Envelopes with white powder found at Canadian offices

AP News
Posted: Mar 05, 2015 3:23 PM

TORONTO (AP) — Authorities in Quebec launched an investigation after envelopes containing a suspicious white powder were found Thursday in the district offices of at least two Canadian cabinet ministers. It wasn't immediately clear what the powder was and whether it posed a hazard.

Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel's office in the city of Roberval was evacuated Thursday morning after an employee found white powder in an envelope. Two employees who came into contact with the powder remain quarantined in the office as firefighters analyzed the scene.

Another envelope containing white powder was found in International Development Minister Christian Paradis' office in the town of Thetford Mines. Police spokeswoman Anne Gilbert said the person who came into contact with the substance was taken to the hospital, presumably for testing.

The chief of staff of cabinet minister Maxime Bernier said a third suspicious envelope was found in Bernier's office in Saint-Georges, south of Quebec City. That envelope was placed in a plastic bag and handed over to provincial police. Police wouldn't say if the envelope found in Bernier's office was opened or how they knew it contained a suspicious substance.

Provincial police spokesman Richard Gagne refused to say if written messages were included in any of the three envelopes.

Michele-Jamali Paquette, a spokeswoman for Lebel, said Lebel has canceled his engagements and is on his way to Roberval.

"These actions are taken very seriously," Lebel said in a statement. "The safety of Canadians is a priority for our government. There can be no doubt that we will not be intimidated."