Two women dispute Clement’s extortion story
Sources tell Toronto Star that attempts to expose MP’s online sexual activities go back to last summer CLEMENT continues // A9
Two women who claim to have had intimate relationships with Tony Clement — one online, one in person — say the ousted Conservative parliamentarian was aware of attempts to expose his allegedly inappropriate behaviour toward women as early as last spring or summer.
These accounts seem to contradict Clement’s initial public statement about when he became aware of an alleged attempt to extort him. They also call into question whether, given his position on Parliament’s new national security committee, he fulfilled his legal obligation at the time to notify the Privy Council Office about whether his personal circumstances changed in a way that could affect his security clearance.
Until Tuesday, Clement was a leading member of the Conservative caucus who had twice jumped into the race to lead the party and served prominent cabinet roles under Stephen Harper.
On Wednesday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer requested Clement’s resignation.
The demand came less than 24 hours after Clement published a statement claiming he was targeted for “financial extortion” after sending sexual images and a video to an unknown party. Clement claims he believed the person was a consenting female adult.
The Star has interviewed two women who say they met Clement online and went on to have sexual interactions with him. Both women, who know each other and consulted about speaking publicly, asked the Star not to publish their names — one out of concern over Clement’s reaction to her speaking publicly about him; the other because she feared ramifications in her professional life.
The Star has agreed to keep their identities confidential to tell their stories in the public interest, as Clement was a senior Conservative figure with high level security clearance.
When presented with a detailed account of the women’s claims Wednesday night, Clement responded by email: “I’m working on a statement that I’ll get to you when I’m comfortable with it. Appreciate it.”
In a statement posted to his personal website Thursday, Clement confirmed he engaged in multiple “inappropriate exchanges that crossed lines that should have never been crossed.” He said these exchanges led to “acts of infidelity.” One of these exchanges led to a woman being offered money by an anonymous social media account in exchange for personal information about him, he said.
He said he reported this to the Ontario Provincial Police “last summer.”
He added that, “most recently, another inappropriate exchange led to foreign actors attempting to use my indiscretion for financial extortion” and that he immediately reported this to the RCMP.
Clement apologized to his wife, family and supporters, as well as to women with whom the exchanges occurred and “anyone else who felt in any way that I crossed online boundaries that made them feel uncomfortable.”
He said he intends to stay on as MP for Parry Sound—Muskoka.
According to the women’s accounts, sometime last spring or summer Clement became aware of Instagram accounts that sent messages about his behaviour toward women, sought information about him, and posted photos of him. The women said Clement separately told them he had reported this online behaviour to police.
This would mean Clement was aware for months that an unknown party was seeking embarrassing information about him before he publicly revealed the extortion allegations.
As a member of Parliament’s new national security committee, Clement was bound by law to notify the Clerk of the Privy Council — the federal government’s top bureaucrat — of “any change in their personal circumstances that may affect their security clearance.”
Examples spelled out in the law include criminal convictions, a change in financial situation, association with criminals and being “the subject of a law enforcement action.”
The Star reported Tuesday that Clement flagged the issue to the Privy Council Office days ago, and that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office was made aware. The RCMP is now investigating Clement’s allegation, but refused to say when the investigation was opened.
Cameron Ahmad, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said Thursday that the PMO learned of the alleged extortion against Clement, after the privy council was informed.
In an email Thursday, Privy Council Office spokesperson Paul Duchesne said the office takes national security matters seriously. He said “when PCO became aware of the situation, we immediately referred the matter to the RCMP and took every precaution necessary to safeguard Canada’s national security.”
He did not say when the PCO first received information about Clement’s situation.
Speaking to reporters in Brampton Thursday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer suggested Clement’s online behaviour was not caught by Canada’s national security agencies as they screened the former cabinet minister for his role on the committee.
“Not only were we not aware of this, but neither were the national security agencies who did the screening for Mr. Clement before he took his place on the committee,” Scheer said. “People are capable of having lapses of judgment, unexpected lapses of judgment. People make mistakes. When those mistakes are brought to light, then people take accountability for it. And organizations and groups with work with them have to make decisions as well. And that’s why I believe that the right course of action was for Tony to respond to these allegations … from outside caucus.”
The first woman who spoke to the Star is in her early twenties. She said Clement added her on Instagram last year and liked some of her photos. He started sending her direct messages, which she said became flirtatious and then overtly sexual. She said they started consensually sharing intimate messages, and he sent her explicit images.
“He would talk dirty to me, then send me nude photos and videos,” she said.
He asked her more than once to meet for coffee or come to his house, but the woman said she made up excuses to avoid going. She never met Clement in the off-line world, she said.
A few months ago — the woman believes it was in June or July — Clement asked her to delete all records of their conversations. She said the MP told her he was concerned his Instagram account was “hacked” and asked her to only speak to him over WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging service. The woman said she agreed with Clement’s request.
Soon after that conversation, she said an unknown user added her on Instagram. She said the account messaged her and alleged Clement engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviour toward women. The woman, who said she didn’t know who was behind the account, took it as a “warning.”
“I was actually kind of scared,” she said. “I’m still wondering how the heck did they find me?”
The woman provided the Star with a screenshot of the message, which does not show the name of the account. The message is dated July 2.
The woman said she told Clement about the message, and he “begged” her to believe the message wasn’t true and that she was the only woman he was interacting with. She said Clement sent her a screenshot of a different Instagram account, @pierson476. She said Clement asked her if she had seen that account on Instagram; she said she hadn’t.
MP Tony Clement