improve its program offerings so that more Northerners can secure good jobs in the rapidly growing mines sector and play an integral part in the development of the northern, provincial and national economy,” said Harper.

“The mining industry provides some of the highest paying jobs in the province, in fact, almost twice the weekly average wage and this investment will make sure that the people of northern Saskatchewan have access to the training they need to fill those jobs.”

Across the street from Harper’s announcement, 20 protesters held up signs urging him to do more to fight native poverty and environmental degradation.

Protesters gather in Air Ronge, Sask. on July 30, 2014 to urge Prime Minister Stephen Harper to do more to fight native poverty and environmental degradation.

Wendy Winiewski / Global News

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Instagram launches Snapchat rival ‘Bolt’ – National

TORONTO – Instagram has officially unveiled a disappearing photo messaging app called “Bolt,” meant to take on rival Snapchat, just one week after the app was leaked.

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The app allows users to send self-destructing photo and video messages to friends and include additions like text captions. Users can only send messages to one person at a time and are only able to have 20 friends on their “favourites” list.

Speculation surrounding the app began last week after some Instagram users reported receiving a notification about a new messaging app on their profiles. However, the link included in the notification was dead.

Bolt draws on features from competitor Snapchat and Facebook’s Slingshot app, which was released last month to compete with Snapchat.

READ MORE: Facebook launches ‘Slingshot’ app, for real this time

But Instagram is owned by Facebook – which means this is the company’s second shot at Snapchat.

Slingshot allows users to send photos or videos up to 15 seconds long – but, just like instant messaging competitor Snapchat’s app, the images disappear once viewed by the recipient.

Oddly enough Facebook also prematurely leaked the Snapchat app to the App Store before its official release.

Snapchat has seen massive success in the mobile messaging category. Users send over 400 million “snaps” per day, which makes it a fierce competitor for Facebook’s Messenger app.

And Facebook has a competitive past with the app.

In December 2012, Facebook released an app called “Poke” that mimicked Snapchat’s self-destructing photo feature. But the app tanked and was pulled from the App Store a year later.

In 2013, it was reported that Snapchat turned down a US$3-billion takeover bid from Facebook.

Then in February, Facebook purchased WhatsApp, another popular messaging app, for US$19 billion.

Instagram is initially launching Bolt in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. It’s not yet clear when the app will launch in other countries.

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Moncton para-athlete heads to world games in England – New Brunswick

MONCTON – A 22-year-old New Brunswick woman is representing Canada at the International Wheelchair and Amputee games in Stoke Mandeville, England, beginning next week.

Christel Robichaud flies out Thursday and will compete in the discus and shot put events. She’s ranked first in her class in the country and is one of only five Canadian para-athletes set to compete at the event.

She’s also the only New Brunswicker with a spot on the national team.

“Probably when I get there it’s going to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, there is a lot of people, I am not used to this,’” she said in an interview with Global News Wednesday.

Robichaud has Spina Bifida – but, more importantly, has some big dreams. She’s aiming to toss the discus at the Paralympics someday. And her trainer, Steve LeBlanc, says she’s got the potential.

“She’s been training in the sport for a year so to be on a national team is exceptional and is a pretty good indication of where she is able to go in the future,” he said.

Christel Robichaud is the only New Brunswicker headed to the world Wheelchair & Amputee games in England.

Steve Fiander/Global News

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Dealing with adversity is nothing new for Robichaud. Like so many Canadian athlete’s, she struggles to support her Olympic dreams.

“Living on $758/month is kind of hard for anyone and add sports costs to that,” she said.

Now that she’s on a national team, she hopes to access a $4,000 grant from the province. A province which, LeBlanc says, is becoming known across the country as a place where para-athletes are born.

“We’ve been one of the leaders in Canada for the development of para-athletics.”

Robichaud hopes that her experience at the worlds, win or lose, will encourage even more young people in the province with different abilities to take up competitive sport.

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Vegetables for dessert trend popping up on restaurant menus

Eat your veggies or no dessert? How about eat your vegetables AS dessert?

And we’re not talking grandma’s zucchini bread. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Maybe you’d like some beetroot ice cream as served by the Sweet Rose Creamery in Santa Monica, California. Or perhaps your fancy runs more to sweet asparagus beignets laced with almonds with green asparagus ice cream, poppy seed crunch and violet syrup, a creation of chef Bart Vandaele at the Belga Cafe in Washington, D.C.

