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Envelope with disturbing images and ‘suspected chemical irritant’ sent to N.S. MPs

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A trio of suspicious brown envelopes – at least one containing “disturbing images” and an apparent skin and eye irritant – arrived at three local constituency offices for Conservative Nova Scotia members of Parliament Monday.

Rick Perkins, the Tory member for South Shore-St. Margarets, said the lone staff member at his office in Barrington, N.S. described the envelope as being stuffed thick with papers. When the man opened the package, he saw it was full of “disturbing images” before his eyes and hands began to burn, Perkins said.

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The man rushed to rinse himself off and then called 911, and also called the offices of nearby politicians, including Perkins’ second post in Bridgewater, N.S., about 140 kilometres away. An identical envelope had arrived there too, Perkins said, but staff hadn’t yet opened it.

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“It’s a pretty disturbing thing,” Perkins said in an interview Monday.

“It’s an important warning for everyone who’s in public office right now that they may get something like this.”

Meanwhile, in the nearby town of Yarmouth, N.S., an identical envelope had arrived at the constituency office for Chris d’Entremont, the Conservative member for West Nova.

Isabelle Lapointe, his chief of staff, said Perkins’ office called to warn them just in time, and that envelope wasn’t opened either. She said she’s grateful to Perkins’ staff member for acting so quickly.

“In provinces like Nova Scotia, everybody knows everybody,” Lapointe said in an interview Monday. “So, you know, everybody’s kind enough to double check on each other.”

The RCMP confirmed in a statement Monday evening that officers responded to “reports of a suspicious package containing a suspected chemical irritant” at the Barrington and Yarmouth offices.

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“The investigation is in the very early stages and no further information is available at this time,” said RCMP Staff Sgt. Marc Rose.

A spokesperson with the Bridgewater Police Service confirmed Monday night the force was investigating a suspicious package mailed to Perkins’ office in the town.

As for the staff member at the Barrington office, Perkins said he was taken to hospital for a decontamination shower.

“He’s fine, he’s at home and he’s got rashes and eye irritation,” Perkins said.

The office is in a building that houses the local municipal government and everyone was asked to leave so it could be locked down, he said.

In Ottawa, Perkins said security staff at the House of Commons have alerted all the other members so they can keep an eye out too.

“I would warn them, if it does not have a return address on it, don’t open it,” Perkins said.

Lapointe said the staff at the Yarmouth constituency office are working from home while the investigation proceeds.

She said she’s been in politics for a decade and has seen all kinds of strange things, including envelopes filled with harmful substances. But tensions are running particularly high these days, she noted.

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“With this ongoing pandemic, people are just tired and are more stressed out – everybody’s stressed out,” Lapointe said.

“I just want to make sure that my colleagues are safe,” she said. “Whatever party, the important thing is to make sure that we finally get out of this and no one gets hurt.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2022.

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