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A man gets tattooed at a Vancouver studio in 2010. (Simon Hayter/Simon Hayter for The Globe and Mail)
A man gets tattooed at a Vancouver studio in 2010. (Simon Hayter/Simon Hayter for The Globe and Mail)

Tim Powers

Beware the electronic tattoo: Emails leave Tory MPs scarred Add to ...

Tory MPs have been in the news lately in good part because their assorted e-mails were made public, causing them embarrassment and prompting a pounding by their opposition opponents. For different reasons, Bob Dechert and Tony Clement are probably wishing they never pushed the “send” key on some of their missives.

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Mr. Dechert’s conversations between he and his Xinhua reporter friend are, in my view, personal and best sorted out privately. Mr. Clement, a prolific user of all types of electronic communications technology, probably thought his dialogue with a Muskoka mayor was also a private conversation. After all, he was elected to be a member of Parliament who represents his riding, and not to be a potted plant. But as these two incidents demonstrate, once you push send you are playing roulette with discretion.

When describing a certain star athlete’s proclivities for passions of the flesh, broadcaster Mike Grange noted he got in trouble because he left an electronic tattoo of his behavior. Just like their ink-stained cousins, these viral markings are hard to remove and expose their bearers to unwanted criticism.

The irony of the Dechert and Clement e-mail tales is that now it really is quite difficult to suggest this government has trouble with communications. In fact, in these two stories the opposite is true. Nevertheless, this is the sort of open government the Prime Minister would probably prefer kept closed.

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