Conservative MP Tony Clement has resigned from his duties in caucus and says he is the victim of financial extortion after sharing sexually explicit images and a video with someone he believed was a consenting woman.
Mr. Clement, a former leadership contender who was the party’s justice critic, said in a statement released on Tuesday that he has stepped down from the House of Commons committees he served on and his critic role for exercising “very poor judgment.”
“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. The recipient was, in fact, an individual or party who targeted me for the purpose of financial extortion,” the long-time MP said in the statement.
“The RCMP are currently investigating the matter to determine the identity of the party responsible for the extortion attempt.”
The RCMP later confirmed they were investigating the complaint. “As such, we cannot further comment at this point,” RCMP spokeswoman Stéphanie Dumoulin said.
Mr. Clement, a former Ontario and federal cabinet minister, also sat on the high-level National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. Members of the committee are required to obtain a security clearance and swear an oath of secrecy, and need to maintain confidentiality of information they receive.
In his statement, the 57-year-old married father of three and MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka asked for privacy for himself and his family.
“I recognize now that I have gone down a wrong path and have exercised very poor judgment. First and foremost, I apologize to my family for the needless pain and humiliation my actions have caused. I also apologize to my colleagues and my constituents for letting them down,” Mr. Clement said.
“I am committed to seeking the help and treatment I need in my personal life to make sure this will not happen again while also continuing to discharge my duties as a member of Parliament.”
In a statement, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said deputy leader Lisa Raitt will take over Mr. Clement’s role as justice critic in the shadow cabinet.
“While I’m greatly disappointed with Mr. Clement’s actions, I am encouraged that he has decided to seek help and I wish him all the best in doing so,” Mr. Scheer said.
Mr. Scheer’s office did not respond to follow-up requests asking what kind of help Mr. Clement is receiving, or why he’s still allowed to sit in caucus.
Mr. Scheer himself doesn’t have the power to expel an MP from his caucus. According to legislation passed in 2015, it takes written requests from 20 per cent of MPs in the Tory caucus to call a vote on expelling a member – and that person would only be booted if a majority of MPs voted for it in a secret ballot.
With a report from Daniel Leblanc