Though he may not know it, Tony Clement is roadkill on the information highway.
This high-ranking, veteran Conservative politician is making the same mistake that Democratic U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner made: deluding himself into thinking that he doesn’t need to resign from public office after getting caught sexting.
It took Weiner a full 20 days to realize he had to resign after a photo of “his man bulge in boxer briefs” hit Twitter on May 27, 2011. He denied that it was his … well, that it was him. Then more photos showed up. Weiner still insisted he didn’t need to resign.
...Weiner and Clement held high public office. Every day they conducted the public’s business, benefactors of the public trust. What they do privately cannot be divorced from their heavy public responsibility to maintain and protect the integrity of the system they serve. Both men failed utterly to do that, which is why Weiner ultimately resigned — and Clement ought to.
Clement was on Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. That means he was privy to the country’s deepest secrets. He has admitted that he was duped into thinking his sexting, including a dubious video that he sent, was going to a consenting woman. The former Conservative now says he’s being “extorted” over their sexually explicit communications. The RCMP is investigating. This is the kind of gross recklessness that turns the hair of security officials prematurely grey.
Doing the right thing is no longer in vogue.
And it’s not just Clement hanging on when he should be saying goodbye. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has not done the right thing in the current circumstances. For the family-values party, Scheer’s initial reaction to Clement’s admission was laughable. After a stern talking to by Scheer, Clement resigned as justice critic and saw his committee roles assigned to Lisa Raitt. That done, Scheer had no problem with Clement remaining in caucus.
Just a few hours later, Scheer reversed field. Faced with more allegations of sexting by Clement, Scheer asked him to resign from caucus so he could “respond” to these “allegations.” That leaves the door wide open for Clement to return. Not a word about the violation of public trust in play here.
Scheer’s wishy-washy reaction is strange for another reason. From what the Conservative leader himself has claimed, Clement lied to him about the number of times he has sexted anonymous women. The initial story was that this was a one-off between consenting adults, which Scheer could apparently forgive as a “terrible lapse of judgment.”
That meant that Scheer was willing to keep Clement in caucus after his admission of the most reckless kind of sexting. That says as much about Scheer’s judgment as it does about Clement’s.