OTTAWA - A political mastermind behind Stephen Harper's Conservative government made the gruesome discovery of a human foot belonging to a torso found in Montreal.
"I'm fine," Jenni Byrne told The Canadian Press on Wednesday as new details emerged about a crime that's horrified the capital and has some shaking their heads about the political vibe in the country.
The foot arrived via mail at Conservative party headquarters on Tuesday and later in the day police found a second package containing a hand. They confirmed Wednesday that package was addressed to the Liberal party, though never reached its destination.
Both body parts have now been linked to a torso found in Montreal and police are tracking a suspect in the case.
Byrne had been handed the suspicious-looking box when it arrived at Conservative party headquarters just blocks from Parliament Hill on Tuesday morning.
Though it was addressed to the party, Byrne is one of the most senior staffers there, having been the national campaign manager for the 2011 general election.
She examined the blood-stained box and as she opened it, a foul odour escaped and overcame the office.
"It was such a horrible odour, I'm sure many of us will not forget it," said party spokesman Fred DeLorey.
Police were immediately called and when they opened the package further, determined that a foot lay inside.
The disturbing find set off a major investigation that went well into the night as Ottawa police later found a hand at the Canada Post mail facility in the east end of the city.
Liberal party officials and MPs said they weren't informed they were the intended recipient.
"The police will do their investigation and we have no comment," Liberal MP Ralph Goodale said.
Both packages were mailed from Montreal, police said.
There, police had been grappling with a grisly find of their own — a human torso found stuffed into a suitcase in a west-end neighbourhood.
They named a suspect in the case Wednesday afternoon.
"The suspect and victim knew each other," Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere told reporters.
"It isn't linked to organized crime."
Canada Post officials refused repeated requests for comment on the incidents or even information on mail security in the nation's capital.
On Parliament Hill, political staffers were keeping a close eye on the mail, rattled by the incident.
"For us, certainly, we've advised our team, our staff in the office, to be careful in the next few days because it's a real concern," said NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen.
His party also rose in the House of Commons to extend their sympathies to the staff at Conservative offices and to Canada Post employees.
"They were both victims of an outrageous and reprehensible act," NDP MP Randall Garrison said.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said there is more to the incidents than just their bizarre nature.
"Behind it is a human tragedy and we should all reflect on that this is a terrible crime has been committed," Rae said.
When asked if he thought the packages were sent with political motives, another NDP MP suggested the incident could be an upsetting reflection on the times.
"It could be just one crazy person that did it but at the same time we have lots of people unhappy in our country, the way the country is going," said Yvon Godin, adding he hoped that wasn't the reason the packages were sent.
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau said he hoped the incident didn't having a chill effect.
"I'm worried about anything that might cause us to pull back or put up any barriers between Canadians and their representatives," he said.
Conservative Public Safety Minister Vic Toews called the incident a "very disturbing development" but wouldn't comment on whether security for MPs had been beefed up as a result.
It was not clear whether there was a political motive behind the packages, but Toews was the target of public attacks earlier this year following his introduction of an online surveillance bill.
A House of Commons committee later found his privileges as an MP were violated when he was threatened by the activist group Anonymous in a series of videos posted online.
- With files from Canadian Press reporters Peter Rakobowchuk and Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal