WATCH: Manitoba Moose Austen Brassard shows his musical talents

WINNIPEG – When Manitoba Moose forward Austen Brassard isn’t picking corners, he’s picking strings. If it’s not a hockey stick in his hand, it’s probably a guitar which he first picked up at the age of 12.

“I started with piano when I was younger and then kinda got out of it.” said Brassard. “I wanted something a little cooler I guess so I chose guitar.”

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It’s usually classic rock that strikes a chord for Brassard with an old Stevie Ray Vaughn DVD helping unearth his talent in his youth. And his musical talent has since turned into a collection.

“I have my electric, I have this acoustic, I have a couple other acoustics and like some cheaper electrics.” Brassard said. “Quite a few amps. I have a Fender twin reverb I think it is. I haven’t played it in a while but I have a pretty good collection.”

While you won’t catch him singing, he has done a couple small shows in the past and used to jam with now former Moose teammate Jay Harrison. But the Winnipeg Jets broke up the band by trading Harrison to the Chicago Blackhawks.

“I’m not like the guy playing, singing and stuff at the party.” said Brassard. “I just like to do it on my own, just to relax.”

The Jets 5th round draft pick in 2011 has 13 goals and 17 assists in 61 games this season. Hockey was his first love but the music has been a way to get his mind off the game.

“Hockey has always been number one, but music has been something to do on the side.” Brassard said. “Hockey is pretty big grind. You’re tired a lot. It’s a lot of physical stress so to just relax and play guitar and learn a couple new tunes, or just chill out is a nice thing to do.”

But with the Moose headed back on the road this weekend Brassard will go from shredding his guitar, back to shredding goalies.

WATCH: Manitoba Moose Austen Brassard shows his musical talents

Key forensic evidence introduced in Ryan Lane murder trial

CALGARY – A jury heard about forensic evidence found in the murder of Calgary father Ryan Lane, in day three of the first-degree murder trial.

The court learned Wednesday, a search of the home where Will Rempel lived with his parents led police to what is now key forensic evidence in the case.

Investigators found the receipt for the sale of a truck to an Airdrie salvage yard; it was sold to one day after Lane disappeared. Police seized the vehicle from Rainbow Salvage.

Possible blood stains found in Sheena Cuthill’s Jeep are now among several key pieces of forensic evidence in Ryan Lane murder trial.

Court evidence

Will Rempel’s jacket, where receipt for sale of truck found to Rainbow Salvage was found.

Court evidence

Receipt for sale of Will Rempel’s truck found to Rainbow Salvage in Airdrie.

Court evidence

Will Rempel’s truck found at Rainbow Salvage in Airdrie.

Court evidence

Possible blood stains found in Will Rempel’s truck.

Court evidence

Possible blood stains found in Will Rempel’s vehicle.

Court evidence

There were several stains found inside the Rempel’s truck and Sheena Cuthill’s Jeep. Samples from both were sent to a lab for DNA testing.

The jury has not yet heard the results of those tests.

Cuthill, her husband, Tim Rempel, and his brother Will Rempel are charged with the kidnapping and killing of Lane.

Timothy Rempel, Sheena Cuthill and Wilhelm Rempel are charged with the murder of 24 year old Ryan Lane who went missing in February 2012.

Global News

Lane disappeared on Feb. 6, 2012, after getting a mysterious call from someone asking him to meet about custody of the daughter Lane fathered with Cuthill.

Police said they believed Ryan Lane was killed while embroiled in a custody dispute.

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The Crown’s theory is that Will and Tim Rempel lured Lane to meet them, kidnapped and killed him, then sold the truck used in the offence.

Court heard Lane was recently granted visitation to the little girl.

The prosecution alleges that was the motive for the murder.

The jury trial is scheduled for six weeks.

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Penticton man faces insurance issues after losing custom-made home in fire

PENTICTON —; Rudi Krause, 79, is trying to move on from the despair of losing his dream home.

Last summer, the custom-made home he was building with his own two hands was destroyed in a fire.

READ MORE: “It was a part of me”: senior describes heartbreak after losing custom-made home

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The cause of the fire was undetermined but Krause says he has reason to believe it was arson because he found large rocks in the living room area, suggesting someone had broken in.

“That’s constantly on my mind: who did it, who burned it down?”

Now, from one nightmare to the next, Krause says his insurance company employee let him down.

“I felt that all along it was sloppy workmanship on her part,” says Krause.

