OTTAWA — Conservative MP Tony Clement says he has engaged in more than one inappropriate online exchange.
In a letter to constituents posted on his website Thursday morning, Clement wrote that the exchanges led to multiple acts of infidelity.
Clement wrote that one exchange led to a woman being offered money through an anonymous social media account in exchange for intimate and personal information, and he contacted Ontario police to report that exchange last summer.
“During a period of personal difficulty and weakness I engaged in inappropriate exchanges that crossed lines that should never have been crossed. These exchanges led to acts of infidelity,” Clement wrote.
On Tuesday, Clement resigned from his role as his party’s justice critic and from his committee duties, after admitting to sending sexually explicit images and a video to someone he thought was a consenting woman who he says tried to extort him.
Initially party leader Andrew Scheer did not ask him to leave caucus, saying he believed Clement’s claim that the exchange that led to the extortion attempt was isolated.
Scheer’s stance shifted Wednesday afternoon after he learned of more allegations from women posting about Clement’s behaviour on social media.
“New information became available today that suggest there are allegations that this is not an isolated incident and therefore I’ve asked Tony to resign from caucus and he has done so,” Scheer said.
Clement wrote on Thursday that he had let himself and everyone who cares about him down. “Pride and vanity got the better of me, and shame held me back from getting back to the path of good,” he wrote.
“I apologize to the women with whom the exchanges occurred, and I also apologize to anyone else who felt in any way that I crossed online boundaries that made them feel uncomfortable, even without my knowing. I am deeply sorry,” he wrote.
He said his office in Parry Sound-Muskoka will remain open and he will continue his responsibilities as an MP.
Clement was a Conservative party stalwart, a cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s government and twice a candidate for the federal party leadership. He dropped out of the most recent leadership contest early on and endorsed Maxime Bernier. He also ran for the provincial Tory leadership in Ontario, where he was once a cabinet minister.
Clement is a heavy user of social media, frequently posting on Twitter and “liking” posts on Instagram.
He is married to lawyer and author Lynne Golding.
Here is a full copy of the letter MP Tony Clement posted on his website on Thursday:
This is Tony Clement and this message is for my constituents in Parry Sound—Muskoka.
I have had the tremendous honour and privilege of serving as your Member of Parliament since 2006, a trust that has been renewed through four consecutive federal elections. Whether on the government or opposition side of the aisle, whether serving at the Cabinet table or on the back bench, my top priority has always been, and continues to be, working for the people and communities of Parry Sound—Muskoka. I have done so tirelessly, with passion and enjoyment from the first moment I received the honour to work on your behalf.
I have always aimed to serve with humility and today, I am writing to you directly to address a number of poor decisions in my personal and private life. During a period of personal difficulty and weakness I engaged in inappropriate exchanges that crossed lines that should never have been crossed. These exchanges led to acts of infidelity. One inappropriate exchange led to a woman being offered money by an anonymous social media account in exchange for the disclosure of intimate and personal information. I immediately reported this personal matter to the OPP last summer. Most recently, another inappropriate exchange led to foreign actors attempting to use my indiscretion for financial extortion which, without hesitation or second thought, I immediately reported to the RCMP. While these exchanges were entirely consensual and mutual, they were absolutely wrong and should never have occurred.
In conducting myself this way I’ve let down myself, my family, my friends and supporters, my community, my work colleagues, and my staff — basically everyone I care about and who care about me. Pride and vanity got the better of me, and shame held me back from getting back to the path of good. I apologize to the women with whom the exchanges occurred, and I also apologize to anyone else who felt in any way that I crossed online boundaries that made them feel uncomfortable, even without my knowing. I am deeply sorry.
I want to be clear that at no time have these personal lapses impacted or involved my day to day work as a Member of Parliament on behalf of our communities. That said, I offer you no excuses for my conduct. I take full responsibility. Members of Parliament are expected to set a high standard, a standard I have failed to meet.
In particular, I have failed the most important person in my life, my wife who has been with me through the many ups and downs of public service. She has made many sacrifices along the way in order to build a loving home and a wonderful family. I cannot undo the pain and hurt my actions have caused. All I can do is own up to what I have done and commit myself to rebuilding our trust, however long that may take. The mistakes I have made in my personal life, for those who know me, do not reflect who I am. I am resolved to refocus, to work hard, and to heal the damage I have caused to those most important in my life.
I love my job and I love my family. I am committed to getting the professional help I need to continue serving my family, my community and my country in whatever ways I can. I wish to sincerely thank the many members of our community who have reached out to convey their thoughts and prayers to me. I can assure the residents of Parry Sound—Muskoka that my offices remain open and at your service, and that I will continue to uphold the responsibilities of being your Member of Parliament.
M.P., Parry Sound—Muskoka
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