OTTAWA — Longtime MP Tony Clement has resigned from the Conservative shadow cabinet after he shared explicit sexual images and a video of himself electronically.
Clement says the images were sent in the last three weeks and he believed they were going to a "consenting female."
However he now says the person was trying to extort him and he has asked the RCMP to investigate.
"I recognize now that I have gone down a wrong path and have exercised very poor judgment," Clement said in a statement Tuesday.
Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer said he has appointed Lisa Raitt to take over for Clement as the justice critic for now.
"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," Scheer said.
The RCMP confirmed it had received information from Clement and was currently investigating the matter, but did not comment further.
Clement is resigning his committee roles as well, but will stay in the Conservative caucus.
Clement, 57, has been one of the pillars of the Conservative caucus for more than a decade, and before that was a senior member of the provincial party in Ontario.
He was a cabinet minister for the entirety of Stephen Harper's near-decade long tenure as prime minister, and was a cabinet minister at the provincial level before that.
He says he is sorry to his family, his party and his constituents for his behaviour.
"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," he wrote.
Clement was twice a candidate for the federal party leadership and also ran for the provincial Tory leadership in Ontario once. He dropped out of the most recent leadership contest early on and endorsed Maxime Bernier.
Clement is one of the most recognizable MPs as well as one of the heaviest users of social media. He is a frequent poster on Twitter. It has occasionally landed him in trouble before, including when he had to apologize after cursing at a 15-year-old on the platform.
He is married to lawyer and author Lynne Golding.
Clement Had "Terrible Lapse Of Judgment" But Remains In Caucus: Scheer
OTTAWA — Tony Clement remains a member of the federal Conservative caucus despite his admission he sent sexually explicit photos and a video to someone online, party leader Andrew Scheer says.
Clement sent out a statement Tuesday evening saying the recipient attempted to extort him, threatening to release the photos if he didn't pay.
Scheer said Clement told him about the situation last week while Scheer was travelling and the two were not able to sit down face to face until Monday. After that meeting they agreed it was best for the caucus and the party for Clement to relinquish his role as justice critic and resign from all the committees he sits on.
That includes the national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians, a position that had given him top security clearance and entitled him to see some of Canada's most important secrets.
"I think we can all agree that this was a very poor decision for Tony to have made," said Scheer.
He said the RCMP and security agents connected to the Privy Council Office are investigating whether national security was compromised or if Clement was targeted because of his role on the committee.
Clement said the RCMP are also investigating the extortion attempt. In his statement he apologized for his behaviour and said he is seeking "treatment" so it doesn't happen again.
But for now Clement will remain a Conservative MP and Scheer had no comment about whether Clement would run again in the 2019 election.
"Right now, we are dealing with a situation whereby all the information we have was between Tony and someone who was consenting to the communication," Scheer said. "That doesn't make it not a terrible lapse in judgment but that's the situation that we are dealing with."
Scheer said there is a code of conduct in place for his MPs and that they are told they need to follow it but suggested a code shouldn't have been needed.
"I don't know that too many people who have to be told not to share explicit images and videos with people that you haven't met but obviously this is a terrible decision, extremely poor judgment."
Scheer said he is taking Clement at his word that he sent the photos to someone he thought had consented, and that it is the first time he'd done such a thing.
The Conservative caucus meeting went on as usual Wednesday, though all but one MP found a way to get into the meeting room without walking through public spaces.
Lisa Raitt wouldn't comment on the situation as she walked through the rotunda in Centre Block on her way to the meeting.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had no comment about the Clement situation.
Clement is a well-known MP who has been part of the Ontario and federal conservative parties for several decades. He was an Ontario cabinet minister before moving to the federal realm. He has been an MP since 2006, and was a cabinet minister in the portfolios of health, industry and treasury board for nearly a decade, and has been one of the most prominent members of the Conservative party in its stint in opposition since 2015.
Clement ran twice for the federal leadership, losing in 2004 and withdrawing from the 2017 contest early to support Maxime Bernier.
In addition to his role on the national security and intelligence committee, Clement was the vice-chair of the justice committee.
Raitt has taken over for him as the Conservative justice critic for the time being.