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The trend is a natural outgrowth of the emphasis on eating fresh and local, says Kelly Liken, who runs her eponymous restaurant in Vail, Colorado. Serving the same fruit over and over can get a little monotonous and if you have lots of vegetables at your disposal it only makes sense to experiment a little.

Among the desserts she and pastry chef Colleen Carey have come up with are Peas & Carrots. That would be a concoction that includes brown butter financier (a type of cake) with a sauce of English peas alongside carrot sorbet and carrot marmalade.

Those are peas and carrots showing some serious side.

Liken, who appeared on Season 7 of Bravo’s Top Chef, opened her restaurant 10 years ago and “for 10 years we’ve been really, really focused on our local vegetables,” she says. “We’re constantly having to come up with new and innovative vegetable ideas.”

Some of the new desserts put a twist on old classics, like chef Jamie Bissonette’s carrot cake take.

Bissonette, the James Beard Award-winning chef behind Toro and Coppa in Boston and Toro in New York City, adds carrot juice to whipped cream to add a beautiful touch of orange to the dish, served at Coppa in Boston’s South End.

“I came up with the idea for carrot whip cream because I love carrot cake and wanted to do a slightly different take on it. It’s one of my absolute favourite desserts ever, and this incorporates the flavour of carrots into a sweet cake in a different way,” he says.

“I serve the carrot whip cream on olive oil cake with some carrot-parsley crumble and it’s this beautiful and fresh variation of one of the most classic desserts.”

Finding the vegetable sweet spot isn’t just for restaurants.

At Jamba Juice, the popular chain known for its juices and smoothies, the company saw the interest in vegetables and decided to incorporate them into what had been all-fruit smoothies.

The Apple n’ Greens smoothie, for instance combines apple and strawberry juices, kale, peaches, mangos and bananas. “Kale smoothie” might not be the first thing to spring to mind when thinking of delicious drinks. But it’s turned out to be a tasty and extremely popular, says Susan Shields, senior vice-president and chief innovation officer at Jamba Juice.

There are four fruit-veggie smoothies, including Tropical Harvest, which blends butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and mangos.

“The beauty about these four items is they taste really good,” says Shields. “The kids love these. They don’t know that they’re vegetables.”

With the new school year looming, along with the task of packing daily lunches, finding new ways to look at vegetables is something parents can explore. And it doesn’t have to be elaborate; Likens recommends tactics such as grating carrots and zucchini or other squashes into oatmeal cookie mix.

“I always tell parents that’s definitely a good way to ‘stealth health’ the dessert,” she says.

©2014The Associated Press

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Smart shoes deliver directions to your feet – National

TORONTO – For those of us who struggle with directions, map applications are a must – but having your head buried in your smartphone following along with Google Maps can be distracting and dangerous.

Enter the smart shoe.

Indian startup Ducere Tech has created a line of Bluetooth-enabled footwear called Lechal, designed to deliver directions straight to the user’s feet with vibrations.

Available in a shoe or insole, Lechal – which translates as “take me there” in Hindi – allows the user to enter their destination into an app using a mapping program like Google Maps. Once the user begins walking around, the shoe or insole will vibrate according to which way you are supposed to turn.

Going left? Your left shoe will vibrate, and vice versa.

The shoe also tracks things like the number of steps taken and calories burned.

Lechal footwear.

Screenshot/YouTube

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But the shoes are not just designed for those who have trouble with directions. Ducere Tech hopes that the smart shoes will benefit those with visual impairments.

“The white cane, while an effective aid, falls short with respect to navigation, directions and orientation. Moreover, current assistive devices rely primarily on providing audio feedback,” reads the company’s website.

“People who are visually challenged depend heavily on their sense of hearing to acquaint themselves with the environment and may find audio feedback a major distraction.”

Ducere Tech has partnered with L V Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India, to study the footwear’s effectiveness as an assistive device.

Each time an order is placed for the special edition smart shoes, the company will donate one pair of Lechal shoes to a visually impaired user.

“Through this powerful, intuitive, unobtrusive footwear, LECHAL hopes to provide people who are visually challenged the confidence to independently move around in familiar and unfamiliar areas,” reads the website.

