Suspicious packages still arriving at Canadian courthouses

Suspicious packages, with postmarks from Asia, continue to arrive at Canadian courthouses, with the latest being found in Nunavut, as police forces continue to investigate.

'It looks like this is being done to create unrest, to create disruption,' security expert says

A hazardous materials team member prepares to enter the courthouse in Sydney, N.S., after a suspicious package was found Wednesday. Similar packages have been arriving at courthouses across Canada. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

Suspicious packages, with postmarks from Asia, continue to arrive at Canadian courthouses, with the latest being found in Nunavut, as police forces continue to investigate.

Authorities have released little information about what's inside the packages.

On Thursday, the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit was evacuated after a suspicious package arrived. Justice officials there have said it could be linked to others across the country.

Another package was also discovered Thursday morning at a post office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L. It was addressed to the provincial court in the Labrador town.

Four suspicious packages were delivered to New Brunswick provincial courthouses in the past two days, in Fredericton, Saint John, Miramichi and Woodstock. Another arrived at the Federal Court in Fredericton, bringing the total to five. They bore Asian postmarks. All were inspected by police and were determined not to contain anything hazardous.

About two dozen packages have now been intercepted en route to or received at courthouses in:

On April 8, packages were received by Manitoba court buildings in Winnipeg, Brandon, Morden and Minnedosa. RCMP tested the contents and have said they contained no dangerous chemicals, but police have not revealed the contents.

On Monday, four front counter workers at the Amherst courthouse in Nova Scotia went to hospital complaining of nausea, dizziness and burning in the throat after an envelope postmarked from Hong Kong arrived. All employees were later released from hospital.

Scare tactic or threat?

The Law Courts building on Upper Water Street in Halifax was evacuated for a short time Tuesday afternoon. Halifax police officers with gas masks carried out a plastic container with an orange item inside.

A day later, several  suspicious packages prompted evacuations at several courthouses, government and office buildings across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Also on Wednesday, Canada Post reported intercepting four suspicious packages destined for courthouses across that provinces with a fifth suspicious package delivered to a courthouse in Sydney, Cape Breton, which was evacuated.

A security expert doesn't believe the return address will lead investigators to whoever is sending the material.

David Hyde, who operates a security management, consulting and training company based in Ontario, told CBC's The St. John's Morning Show on Thursday that it looks like this is being done to create unrest and disruption.

"And obviously it's succeeding to a certain degree," he said.

"Why are we targeting courthouses here? Could somebody have a grievance with the court system somehow?

If the packages are a scare tactic rather than an actual threat, tough decisions will have to be made, Hyde said.

"At what point do we stop evacuating every time a package shows up because we now know we've had 20 of them and they have been benign, although curious, or do we take other steps such as rerouting mail?"


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