When he first started the project eight years ago, Krause was building a storage barn.

But then the project took a life of its own and he was slowly building his dream home.

Despite repeatedly telling the insurers of the progress that it was now a house and not a farm building, the policy was never changed.

“Every year when I went in, I told her, ‘It’s not a storage barn anymore.’”

Krause says he asked the insurance broker to visit and appraise the home, but she never did.

“She did not do her job right and my part is, I should’ve insisted more right away, but one day I thought she would come up.”

Krause was compensated $130,000, but argues that’s only a fraction of what would have received had that insurer changed his policy.

Now he’s cautioning others.

“Promises are no good, have it on paper.”

Krause says the insurance company is now ignoring him and all he wants is to sit down with them and find a new resolution.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has these home insurance tips:

•Insure for rebuilding costs. – get an estimator to calculate the cost of rebuilding your house, so you aren’t undervaluing your home and thus underinsuring it.

•Confirm accurate replacement value. – getting Guaranteed Replacement Cost Coverage ensures the replacement value of your property will not be reduced, even if your property value depreciates.

•Review your home inventory each year when you renew your policy. – take photos/video of your belongings, keep receipts, bills, warranties, instruction manuals etc. all as proof of ownership. Keep them somewhere safe, other than your home.

•For high-value jewellery or fine art, consider a separate policy – coverage for these items under home insurance is typically limited.

Lawsuits launched over Okanagan ski resort chair lift accident

WEST KELOWNA – Two Okanagan residents are suing Crystal Mountain Resorts Ltd. over injuries they suffered when the ski lift they were riding malfunctioned two years ago.

Several people were hurt when four chairs on the Blue Chairlift plunged to the ground on March 1st 2014 after the carriage support cable fell off tower equipment.

West Kelowna resident Lawrence Waldenberger claims the resort was negligent in ensuring lift passengers would be reasonably safe.

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Waldenberger alleges Crystal Mountain did not comply with safety requirements for the installation and operation of the lift, including failing to provide any reasonable maintenance system.

It’s also claimed the towers were not installed in accordance with the original design from 1967 and the company failed to rectify the “chair swing issue” which was allegedly abnormal and excessive.

Waldenberger says he suffered almost 30 effects and injuries including traumatic brain injury, multiple broken ribs and major depression.

In a separate lawsuit, Kelowna resident Meagan Harvey makes similar negligence claims against Crystal Mountain Resorts.

They include exposing the lift counterweight to contamination and failing to understand the elements of the tensioning system.

Harvey says she suffered numerous injuries and fractures, including a broken back, that left her with chronic, ongoing pain.

Both plaintiffs are seeking unspecified compensation for pain and suffering, loss of real and prospective earnings and future care costs.

Crystal Mountain has not yet responded to Waldenberger’s lawsuit.

But in its court filed response to the whole of Harvey’s Civil Claim the company states: “Crystal Mountain denies that the Incident was caused or contributed to in any manner by the negligence of Crystal Mountain and further denies that it was in breach of any statutory of other duty of care owed to the Plaintiff.”

The ski hill operations were closed after the incident and have not reopened.

More Canadian troops sent to Eastern Europe on training mission

OTTAWA – A fresh contingent of Canadian troops has arrived in eastern Europe to take part in NATO exercises meant to reassure jittery allies and the deployment follows a spike in violence between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.

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More than 100 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, the Royal 22e Regiment of Valcartier, Que., will conduct training in Poland and Romania – far from the eastern front lines – and are separate from a U.S-led training mission in western Ukraine.

Senior American officials have expressed “deep concern” about the number of ceasefire violations reported by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in breakaway regions of Ukraine.

READ MORE: Canada asked to help train new Ukrainian cops

The Canadian commander, Maj. Eric Beauchamp, says his troops don’t necessarily feel the tension, but they get a clear sense eastern European soldiers are happy to see them.

“Even if we are a small detachment that is going to train with them, they appreciate this and they want the world to know we are there,” he said in a recent interview with .

“Because of the tension, the effect we have here is really tangible and we see it.”

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and his parliamentary secretary, Liberal MP John McKay, are in the region this week, meeting officials in Ukraine, Germany and Poland.

WATCH: 1.5 million people displaced in Ukraine suffering from poor living conditions

The trip is seen as a political reassurance mission on top of the military contribution.

