MP Tony Clement's sexting and extortion scandal
This is a CBC podcast. Hi, I'm Jamie. Not even forty eight hours ago as always eating on the results of the midterm election. At different kind of political story was breaking here in Canada. Tony Clement is apologizing and asking for an RCMP investigation. A high ranking long serving conservative member of parliament announce his resignation as Justice critic for the official opposition. Tony Clement has now admitted to sharing sexually explicit images. And video climent says your CPA is investigating as he's now facing extortion attempt today, I'm asking how a season politician known for his use of social media ended up at the center of sexting scandal. That's today on front burner. I'm bashing Capello. Same host of CBS's power politics. And I'm in Ottawa hive Ashi, thanks for being here. What do we know about why? Tony commend has resigned from his post as a conservative parties Justice critic and also from several government committees will what's so interesting. At least I think is that basically what we know at this point is all from Tony Clement himself. You released this statement essentially saying admitting that over a period he says of three weeks he sent sexually explicit photos and video to someone. He thought was a consenting woman. And then he says that that person whoever it is tried to extort him for a senior source in the conservative party tells me fifty thousand euros. So he admitted all that he laid it out. And then he said, I'm taking time away from my duties on the hill like you mentioned committee duties and duties as a critic kind of injustice critic, and I'm going to go spend some time with my family. He's married. He has kids and I'm going. To seek some kind of treatment. So it kind of starts an answer. We don't know what kind of treatment it'll take or if he'll come back in the fold and win anything about who's trying to extort him. The euro's is very interesting. Yeah. It's super interesting. We don't know a whole lot at this point. But again, it's kind of developing story. So that could change I do know that he referred it to the P. And then told the party the party says that they're not aware of who source could be, but that's the amount of money. He told the conservatives. So he said he was it was the number named kind of fifty thousand euros. And so the CPA is investigating there's people confirm that their vesting. But they won't they also confirm who they who might be suspected or any details about sort of the nature of the investigation. And do you have any sense of why he released a statement with so much information in it one step aside and say he had family issues while these details. Sure. Well, I think it was basically a decision made with. Party in concert with the party from what I understand he told them last week after he had referred it to the RCMP, and they discussed sort of a number of options. And I guess the central question that they looked at in figuring out how they run approach. It was can he survive this? And the feeling was from my conversations with sources in the party that if he did come clean, quote, unquote. An admit the details of it that that is something that he could rebound from. Whereas if the details were held back there would be a lot of questions because he is pretty well known. And it could you know, it would get a lot worse before it ever got better. And that would make something that he probably couldn't survive politically. Toni Collette, and he's also known for his prolific use of social media actually, hadn't looked Instagram account until this morning, but it's sort of goofy. It's full of what you might call dad sell fees. He's standing beside a lot of things a giant pumpkin giant apple? There are lots of pictures of him playing guitar. It's silly and self deprecating. What do we know about how Tony Clement uses social media? All good points. I would argue he's the probably the most prolific social media user in the party. At least the most well-known he has a pre big following on Instagram and Twitter understand utilize the power of social media everyday. In fact, my first draft of the speech was less than a hundred forty characters long. And he sort of figured out early on. I say this obviously with a grain of salt now, but how how to properly use those channels for communication in that he does it himself. He presents personality, and he engages quite a bit. See Hodge target power hash day, Canadian poli. That's what he was known for. I mean, he was all over Instagram. Like, you said the sort of self deprecating approachable image was projected by him. And it has been for a number of years. I mean, that's that wouldn't be a surprise to anyone in Ottawa. So it just sort of added to the irony of what happened. You know, it's interesting you mentioned before that. There's a sense that he might be able to move on from this, particularly if he is open about what what has happened. But is there a sense that there might be more here? Yeah. There definitely is. I think that is the sort of central part of what might affect his chances of moving on beyond this. I mean, it's there's almost this debate happening is he a victim of cat fishing or has he exhibited some sort of predatory behavior. And there is no evidence to back that up at this point. I mean, he admitted what happened with this one. Instance, there have been since then people who came out on those social media platforms. He so he's on all the time and publicly have said, you know, one of two things either. Yes, I'm a younger isg girl like in my twenties. And he was contacting me quite frequently on Instagram. And I thought it was weird. But that's where that kind of story ends. And then there's a. Hugh, others who have come out and said, no, I also received those kinds of images or or things along those lines. They have not. I mean, we have in corroborated that they have not produced those images as of yet. So it's there's a big question, Mark. But the discussion here is certainly is there another shoe drop is I know, for example, even within the party there are conversations about whether he was, you know, totally fulsome in in in describing everything that happened like if this had been going on for three weeks, and to this level where you were sending video are you sure this has not happened before he told them that it hasn't. But there I think everybody is sort of you know, a little bit hesitant to buy into that completely. Even interfere said, I take him at his word, and that's a