It was hard to top the live US midterm election updates rolling in last night, but Conservative MP Tony Clement’s sudden resignation and sextortion claim managed to get Canada’s political class debating on Twitter late into Tuesday evening.
Clement issued a statement Tuesday saying he has resigned from all of his committee and critic roles in the House of Commons, but will stay on as MP for his Ontario cottage country riding. The career politician said he’s taking time to focus on his family after someone attempted to extort him using nudes he sent online.
“Over the last three weeks, I have shared sexually explicit images and a video of myself to someone who I believed was a consenting female recipient,” reads the statement. “The recipient was, in fact, an individual or party who targeted me for the purpose of financial extortion.”
Clement said the RCMP is currently investigating “to determine the identity of the party responsible.”
In the statement, Clement apologizes to his family, colleagues, and constituents for his “poor judgment” and “the needless pain and humiliation my actions have caused.” The MP also said he is seeking “treatment” to “make sure this will not happen again.”
Clement has been a heavyweight within Canada’s Conservative party for more than a decade. Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper he headed multiple ministries and was appointed president of the treasury board. He was serving as justice critic in the Conservatives’ shadow cabinet and on a secretive national security committee before news of the alleged sextortion broke.
Many Canadians also know him as a prolific social media user who follows tens of thousands of people across platforms.
Following the resignation letter, several women in Canadian political circles shared first-hand accounts of Clement's questionable late-night Instagram habits on social media. Young women VICE spoke to said he often went on deep-timeline liking sprees after midnight.
“My husband used to laugh about Tony being my biggest fan,” one woman told VICE.
To some critics this suggested a pattern of unsolicited behaviour that was being obscured by Clement’s victimhood claim. Others questioned why Clement would require “treatment” if he merely fell for a blackmailing scheme.
But many stood by Clement’s account, opting to wait for more details to emerge. Global News reported Clement’s alleged extortionist threatened to release the nudes unless he paid 50,000 Euros.
In late August 2018, Burnaby RCMP issued a warning about a spike in sextortion attempts involving men’s webcam videos. Victims of these scams often receive unsolicited messages that strike up conversation and then ask to move to a video platform. The scammers then ask their targets to undress and masturbate.
“The suspect will then end the session and tell the victim they have a video recording of their conversation,” reads the RCMP alert.
Scams like these are often difficult to prosecute because they work across international borders and police departments can be slow to understand the technology at work.
RCMP confirmed to the Toronto Star they are investigating the incident, which means it’s likely there’s now an evidence folder in a filing cabinet somewhere with Tony Clement’s dick pics in it.
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