READ MORE: Over 9,000 people killed in 21 months of Ukraine fighting

In a conference call from Germany late Wednesday, Sajjan said that Russia’s partial withdrawl from Syria will not mean a softening of Canadian policy – or sanctions imposed in the wake of the annexation of Crimea, which began two years ago Wednesday.

“Our support for Ukraine remains solid,” he said.

“I’m hopeful – as I mentioned to my counterparts in Ukraine – that Mr. Putin would make a similar statement about withdrawing troops from Ukraine.”

The war in that part of the world has largely slipped from the headlines in many western countries, replaced by daily accounts of the conflict with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

READ MORE: Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the West: The next Cold War?

Russia’s annexation of Crimea was followed a few months later by an uprising in two eastern Ukrainian districts, known as oblasts.

That set off a wave of sanctions from western governments and fears among eastern European countries that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions would not stop at the Ukraine border. Many of those countries are new members of NATO, who would demand help should their territory be violated.

Last year, the U.S.-based Pew Research Centre conducted an exhaustive public opinion study among the military alliance’s member nations.

While many see Russia as a military threat, there is a general reluctance to send military aid to Ukraine. Even more significant, the study found at least half of Germans, French and Italians say their country should not use military force to defend a NATO ally attacked by Russia.

“Americans and Canadians are the only publics where more than half think their country should use military action if Russia attacks a fellow NATO member (56 per cent and 53 per cent respectively),” said the study published on June 10, 2015.

The report also said that NATO members were more receptive to sending economic, rather military aid to Ukraine.

Sajjan said the issue of sending lethal aid to Ukraine did not come up in his meetings with officials.

Saskatoon team prepping for TV appearance on ABC’s BattleBots

SASKATOON – A seven-person team is planning to take 250 pounds of steel and power from Saskatoon to Los Angeles for one of the world’s biggest robot combat competitions. The Eh Team will be one of three Canadian groups fighting in the upcoming season of BattleBots.

The show made its debut in 2000, gaining popularity for its clashes between weapon-wielding robots . The success was short-lived and the show was cancelled in 2002.

“A number of us have really been fans of BattleBots ever since we were kids,” said Julia Chernushevich, one of the members of The Eh Team.

When ABC resurrected the show in 2015, Chernushevich and some of her co-workers decided to use their experience to enter a robot. Six of the seven members of The Eh Team work at Prairie Machine & Parts in Saskatoon, designing electrical vehicles and mining equipment.

They spent 40 hours a week at their normal job and another 48 hours designing the robot they call ‘Bucktooth Burl.’

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    “It’s a 250 pound destructive machine and it’s meant to look like a beaver, mostly because we’re a Canadian team and we want to get the whole ‘Canada’s going to kick butt’ [message] across,” Chernushevich said.

    “We want it to look kind of furry and adorable, but then really have that feisty, fearsome look to it.”

    The steel-frame bot will feature a drum weapon with a series of blades spinning at 2800 RPM. Bucktooth Burl runs on two drive motors, four batteries to power its weapon and two batteries to allow movement.

    READ MORE: Microbots pull 1,800-kilogram car

    Even with several sponsorships and donated materials, the robot has cost approximately $10,000 to create.

    All the work is happening in Patric Byrns’ garage.

    “We’re all going to be pretty invested in this thing – the amount of hours designing it and building it. It will be destroyed I’m sure,” Byrns said.

    Bucktooth Burl and the other 55 BattleBots competitors do battle next month. The show is scheduled to appear on ABC this summer. The other Canadian robots taking part in the competition are “All Black Robotics” from Ontario and MBS Robotics” from Alberta.

‘Take the child to the ER right away’: Naturopathic doctor testifies at meningitis trial

LETHBRIDGE – Three doctors testified Wednesday during the trial of David and Collet Stephan. The couple is charged with failing to provide the necessities of life. Their 18-month-old son Ezekiel died from meningitis in March 2012.

David and his wife Collet have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

READ MORE: Jury trial begins for southern Alberta parents accused in toddler’s death from meningitis 

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    Viral meningitis on the rise in Alberta

    The first doctor to testify Wednesday was Barbara Ross, a pediatrician from the Calgary Children’s Hospital. Ross reviewed the ambulance log and said when Ezekiel was picked up by paramedics he was dead.

    “There was no heart beat, no blood pressure,” Ross explained. “He was clinically dead.”