Both the shoes and the insoles will retail for about $100. The company is currently taking preorders on its website and says it will ship internationally.

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CFL Coaching legend Don Matthews passes away – Winnipeg

Former B.C. Lions head coach Don Matthews rubs his head after taking off his hat while being inducted into the CFL football team\’s Wall of Fame during halftime of the team\’s game against the Edmonton Eskimos in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday July 20, 2013. The Montreal Alouettes are bringing back Matthews and adding Turk Schonert as consultants to their coaching staff. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

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The Canadian Football League has lost a coaching legend with Wednesday’s passing of Don Matthews. The 77 year old from Amesbury, Massachusetts died in Beaverton, Oregon according to the Toronto Argonauts.

The CFL released a statement, describing Matthews as a leader of some of the league’s greatest players and teams, and a mentor to many current coaches. “Upon hearing of the passing of Don Matthews, the Canadian Football League family is both deeply saddened by this loss and grateful for his many contributions to our league. The Don, as he was known, was one of a kind. He was a charismatic star that loved to spar with the media at the same time he commanded the spotlight.”

“The Don” broke into the CFL as an assistant with the Edmonton Eskimos in 1977 and served as a defensive coordinator on five consecutive Grey Cup Champions from 1978-82. The following season he was hired as the Head Coach of the BC Lions, embarking on a 22 year career with Baltimore, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Toronto, and Montreal that would see him win five more titles to go along with 231 regular season victories and nine Grey Cup appearances. Matthews, a five time winner of the CFL Coach of the Year award, was inducted into the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Heat advisory issued for Edmonton Zone – Edmonton

Watch above: Albertans set a new summer record for electricity demand today, and AHS issued a heat advisory for the Edmonton zone. Laurel Gregory digs into the heat and its impact.

EDMONTON – With temperatures in the Edmonton area expected to climb, Alberta Health Services issued a heat advisory Wednesday morning.

The heat advisory will remain in effect for the next 72 hours, until 11:00 a.m., August 2.

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“We have an Omega High over western Canada,” said Global Edmonton Meteorologist Nicola Crosbie. “It’s called this because the jet stream is shaped like the Greek Omega symbol and it blocks any systems coming in from the west.”

“When we have a blocking high like this, we tend to break records.  Edmonton’s record today is 32.2 [degrees] from 1939.”

“There were 10 temperatures records broken across Alberta on Tuesday.

“Jasper hit 34.4, breaking a 20 year old record,” Crosbie added.

Just before noon, AHS issued the advisory, recommending that everyone in the Edmonton Zone take precautions to protect themselves and their families from the potentially harmful effects of the sun and heat.

The health authority suggests rescheduling outdoor activities to cooler hours of the day, taking breaks from the heat, drinking plenty of water, wearing sunscreen, and keeping covered from direct sunlight.

It also reminds people not to leave any person or pet inside a closed vehicle.

In July alone, Edmonton Humane Society peace officers were called 72 times about pets allegedly left in hot vehicles. Charges are pending in several cases.

Children are especially vulnerable to heat as well.

“Never leave a child in the car unattended,” said Dr. Chris Sikora, Edmonton Zone’s Medical Officer of Health for AHS.

“It’s just not something that should ever happen.”

“Children have a much larger surface area. They lose water much more easily than you or I would, and the little ones won’t be reaching for a glass of water like I might when I’m outside.”

Symptoms of heat stroke include high body temperature, lack of sweat, disorientation, fainting, and unconsciousness.

“Normal activity that may be safe on a cool day might be dangerous in current weather conditions,” said Sikora.

“If you start to feel overheated, stop your activity immediately, seek shade and drink fluids.”

“Seek medical attention immediately for any individual feeling faint,” Sikora added.  “While awaiting medical attention, move the individual to a shaded area, and remove his or her outer clothing and shoes.  You should also wrap the person in a wet towel until medical care is being provided.”

People who are even more vulnerable to heat include children, seniors, individuals with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, outdoor workers, as well as those who are socially isolated.

Albertans can also contact Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).

“Unfortunately, because of the descending air due to high pressure and lack of wind, pollutants get trapped at the surface,” explained Crosbie.  “Air quality also becomes an issue.”

On Wednesday, Environment Canada had Edmonton’s Air Quality Health Index listed as a level 5 (Moderate risk).