pretty specific statement. Do we know anything more about the extortion attempt beyond the money that was asked for so I know that he says on the national security and intelligence committee, and there would be some obvious concerns around the information that someone on that committee would have well that is again, there are just so many questions about that. Because so he sits on this committee, which is a really unique committee in that the members which come from different parties have a very high level of security clearance. I think they've met something like fifty times. So they meet pretty frequently. And they talk about and are supposed to offer oversight on the most sensitive intelligence issues in this country. So all of a sudden, you have one of those members embroiled in some sort of, you know, cat fishing extortion scheme where he's being blackmailed. It's to the point where the Privy Council, so you know, very official body had to be made aware they had to brief the prime minister that blackmailing was involved. We don't know if it had anything to do with his. Duties anything to do with the country or his duties on parliament hill. We just don't know that to be truthful, but those questions are definitely being asked. And there haven't been a lot of answers. It's interesting sending news or videos. It's something that people obviously do, but I always have a hard time wrapping my head around. Why someone in this position would do this? You know, he's not the first holiday season to step aside after scandal like this. No, not that. I feel like I I don't know if you've watched Anthony Weiner documentary, but I have. Yeah. I felt like I watched that whole sake thinking why why why like I don't I I guess everybody. You know, I feel like everybody does do things that they regretted we all make mistakes. But it's dangerous putting anything like that on the internet. No matter how private you think. It is no matter how much you trust their person. So I I can't comprehend especially because he's also so social media savvy. It's not like it's someone who never does anything to do with the internet. Right. He's not new to the internet. No, I'm I also don't want to lose sight here about how serious this allegation of extortion is almost like a really hard thing to to pigeon hole. Right. If you want to characterize this event like is. He there too is there's almost two is to look at it and they're not necessarily mutually excuse exclusive. Like, he's he could have this exhibit this predatory behavior if a pattern actually with evidences is presented, but you know. He also could be a victim of a crime. It could be a bit of both. Basically, we don't know. Can we talk a little bit about Tony Clement the politician so up until this point what is he best known for? And can you give me a sense of his place in the conservative party? How how important is he he's important conservative MP? Tony Clement has been a staple of Tory politics for the better part of three decades. Definitely one of the more recognizable people in the party. He's run for the leadership twice unsuccessfully. Once in the last round, he ended up withdrawing because he couldn't kind of meet his fundraising targets, and then he ran back in the early days. He's held under prime minister Harper he held like fairly substantial cabinet pro royals, including I think he was minister of health minister of industry and president of the treasury board. He also ran for the provincial leadership the the PC party leadership years ago, and he was in government there, and he served like a myriad of ministerial portfolios. They're like health in transport, and I think he served under both my cares and Ernie's so he has had a long political. Career. He is. I mean, he's not the most prominent of all conservative MP's. But he is I would say like a recognizable face with the conservative party. And I can honestly say nobody would have seen this coming, and I should correct that nobody in the political arena because there are a lot of people on Twitter saying, oh, yeah. Big surprise. Like, he message me all the time. But honestly, the reaction around the newsroom, and everyone who was contacting each other as it came out among the political parties was really Tony comment. Like, he just he didn't come across that way. Sure. He was in scramming lot and doing things along those veins in that vein. But I don't think people really would have seen something to this degree. We heard from conservative Andrew Scheer on Tony Clemenza position to step back from a lot of his duties sheer called it a terrible apps in judgment. But also he said he was encouraged that Tony had decided to seek help. And that he wished him all the best in doing. So Gino journey more about what this help might be. No. That's what's so weird about this whole story is I've reached out to Tony Clemente uh. I I have not heard back. But I I don't know what help you need to. I'm not really sure is it marriage counseling is that. I don't know what treatment, you know, combat the idea of sending sending videos of yourself laying. I that connection has not been made by the conservative party or Tony Clement at this point. And I think as we move forward that becomes a big question to my understanding is he'll be gone for months. So I don't know what that treatment consists of and when he comes back, you know, what will he say about that? And what's the? The goal of the treatment not to send pictures anymore. Or is it? I mean, if you're undergoing marriage counselor or something along those lines like that makes sense, but they're not they have not been clear about that. Thank you so much. Okay. Thanks so much for having me. After she, and I spoke there were some dates to the story on Wednesday. Tony Clement left the conservative caucus at the request of opposition leader intra share. So he's no longer part of the conservative party right now. But he still remains an MP in a scrum. The conservative leader, explained wise. That this was an isolated incident since then there have been numerous reports of of other infants allegations. So in that in that respect, I've asked Tony to resigned from caucus you can respond to. And then in an Email to the global mail, Mr. Coleman acknowledged numerous interactions with individuals on social media, but he denied any harassing behavior. Writing quote, I've never sent unsolicited harassing messages effort. That's all for today. I'm debbie. Thanks for listening to front burner. For more CBC podcasts. Goto CBC dot CA slash podcasts.