    The medical examiner who testified last week said baby Ezekiel was brain dead when EMS met up with the couple – who had started driving to meet the ambulance because the toddler stopped breathing. Medical examiner Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo told the court the brain acts differently when it has a lack of oxygen, compared to when it’s reacting to meningitis.

    READ MORE: Autopsy confirmed 18-month-old Alberta boy died of meningitis, medical examiner testifies 

    Later Wednesday, Dr. Tracey Tannis, a Naturopathic doctor at the Lethbridge Naturopathic Medical Clinic, testified.

    She said on March 13, 2012 her secretary took a phone call from a woman concerned about her young son. She testified the woman told her that she had a friend who was a nurse with her and she was concerned about viral meningitis. Tannis told her secretary: ‘You need to tell her to take the child to the ER right away.’”

    Tannis testified that the next day a woman came into her clinic and asked for an over-the-counter echinacea treatment for her son who was almost two. Tannis told the court she didn’t know if the woman was the same one who called the day before.

    Dr. Frederick Cunningham a physician from Cardston was the third witness to testify Wednesday afternoon. He was called into the ER the night of March 13 when Ezekiel was brought into the Cardston Hospital by EMS.

    When the toddler came in, Cunningham said he was paged by another doctor to help with airway management to ensure his brain and lungs were receiving oxygen. He explained that he immediately put in a second tracheal tube when he saw the child, removing the one EMS first put in, to help maximize his airway.

    Cunningham told the court when the plan was established to transfer Ezekiel to the Alberta Children’s Hospital, he remained with the toddler from Cardston until he was airlifted by STARS at Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge.

    He said Ezekiel remained non-responsive the entire time, as the severity of his condition remained the same from Cardston to Lethbridge.

    On Thursday the doctor who first saw the child when EMS brought him to the ER in Cardston will testify, along with the paramedic and 911 dispatchers.

    The trial was originally scheduled to wrap up next week but the judge now says it may take longer.

Baie d’Urfé man receives St. Patrick’s community honour

BAIE-D’URFÉ – After a a life that’s lasted almost a century, Andrew Fogarty has had a lot of opportunities for volunteerism – and he seems to have taken most of them.

Fogarty was recently given the St. Patrick Society’s Community Award – not for green pants or socks (though he was wearing those when Global News spoke to him), but for a lifetime of community service.

“You take things one by one, and you feel good about what you’re doing,” he said.

“But you never think ‘man, I win an award.’ It doesn’t enter your mind.”  

Many community organizations have recognized him.

He’s been named both the grand marshal of Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the chief reviewing officer.

Only one is named each year and a person can only receive the honour once.

He’s set to receive his most recent honour at a luncheon Thursday morning.

His one regret is that his wife of almost 65 years won’t be there with him.

She died of complications from a stroke in 2011.

“It still hits me every now and then. She was so wholesome and beautiful,” he said.

She was part of the reason why – when he was president of the St. Patrick’s Society – he pushed to change the rules to allow women into the organization.

He plans to incorporate her in his remarks Thursday.

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Layoff protection offered by Alberta condo project to increase sales

For the first time in a generation, new Alberta condos and homes sit ready and waiting for buyers to move in.

It’s a big shift in the market and has builders like Calgary’s Carlisle Group thinking creatively about who to get customers into a show suite.

“That’s the number one challenge… just getting people out of their home, reading all the doom and gloom,” Jim Bryce of the builder said.

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    It’s why the longtime developer is offering what it calls the job security guarantee – essentially, it’s layoff insurance.

    Buyers fearful of losing their job buy some piece with of mind with a condo purchase for the rest of 2016.

    “We will pay your mortgage, up to six months or to maximum of $8,000,” Bryce told Global News. “That includes both your mortgage and condo fees.”

    Incentives are the name of the game right now.

    While prices are stable, the number of sales is way down as unemployment continues to rise in Alberta.

    READ MORE: 4 dos and don’ts of buying your first home

    Wanda Palmer of Trico Homes says it launched its Red Card incentive program last month to attract more customers.

    “The biggest impact for us is consumer confidence,” Palmer said.

    The rebate incentive ranged from $10,000 on a condo purchase to $120,000 on a upscale home valued close to $800,000.

    “They can take it off the purchase price of their home, they can spend it in the design centre, on options and upgrades,” Palmer said. “They could use it for legal fees.”

    Generous offers like these are almost unheard of in Alberta, according to Steve Sedgwick, president of the Realtors Association of Edmonton.