Meanwhile, the Alberta Electric System Operator is asking Albertans to reduce power.

Due to the hot weather, low wind and generators being offline, the electricity system is operating at near full capacity, says AESO. It is requesting all Albertans to voluntarily reduce their use of electricity by:

Turning off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances;Minimizing the use of air conditioning by closing blinds, shades or drapes during the hottest part of the day; and,Avoiding the use of major power-consuming equipment such as dishwashers and washers and dryers during the energy conservation period.

When asked if there was any concern of rolling brownouts, a spokesperson for the AESO said “the system is experiencing very high demand, wind is low and two coal plants are out,” but added that there was still a healthy reserve. “At this point we are good but our system controllers are monitoring the system very closely.”

The AESO will be posting updates on 桑拿会所 @theaeso and on its website.

“A cold front is forecast to come through late Thursday, bringing much cooler, unstable weather for the weekend,” Crosbie said.

The City of Edmonton extended public swim hours at select outdoor pools until Friday, Aug. 1, including:

Wednesday, July 30
Oliver Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
Mill Creek Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)

Thursday, July 31
Queen Elizabeth Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
Oliver Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
Mill Creek Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)

Friday, August 1
Fred Broadstock Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
Oliver Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
Mill Creek Outdoor Pool (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)

Follow @Emily_Mertz

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Lunch with private eye Snowdy: Guergis fallout ‘could have been a lot worse’ – National

WATCH ABOVE: Derrick Snowdy talks about the fallout from the Helena Guergis affair.

TORONTO – Derrick Snowdy is the private investigator who was thrust into the public eye during the “busty hookers” scandal allegedly involving former Conservative MP Helena Guergis.

But he’s also a connoisseur of corned beef.

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So when he has the time – when he’s not stuck doing surveillance in his Chevy Tahoe, eating emergency granola while he waits with a Warren Zevon biography – he tries to get to Moe Pancer’s Deli in North York.

An imposing yet gregarious presence in a black Adidas shirt, with a salt-and-pepper goatee and clear blue eyes, Snowdy orders a corned beef sandwich, medium-fatty, with double potato salad, hold the coleslaw, and a jar of Keen’s hot mustard on the side.

He looks at his guest across the table. “She can have my pickle,” he informs the waitress.

A few days earlier, Snowdy had asked if I had a curfew – only slightly worrying, considering we meet at 11 a.m.

But this is how he rolls, never quite knowing.

“Some days you’re shadowing an individual, you’re living their life and their schedule,” says Snowdy, 42, a divorced dad of two who lives in the affluent Toronto suburb of Oakville, Ont.

“You’re at their mercy.”

Snowdy does not focus on politics per se. He’s more interested in “process investigations” involving regulations and oversight – mostly for corporate clients. One of Snowdy’s current cases revolves around rail safety, but a court-ordered injunction prevents him from saying much.

What he doesn’t do is “the typical cheating spouse crap.”

“Half the time what they want is a hit man,” he says, in a tone that suggests he is only half-joking.

On this particular blistering summer’s day, Snowdy will visit a downtown courthouse, witness an ill patient’s dying declaration, and drive by what seems like an endless number of parking lots – including that of Rob Ford’s campaign office.

Some of his tasks are routine private investigator stuff. He’s not above rifling through trash — dumpster diving — to access documents, or trailing someone for days on end.

But he does get caught up in some controversial cases from time to time.

“A lot of people won’t go near certain files because they think that the person they’re investigating is either too connected, too powerful,” Snowdy says.

“I’ve never let that stop me.”

Derrick Snowdy poses with his Chevy Tahoe in downtown Toronto. (Laura Stone/Global News)

‘Extremely troubling circumstances’

It has been more than four years since the Guergis affair, which involved unconfirmed allegations of fraud, cocaine and prostitutes.

The RCMP investigated and found no wrongdoing, but not before Guergis was forced to resign from the Tory caucus. She ran as an independent in 2011 but lost her southwestern Ontario seat to Conservative Kellie Leitch.

Guergis has called the allegations “absolutely false.”

Snowdy became involved because he was investigating Nazim Gillani, who had business ties to Guergis’ husband, former MP Rahim Jaffer. A Toronto Star investigation documented their relationship, including allegations made by Gillani that Jaffer had claimed to “open up the Prime Minister’s Office” – a claim Jaffer later denied.

