The scandal around sexually explicit images sent by MP Tony Clement widened Wednesday, with Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer announcing he no longer believed the incident to be isolated, and that he had asked the high profile politician to resign from caucus.
"I'm taking Tony at his word that this is the first time it's happened,” Scheer had said earlier in the day, calling it “a terrible lapse of judgement that we’re all disappointed in.”
By Wednesday afternoon — about an hour after VICE News put a number of other allegations about Clement’s online behaviour to the Conservative Party of Canada and to Clement — Scheer told reporters in Ottawa that “numerous reports of other incidents, allegations” had now emerged, without giving specifics.
“I've asked Tony to resign from caucus so that he can respond to these allegations,” Scheer said.
VICE News has spoken with several Canadian women who believe Clement’s online behaviour is questionable, including one who described Clement as a “thirsty old man" and another who said he responded to a nude image of hers.
Neither Clement, nor the Conservative Party of Canada, have responded to multiple requests for comment.
The initial incident came to light Tuesday night, when Clement issued a statement that, over the last three weeks, he had sent sexually explicit photos and a video of himself to someone he believed was “a consenting female recipient.”
“The recipient was, in fact, an individual or party who targeted me for the purpose of financial extortion,” he said. “The RCMP are currently investigating the matter to determine the identity of the party responsible for the extortion attempt.”
In that same statement, Clement announced he had resigned from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians — a new committee responsible for the civilian oversight of Canada’s national security agencies, which gave him top security clearance — and from his position in the shadow cabinet as the Conservative party’s justice critic.
According to Scheer, the privy council’s office and the RCMP are investigating to see if there was a national security breach or if Clement was targeted because of his role.
Several young women have since come forward on Twitter, saying Clement was known for brazenly liking their photos and sending messages on social media. None of those women said on Twitter that Clement sent inappropriate photos to them.
“The first time Tony Clement dm'd me it was after 1am and I was Chair of the [Toronto] Youth Cabinet. There - said it,” tweeted a woman named Claire McWatt. “What grown-ass, elected Parliamentarian wants to chit-chat with a 23 year old girl on Twitter at 1 am about the Rob Ford scandal, just casually? And that was years ago.”
“Way too many of my slightly political girlfriends agree — this guy is always there to ‘like’ your pics,” she continued. “It's what you expect from some distant high school Facebook friend, not an MP.”
“I’ve known for quite some time that he was that guy that was constantly commenting on people’s Instagram selfies, would follow a lot of young women on social media,” Julie LaLonde, an Ottawa-based anti-sexual violence educator. “Both Twitter and Instagram. He just had a reputation for being really thirsty. I never heard of anything being without consent, but he was known as being this thirsty old man.”
“It definitely calls into question his integrity, it definitely calls into question his understanding of security issues,” Lalonde continued.
“I think [since they’re] gearing up for an election next year and want to frame themselves as the party with no creepers in it, it would’ve been bad for the party” she said, referencing an allegation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau groped a woman at a British Columbia music festival in 2000. “It would’ve been bad for the party if he had stayed since they frame themselves as the party for family values."
Maddy Fast, an NDP volunteer who works as a nude model on the side, told VICE News that Clement started liking her photos in 2014, when she was 18. Eventually, he began sending her direct messages, and that’s when it got “creepy,” she said.
He would often send hearts in response to her Instagram stories, she said.
“It’s kind of normal for guys to do that, to send hearts and compliments, but everyone knows who Tony is in Canadian politics, and I assume he knows that I’m an NDP volunteer, it says that on all my stuff. He would sometimes DM me things about politics, so it was supposed to be normal.
“But the thing I know was not normal was there was a nude I posted that said goodnight on it, and this was right when I turned 20, and he replied to it, “good night,” which was very strange because Tony Clement should not be interacting with my nudes.” A screen grab of that exchange is pictured below.
“I think there was a lot of normalizing with Tony because he was so online," Fast said. "A lot of people didn’t want it to be a creepy thing. It was really overt, so people tried to make it into a friendship by acting normal with him.”
Jane Daly, who runs a beauty website in Ottawa, told VICE News that Clement responded to "every single" story she posted and repeatedly suggested that they meet for coffee. She had occasionally encountered Clement at social events and wasn’t surprised when he followed her on Instagram.
“It didn’t take long for him to start liking every picture I posted, and then I would wake up in the morning and notice that he had gone on deep dive liking sessions,” said Daly, who notes she is older than some of the other women speaking out about his behaviour, and considers herself part of a generation who are still polite to "creepy" men.
“It was weird. I’d wake up and there would be a record of Tony liking like, 15 pictures. My husband would laugh and say, ‘Who’s your biggest fan?’”
With files from Sarah Berman
Cover image of Conservative Shadow Minister for Justice Tony Clement and Shadow Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Pierre Paul-Hus hold a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press