Former cabinet minister Tony Clement is no longer a member of the Conservative caucus.
Speaking with reporters on the way into question period on Wednesday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer announced he had asked Clement to resign from the Conservative caucus amid a sexting scandal that Scheer said “is not an isolated incident” and that he has done so.
“I’ve asked Tony to resign from caucus and he has done so,” Scheer said.
When asked whether Clement will be allowed to run again for the party in the 2019 election, Scheer hinted that remains up in the air.
“Right now in the short term, we’re focusing on the fact he’s no longer a member of our caucus.”
On Tuesday night, Clement — who is married — issued a statement claiming he was being extorted by someone he had sent “sexually explicit” images and a video of himself to and had believed the communication was consensual.
Global News has learned exclusively that Clement has been told that if he does not pay 50,000 euros, then the material will be released to the public.
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RCMP have confirmed an investigation is underway following complaints brought by Clement but did not confirm exactly what the force is investigating.
“We can confirm that we have received information from the complainant and that we are currently investigating the matter,” a spokesperson for the RCMP said on Tuesday night. “As such, we cannot further comment at this point.”
A Global News reporter also spotted Clement at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.
Clement did not respond when asked by the reporter about his departure from the Conservative caucus.
His ejection from caucus marked a reversal from Scheer’s position earlier this morning.
On his way into the Conservative caucus meeting, Scheer said he believed Clement that the incident was a one-off.
WATCH: Conservative leader Andrew Scheer announces Tony Clement has resigned from caucus
“I’m taking Tony at his word that this is the first time this has happened. Obviously, it’s a terrible lapse in judgment that we’re all disappointed in,” said Scheer when asked about Clement’s political future with the party.
“Look, right now we’re dealing with a situation whereby all the information we have was between Tony and someone consenting to the communication. That doesn’t make it not a terrible lapse in judgment but that’s the situation that we’re dealing with so I won’t have anything further to add to that dynamic or any kind of internal caucus matters but I think we can all agree this was a very poor decision.”
However, Scheer explained his request for Clement’s resignation from caucus as coming after further allegations related to his behaviour emerged.
Clement’s ejection from caucus comes after he resigned his role as Conservative justice critic as well as all his roles on parliamentary committees.
That includes his role on the powerful new National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, for which he obtained a top secret security clearance that goes far above what most MPs receive.
As part of that role, he is authorized to obtain classified information related to investigations or studies the committee members undertake into national security and intelligence matters, the exact nature of which are not made public.
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When asked whether Clement may have been targeted specifically because of his role on that committee, Scheer had been cautious earlier Wednesday morning.
“It’s not for me to speculate that level of what motivated this person,” he said.
“I’ll leave that to the national security agencies.”
According to Scheer, the RCMP investigation into the alleged extortion scheme began last week and he spoke face-to-face with Clement about the matter on Monday.
He would not say whether any aspect of national security may have been compromised by the alleged extortion scheme but noted that security officials from the Privy Council Office, the RCMP and other national security agencies continue to look into the matter.
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But he added that this is not the first time caucus members and staffers have been told to be careful about who and what they engage with.
“We certainly have had many conversations over the last few years about the code of conduct for Members of Parliament, for staff and indicated to members of our team these are things that have to be followed,” Scheer said.
“I don’t know that too many people would 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 conduct.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also asked about the matter on Wednesday morning but had no comment.
It is not clear when a replacement for Clement will be named to the national security committee.