A card-carrying Conservative, Snowdy contacted the party’s lawyer Arthur Hamilton about Guergis.

“I knew a couple hours before anybody else did that (Guergis) was resigning,” Snowdy claims. He assures he’s never accepted a cheque from a political party.

“It’s been a very surreal journey, the story that just won’t go away.”

Hamilton later told police there was an apparent video of Guergis snorting cocaine off the breasts of a prostitute.

Snowdy says that particular detail was the result of “broken telephone.”

He says he spoke with Hamilton and their “careful conversation” led to the possibility of a video of Jaffer, Guergis and Gillani together at Sassafraz restaurant in Toronto’s tony Yorkville neighbourhood.

But Snowdy says he never confirmed to Hamilton such a video existed.

“I finally said, ‘Look, if you want me to assure you that nobody has a video of her doing rails of blow off some hooker’s tit, I can’t guarantee you that doesn’t exist,’” Snowdy says.

“And that’s how the conversation got started.”

Snowdy later testified at a Parliamentary committee he had no evidence or information about Guergis.

Guergis’ lawyer, Stephen Victor, said in an email he would not be responding to this story. Hamilton did not return request for comment.

In 2012, Guergis sued Snowdy, Hamilton, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, among others.

The lawsuit originally alleged defamation, conspiracy, infliction of mental suffering and negligence.

In court, Harper’s lawyer called Guergis’ claim “gibberish” and “a fiction.” The claim against Harper and the Conservative party was quashed by the Ontario Court of Appeal in June 2013.

Guergis has since dropped all but Hamilton, his law firm Cassels Brock and Heritage Minister Shelly Glover from the lawsuit.

(Guergis claims Hamilton breached solicitor-client privilege, and that Glover defamed her. None of the allegations has been proven in court.)

Hamilton and Cassel Brock’s lawyer, Paul Le Vay, did not respond to a request for comment, but told the Ottawa Citizen that the suit is without merit and his client will continue to vigorously defend the matter.

For his part, Snowdy says he’s “really disappointed” Guergis decided not to pursue legal action against him.

“I always knew it was never going to go anywhere. The truth of what transpired is wildly unpalatable to most people,” he says.

He claims the RCMP only investigated a small window of allegations regarding Jaffer and Guergis. He says there are still questions about the nature of business transactions allegedly conducted by Jaffer in Guergis’ office, as well as dealings in China that Snowdy documented in court in 2012.

A lawyer who previously represented Jaffer did not immediately respond to an email from Global News.

Jaffer has denied lobbying the government on behalf of his company, using parliamentary perks for business or doing illegal drugs.

Nevertheless, Snowdy maintains Guergis is lucky.

“There were extremely troubling circumstances, and I think (Guergis) should be grateful the way it ended up the way it did. It could have been a lot worse,” Snowdy says.

What else is there?

“There’s lots,” he laughs.

Snowdy in Guinea-Bissau in 2010 outside the presidential palace where Joao Bernardo Vieira was killed. (Handout/Derrick Snowdy)

Derrick Snowdy

Bouncing back from bankruptcy

At the request of one of Snowdy’s clients, we’re driving through the parking lot of Rob Ford’s campaign office, located in a strip mall in Scarborough, looking for a yellow convertible.

But Snowdy doesn’t see it. So we do the next logical thing.

“Want to stop and get a bobblehead doll?”

The sparse office is decorated with Ford Nation paraphernalia, and a boy of about 10 is working the phones.

A volunteer asks for Snowdy’s name and address.

“Kevin Robinson,” he replies, without hesitation. “2345 Enfield Pl., Mississauga, L4Y 3Y9.” He adds something about us getting away “from the kids.”

Snowdy remembers all of his aliases – some one-offs, others part of a more consistent identity.

“If I’m ever asked, a month from now, what was the information I gave, I can tell you exactly who it is. Even though I’ve never used that name before and I never will,” he says.

“I can drum it off like that, because I now associate those details with that address.”

Born in Germany to a father in the air force, Snowdy lived in six provinces by the time he was 16. He also has Indian status through Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec, even though he’s never set foot on the territory.

He credits his nomadic upbringing as his inspiration to investigate. “I liked pulling the stuff apart,” he says.

Snowdy got his start in the security business more than 20 years ago, working jobs in the entertainment industry, personal protection and transporting valuable goods.