    “Over the last year and half we’ve had a lot of political and economic uncertainty and that’s affecting buyers decisions,” Sedgwick said.

    READ MORE: Housing horror stories: share your worst experiences

    Some wonder why builders simply won’t cut the sticker price on a home, as opposed to offer incentives.

    Builders say they’re simply covering their costs.

    And while construction costs may be down with more availability of trades, some other factors are out of their control.

    “That’s things like the Canadian dollar,” said Palmer. “A lot of the materials that go into our homes are purchased down in the U.S.”

    It’s one more challenge in a real estate waiting game with no end in sight.

    But, some sellers hope sweetening the deal with some extras may get some of their properties sold.

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Kingston family looks to give back 1 year after twin girls’ liver transplants

Watching Binh and Phuoc Wagner bound around the main floor of their Kingston, Ontario home, it’s hard to imagine that just three years ago they were suffering from a life-threatening illness.

The Vietnamese twin sisters live with Alagille Syndrome, a condition that affects their ability to absorb nutrients and stunts their growth. Doctors decided they would need liver transplants to survive.

Michael and Johanne Wagner of Kingston knew that when they adopted the girls and were willing to fight for them.

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After a social media campaign that drew widespread attention and touched hearts, the girls received life-saving liver transplants at Toronto’s Hospital For Sick Children. Phuoc received a piece of her adopted father Michael’s liver, while Binh received part of an anonymous donor’s liver. The family says they still have never met that person.

Meeting the twins Monday, their favourite Disney figurines all but glued to their palms as they smiled and mugged for a Global News camera, the improvements are obvious.

Their parents say all symptoms of liver disease are gone, but there are still some smaller issues to contend with.

“They’re constantly getting little illnesses. Colds, earaches, because they’re immune-suppressed,” says Michael Wagner.

“They seem to just keep catching the same cold, where a normal, healthy person would shed it in the normal period of time and then go on.”

The family takes no risks —; even posting a sign on their front door warning visitors not to come in if they have cold or flu symptoms.

Binh and Phuoc still make quarterly visits to SickKids for tests and checkups and it’s expected they’ll need medication and treatment for the rest of their lives; but the Wagners say this part’s a cakewalk compared to previous years.

Whereas they used to have to feed the girls through tubes connected to their digestive system, Johanne Wagner says now “all of their feeds are by mouth, they’re not fed through the night, they’re absorbing whatever nutrients we give them.”

They say the odd word, and can certainly show their emotions, but the twins are still learning how to talk.

Potty training also takes up a lot of their time these days, as does school. The first day of class back in September was a landmark for the proud parents as they watch their daughters continue to develop.

“They have an educational assistant with them at all times to make sure that they’re okay,” explains their adopted mother.

“Let’s face it, they’re behind their peers, but they love having new friends and they’re slowly catching up. They’re going to be five years old in May and they’re functioning currently at about two years, nine months.”

Binh and Phuoc are two of four special needs kids the Wagners have adopted from Vietnam and the family makes sure to keep their strong connection to the foursome’s birthplace today. Johanne Wagner just got a new job with TDH Ontario, helping families adopt children with special needs from Vietnamese facilities.

The Wagner family has also launched a new GoFundMe campaign attempting to raise $19,000 to buy 85 specially-sized mattresses for Vung Tau Centre, the orphanage from which they adopted five-year-old Toan and seven-year-old Logan Hoang.

Johanne Wagner says the centre’s old location had fallen into disrepair and was deemed unsafe, so the local government recently set them up in a new building.

“The mattresses were in a state of disrepair, so they could not move the mattresses to the new centre… They have the bed frames, but the frames are not… standard size,” she explains.

As a result, and as a picture on the crowdfunding page shows, she says the children there are temporarily sleeping on the floor.

The campaign was launched in January and is still far short of its goal, having received $1,080 as of late Wednesday afternoon.

If they manage to top their goal of $19,000 Johanne says “any additional money collected will be used either towards a synthetic soccer field… or a playground for the disabled children.”

Back at home, the Wagners are thankful every day for the health of all nine of their kids, adopted and biological.

Though one year later, you can forgive them if they still don’t know what to say to the anonymous donor who, like Michael Wagner, saved one of their little girls’ lives.

“I know that person is out there and I know that person knows how I feel,” Johanne Wagner says with a smile.