Clement went to police in summer over online ‘lies’
HOW IT WAS PRESENTED TO ME WAS A FAKE INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT WAS SPREADING LIES ABOUT HIM ON INSTAGRAM.
OTTAWA • As early as this summer, former cabinet minister Tony Clement informed a Conservative Party official that an Instagram account was “spreading lies about him” and that he was contacting the Ontario Provincial Police as a result, according to chief opposition whip Mark Strahl.
Clement said publicly this week that he went to the RCMP with a report that someone tried to extort money from him after he sent sexually explicit photos and video to a social media account he thought belonged to a consenting woman.
After Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer asked him to leave caucus because of multiple online allegations of creepy behaviour, Clement further revealed in a Thursday letter apologizing to his constituents that multiple “inappropriate exchanges” on social media had led him to contact police this year. He said that in the summer, a woman he had communicated with on social media was offered money to reveal personal and intimate information about him.
The OPP confirmed to the National Post on Thursday that Clement had made a report during the summer. Scheer’s spokesman, Brock Harrison, told the Post that Clement did not inform his party of that report.
But reached Friday, Strahl said a conversation had indeed happened. He said he did not “escalate” the matter to the leader’s office because Clement led him to believe the problem was a relatively “routine” one, of an internet troll harassing a politician.
“Tony and I did have a conversation this summer about it, and how it was presented to me was a fake Instagram account was spreading lies about him on Instagram. Nothing about, ‘someone has intimate photos of me,’ nothing about blackmail at all at that time,” Strahl told the Post. “This was just, ‘an anonymous troll has an account and they’re spreading lies about me, what should I do?’ ”
Clement had been given top-secret security clearance as one of two Conservative MPs appointed to a special committee of parliamentarians charged with overseeing the work of Canada’s spy agencies.
Strahl didn’t inform Scheer or go any further than providing Clement with information about how to have a harassing account taken down by Facebook, which owns Instagram. “Apparently, within a couple of days, the account was taken down. So that was the end of it, as far as I knew,” said Strahl.
A source close to Clement told the Post that Strahl’s account sounded accurate — that at the time it appeared to just be a troll trying to spread politically damaging content about Clement, not a national security issue.
“At no time have these personal lapses impacted or involved my day-to-day work as a Member of Parliament,” Clement said in the letter posted Thursday. He could not be reached for comment Friday evening.
Tory Leader Andrew Scheer asked Tony Clement to leave caucus because of online allegations of creepy behaviour.