“We spent a lot of hours on the road late at night, nothing but my stereo and my gun.”

His work has taken him to Beirut, Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, Bahamas and Jamaica. He once worked security for a building on Church Street in Toronto, where he says he met Luka Magnotta. The accused killer filed numerous police reports about being stalked – using unique sets of handwriting.

Snowdy went on to run a large national security company. But it went bust in 2007 after a dispute between Snowdy and his former business partner. Both have sued and counter-sued.

In 2009, Snowdy filed for personal bankruptcy with more than $13.3 million in liabilities. The bulk of Snowdy’s bankruptcy filing consisted of an $11 million lawsuit from his former partner, as well as $2 million owed to the Canadian Revenue Agency, which Snowdy claims he didn’t know was missing.

He now has a soft spot for fraud cases, offering his services for a reduced price, or for free. “I take that personally,” he says.

Snowdy’s bankruptcy filing came to light as the Guergis affair blew up. His private life crumbled.

“The marriage took a beating over the Guergis thing and pretty much finalized it. That was kind of the final straw,” he says. He has a daughter, 7, and four-year-old son.

He seems to revel in the attention the Guergis case has brought him, even as he rebuffs it. “I’m staying out of it. My name was nowhere near it and it really did have nothing to do with me.”

Snowdy now runs a small company with a handful of people, but refuses to divulge its name. He keeps all his files in a storage locker.

“I don’t need to go looking for clients. I’m very particular when it comes to whom I work for.”

(An Ontario ministry of community safety and correctional services spokesman confirmed Snowdy has a private investigator’s licence “in good standing.”)

He doesn’t regret how things turned out for him.

No longer at the helm of a national company with hundreds of employees and major clients, Snowdy is back doing what he loves – driving around town, checking out leads, filling up on corned beef when he has the time.

“I have no desire to ever have a big company. Never. Never never never. You get away from the thing that you love doing just to run the day-to-day business. You lose yourself,” he says, as he weaves through the streets of downtown Toronto.

“I like the chase. I like the hunt. I like the game.”

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Canada’s Benfeito, Filion win synchro diving gold

EDINBURGH – Meaghan Benfeito couldn’t hide her disappointment.

The Canadian diver had just made a critical mistake on her and partner Roseline Filion’s fourth attempt in the women’s synchronized 10-metre platform final at the Commonwealth Games – an error that left their medal hopes hanging in the balance.

But instead of dwelling on the flubbed back 3 1/2 somersault, Benfeito gathered herself in hopes of still securing a top-three finish.

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“There’s still another dive left. I know how to do all my dives properly,” said 25-year-old. “I think our last dive is our strongest one and I knew if we nailed it we could get on the podium.”

And nail it they did.

READ MORE: Tremblay wins Canada’s 3rd wrestling gold at Commonwealth Games

Benfeito and Filion produced a textbook back 2 1/2 somersault with 1 1/2 twists to not only get on the podium Wednesday, but win a gold medal that seemed improbable just minutes earlier.

“I wasn’t expecting to come out of this with a gold,” said Benfeito. “I knew that we were still in the hunt for a medal. Gold, I didn’t think so, but our last dive is a strong dive and it’s the reason it’s our last dive.

“We did it pretty well and we’re happy with the result.”

Montreal’s Benfeito and Filion, of Laval, Que., scored a total of 310.65 points, just ahead of England’s Sarah Barrow and Tonia Couch with 307.92. Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong Pamg and Nur Dhabitah Sabri took bronze with a score of 300.12.

Benfeito and Filion were awarded 76.80 points on their final dive, but the 2012 Olympic bronze medallists could only wait for the leaders’ final attempts.

When Barrow and Couch tallied just 70.08 on the same dive, the Canadians knew they had pulled out the tricky event that was delayed by 35 minutes due to a technical glitch that forced judges to display scores using flip cards.

“It was tough for everyone,” said Filion. “I knew it was going to be close, but I didn’t expect to win at all.”

The 27-year-old has partnered with Benfeito for more than a decade and said they weren’t affected by the late start.

“We were prepared for all these kinds of problems,” said Filion. “Our team manager said in a meeting ‘You never know what’s going to happen. Be prepared, be ready.’

“We could wait the amount of time it took. We were there to compete and dive and that’s what we did.”

