Cle­ment ad­mits to mul­ti­ple acts of in­fi­delity

The Prince George Citizen - - News - Jan­ice DICK­SON, Mia RABSON

OT­TAWA — For­mer Con­ser­va­tive MP Tony Cle­ment has had in­ap­pro­pri­ate on­line re­la­tion­ships with more than one woman and went to the po­lice months ago be­cause some­one was try­ing to pay one of the women to of­fer up in­ti­mate de­tails of their ex­changes, he ad­mit­ted Thurs­day.

When Cle­ment told Con­ser­va­tive Party Leader An­drew Scheer last week that he had shared ex­plicit images of him­self on­line in Oc­to­ber and was be­ing ex­torted to pre­vent the images from be­ing re­leased pub­licly, he in­sisted it was an iso­lated in­ci­dent. It was not.

“Dur­ing a pe­riod of per­sonal dif­fi­culty and weak­ness I en­gaged in in­ap­pro­pri­ate ex­changes that crossed lines that should never have been crossed,” Cle­ment wrote Thurs­day in a state­ment to his con­stituents in the On­tario rid­ing of Parry Sound-Muskoka.

Scheer looked grim as he was forced to take time away from a pol­icy an­nounce­ment on crime in Bramp­ton, Ont., to re­spond to the lat­est ad­mis­sions.

“This was a shock to me when I was made aware of the sit­u­a­tion,” said Scheer.

De­spite know­ing for sev­eral months that some­one had been try­ing to dig up dirt on him, Cle­ment con­tin­ued to sit un­til Tues­day on Par­lia­ment’s na­tional-se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee. Mem­bers have top-se­cret clear­ances and can be privy to ex­tremely sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion.

Cle­ment is no longer on that com­mit­tee and the RCMP and the Privy Coun­cil Of­fice

Dur­ing a pe­riod of per­sonal dif­fi­culty and weak­ness I en­gaged in in­ap­pro­pri­ate ex­changes that crossed lines that should never have been crossed.

— Tony Cle­ment

are in­ves­ti­gat­ing pos­si­ble se­cu­rity breaches.

Cle­ment ap­proached Scheer last week to let him know some­one was try­ing to ex­tort him be­cause he’d sent ex­plicit images and a video to some­one he thought was a “con­sent­ing fe­male.” He also asked the RCMP to in­ves­ti­gate.

Thurs­day, Cle­ment said the most re­cent ex­tor­tion at­tempt was by “for­eign ac­tors” but pro­vided noth­ing to ex­plain why he be­lieved that to be the case.

Cle­ment said he wouldn’t com­ment be­yond what was in his state­ment. Scheer said he knew no de­tails of the ex­tor­tion.

Cle­ment re­signed as the Con­ser­va­tive jus­tice critic and from his com­mit­tee as­sign­ments Tues­day night. Wed­nes­day morn­ing, Scheer said Cle­ment would re­main in the Con­ser­va­tive cau­cus be­cause he trusted Cle­ment’s claim that he’d com­mit­ted a sin­gle, though ter­ri­ble, “lapse in judge­ment.” A few hours later, af­ter more al­le­ga­tions about Cle­ment ap­proach­ing young women on­line sur­faced on Twit­ter, Scheer said Cle­ment was no longer wel­come in the Con­ser­va­tive cau­cus.

Scheer said he found out about the in­for­ma­tion in Cle­ment’s Thurs­day state­ment only when he posted it pub­licly.

Cle­ment wrote on Thurs­day that he had let him­self and ev­ery­one who cares about him down. “Pride and van­ity got the bet­ter of me, and shame held me back from get­ting back to the path of good,” he wrote.

“I apol­o­gize to the women with whom the ex­changes oc­curred, and I also apol­o­gize to any­one else who felt in any way that I crossed on­line bound­aries that made them feel un­com­fort­able, even with­out my know­ing. I am deeply sorry,” he wrote.

He said his con­stituency of­fice will stay open and he will re­main an MP.

Cle­ment has al­ready been re­as­signed a new seat in the back row of the House of Com­mons. He is in a small sec­tion with three other MPs – for­mer Lib­eral cab­i­net min­is­ter Hunter Tootoo, for­mer Lib­eral MP Dar­shan Kang and for­mer NDP MP Erin Weir – who have also found them­selves on the outs with their par­ties be­cause of al­le­ga­tions of im­proper be­hav­iour.

Cle­ment was a Con­ser­va­tive party stal­wart, a cab­i­net min­is­ter in Stephen Harper’s gov­ern­ment and twice a can­di­date for the fed­eral party lead­er­ship. He dropped out of the most re­cent lead­er­ship con­test early on and en­dorsed Maxime Bernier. He has also run for the pro­vin­cial Tory lead­er­ship in On­tario, where he was once a cab­i­net min­is­ter.

CP FILE PHOTO

Tony Cle­ment speaks dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod in the House of Com­mons on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa in April 2017.

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