Clement out of cau­cus

Con­ser­va­tive leader cites ‘ter­ri­ble de­ci­sion, ex­tremely poor judg­ment’

North Bay Nugget - - OPINION - By mia rab­son — with files from Jim Bron­skill.

ottawa — Long­time Con­ser­va­tive mp Tony Clement was forced out of his party cau­cus Wed­nes­day, the day after he ad­mit­ted to send­ing some­one sex­u­ally ex­plicit images and a video.

he said in a state­ment is­sued Tues­day evening he’d sent the images in the last three weeks to some­one he be­lieved to be a “con­sent­ing fe­male” but who later de­manded money if Clement didn’t want them posted pub­licly.

Ini­tially Clement re­signed only as the party’s jus­tice critic and from his com­mit­tee roles; Con­ser­va­tive Leader an­drew scheer didn’t ask him to leave the party cau­cus. he said he was tak­ing Clement at his word that the “ter­ri­ble lapse in judg­ment” had been a one-time thing be­tween two con­sent­ing adults.

but after the story broke al­le­ga­tions washed over so­cial me­dia, largely from young women, that Clement’s on­line be­hav­iour was not so pure. he’s long been known to be a pro­lific user of so­cial me­dia plat­forms like Twit­ter and In­sta­gram. sev­eral peo­ple on­line Wed­nes­day said that Clement had used In­sta­gram in par­tic­u­lar to con­nect with nu­mer­ous young women and mes­sage them pri­vately. he spent a lot of time click­ing to show he liked their photos.

“New in­for­ma­tion be­came avail­able to­day that sug­gest there are al­le­ga­tions that this is not an iso­lated in­ci­dent and there­fore I’ve asked Tony to re­sign from cau­cus and he has done so,” scheer said later in the day.

he said an in­ter­nal party in­ves­ti­ga­tion hadn’t started but that, or a Par­lia­men­tary one, was not out of the ques­tion.

he said the Con­ser­va­tive party has a code of con­duct for mps that he ex­pects them to fol­low.

“I don’t know that too many peo­ple ... have to be told not to share ex­plicit images and videos with peo­ple that you haven’t met but ob­vi­ously this is a ter­ri­ble de­ci­sion, ex­tremely poor judg­ment,” scheer said.

“We have to wait and see what hap­pens in the short term as to what types of com­plaints are of­fi­cially raised to ob­vi­ously re­spond to that once it hap­pens,” he said. “There is a process on Par­lia­ment hill with the hu­man-re­source of­fi­cer so that is some­thing that could very well hap­pen.”

Clement did not re­spond to nu­mer­ous at­tempts by The Canadian Press to com­ment on the al­le­ga­tions. how­ever in an email to The globe and mail he de­nied ha­rass­ing any­one on so­cial me­dia.

“I would say I like all sorts of pic­tures on In­sta­gram. I’ve never sent un­so­licited ha­rass­ing mes­sages, ever,” Clement wrote.

Clement has also made some posts him­self that in­cluded sex­ual over­tones. he once posted a valen­tine with his own car­i­ca­ture and the words: “hey girl, come lobby this cau­cus mem­ber.” an­other time he pub­licly posted a pic­ture of him­self shirt­less.

once a woman posted a pic­ture on In­sta­gram of a pump bot­tle of hand san­itzer in a lit­tle stand with arms and legs — “how cute is this adorable lit­tle Purell holder!” she cap­tioned it. “I want to hug it and put its liq­uid con­tents on my hands,” Clement replied.

of par­tic­u­lar con­cern in Clement’s case was the risk to na­tional se­cu­rity when an mp with top se­cu­rity clear­ance opened him­self up to an ex­tor­tion at­tempt. Clement was an orig­i­nal mem­ber of the new Na­tional se­cu­rity and In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee of Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, cre­ated in 2017 to over­see na­tional se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence ac­tiv­i­ties car­ried out across the govern­ment.

scheer said both the rcmp and the se­cu­rity of­fi­cials in the Privy Coun­cil of­fice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing to de­ter­mine whether na­tional se­cu­rity had been put at risk. he wouldn’t say whether an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der­way to de­ter­mine if any other mps have been sim­i­larly tar­geted.

ren­nie mar­coux, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the com­mit­tee sec­re­tar­iat, said all mem­bers of the com­mit­tee hold Top se­cret clear­ance and are per­ma­nently bound to se­crecy un­der the se­cu­rity of In­for­ma­tion act.

In his orig­i­nal state­ment Clement said he had ex­er­cised “poor judge­ment” and would be get­ting treat­ment so it wouldn’t hap­pen again. he didn’t spec­ify what sort of treat­ment.

he said he is ex­tremely sorry to put his fam­ily through “need­less pain and hu­mil­i­a­tion.”

Clement is mar­ried to Toronto lawyer and au­thor Lynne gold­ing. They have three grown chil­dren.

gold­ing is­sued a writ­ten state­ment Wed­nes­day to the Parry sound North star.

“as Tony men­tioned in his state­ment, he will now be tak­ing the ac­tion he needs to get help,” she said. “I am hope­ful that in time we will re­sume the happy life we shared with our fam­ily and friends.”

Clement is a well-known mp who has been part of the on­tario and fed­eral con­ser­va­tive par­ties for sev­eral decades, both as an of­fi­cial and an elected MPP and mp. he was a cabi­net min­is­ter at both the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral lev­els. he ran twice for the fed­eral lead­er­ship, los­ing in 2004 and with­draw­ing from the 2017 con­test early to sup­port maxime bernier.

In ad­di­tion to his role on the na­tional se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee, Clement was the vicechair of the house of Com­mons jus­tice com­mit­tee.

Sean Kilpatrick/the CANADIAN PRESS

Con­ser­va­tive MP Tony Clement stands dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod in the House of Com­mons on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ottawa June 12, 2017.

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