Wednesday marked the first of four competition days at the cosy Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh, about a 75-kilometre drive from Glasgow.

Laval’s Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware of Beloeil, Que., were set to take part in the women’s synchronized three-metre springboard final later Wednesday.

The 22-year-old Abel was a bronze medallist in three-metre synchro at the 2012 Olympics with former partner Emilie Heymans, and again at last year’s world championships with the 21-year-old Ware.

Abel won gold in the one- and three-metre individual events – as well as a silver with Heymans in the three-metre synchro – at the Commonwealth Games four years ago in New Delhi.

Benfeito and Filion’s come-from-behind victory capped an impressive season for the pair, who finished 2014 with a podium appearance in each of their eight international events.

But even with a gold medal hanging around her neck, Benfeito was still kicking herself for her miss on the fourth attempt.

“It’s a dive that causes me a lot of problems, but it’s usually good in synchro,” she said. “I am disappointed that I missed because we could have won by a lot more, but it happens.

“It’s in the past. You’ve got to move on, you’ve got to do another really good dive and that’s what we did.”

Benfeito and Filion won silver in 10-metre syncho at last year’s world championships, and will compete in the individual 10-metre event here as veterans on a young Canadian team that has seen a number of retirements in recent years, including Alexandre Despatie.

“It’s so weird because we used to be the babies on the team,” said Filion. “It’s interesting for me because I get to give a little bit of advice, when I used to get all the advice.”

Added Benfeito: “The transition has been really easy so I think that makes the team even stronger.”

What the young Canadian divers here in Scotland learned on Wednesday from their now-veteran teammates was simple.

“Anything can happen and it’s definitely not over until the last dive,” said Benfeito. “You have to give everything you can until the end.”

©2014The Canadian Press

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IWK hospital banks on scanning system to track breast milk – Halifax

HALIFAX – The IWK Health Centre recently unveiled a new scanning system it hopes will allow for better tracking and storage of breast milk within its facilities — the first such system in Atlantic Canada.

The $100,000 system uses barcodes and scanning devices to help nurses and milk technicians ensure breast milk is properly received, store and prepared.

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After moms express breast milk (collect it for future use), it’s stored in bottles, which are labeled with a barcode. The bottles are then stored in either the milk fridge or freezer.

Milk technicians are responsible for dividing the breast milk into various portions for the baby, and sometimes additives or electrolytes are added.

The breast milk and a barcode on the baby are scanned to ensure they are a match, and nurses also visually double-check the labels with the mother. Only when the system reveals the barcodes are identical does the baby get fed.

Darlene Inglis, the manager of the NICU at the IWK, said the hospital decided to bring in the system due to the rise in breastfeeding.

“Our volumes [of breast milk] have increased a great deal — just the sheer volume of utilizing breast milk in this way, and to safely handle, store and inventory it was really important,” she said.

Inglis said there have been a few times in the past where a baby received breast milk from the wrong mother.

“We’ve had a couple of adverse events like that in the last few years. It is rare, but on average, probably about once a year,” she said.

Milk technician Lindsay Kraitberg said the new system is streamlining her work.

“It makes tracking the breast milk and preparing the breast milk just really easy,” she said.

“When I want to find a certain bottle for a baby, I can just select the name and it tells me where those bottles are, so whether it’s in the milk room fridge or freezer or maybe it’s in the NICU [Neonatal Intensive Care Unit].”

Inglis said the system also eliminates the possibility of breast milk getting left behind at the hospital once the baby is discharged.

Mother Jennifer Greenough of Lower Sackville describes the new system as comforting. Greenough’s daughter Quinn was born about three months premature and is still in the NICU.

Every three hours, Greenough uses a breast pumping machine and fills bottles with breast milk for her daughter.

“It gives me a sense of security,” she said. “I see them scan [the label] at her bedside. When the nurses scan it, they get me to check the label with them to make sure it’s the correct number, that it is my name and that [Quinn] is my baby.”

Greenough said that she has a lot on her mind with a baby in the NICU but the breast milk tracking system gives her one less thing to worry about.

“[The doctors and nurses] are letting me see them scan it and they’re double checking it with me. It makes me feel involved and it gives me that extra sense of security,” she said.

“What this tells me is they’re paying attention. When you have a baby in the NICU, you don’t want any mistakes.”

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