How sobering it is now to go through Tony Clement’s various
social media accounts and realize that it was just two weeks
ago that he was celebrating his accomplished wife Lynne
Golding’s new book and posing with her and the novel, or that
in September, his band, The Dock Spiders, was playing a few
gigs in his home riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka.
How much of those happy pictures was real? How much of an
online life is ever real? For all that Clement, in the modern
vernacular, appeared to “share,” as much was hidden. With human
beings, there is usually a secret self, if not a whole secret
After admitting Tuesday evening to sexting someone he said he
believed was a “consenting female recipient” who then allegedly
tried to shake him down for money, by one report 50,000 euros —
this aspect the RCMP is investigating — Clement stepped down
first as shadow justice minister and as a member of the
National Security and Intelligence Committee of
By midday Wednesday, “new information” that suggested “this was
not an isolated incident” led Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer
to ask Clement for his resignation from caucus.
Were his posts just this relatively old guy (Clement is 57)
trying to reach his constituents and fellow Conservatives in
the modern manner, or was he creeping, as a legion of young
women have claimed on their social media feeds (“Every girl in
Canada with an Instagram was wondering when this would finally
happen,” said one) to meet what she described as “literally any
age 20-26 Canadian girl with a medium length haircut”?
It’s a reminder, if nothing else, that when it comes to lust,
brains are the first thing to go out the window.
How did he manage not to learn the lesson of the felicitously
named Anthony Weiner, the former Democratic congressman who
resigned over one sexting scandal, only to repeat the behaviour
while trying to make a political comeback and who, as of last
fall, was in jail for sexting a minor?
Closer to home, there was the Mike Kydd story. He taught a
marketing course at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax,
and was suspended after a female student filed a formal
complaint against him.
One of the pictures he’d texted her — a picture of his penis,
of course, at her repeated request, a fact she originally
failed to disclose — was posted on Twitter by a third party.
I don’t buy for a minute his efforts to ‘medicalize’ what he
He told me once (and confirmed it Wednesday) that even as he
was doing it, sending the woman the picture she’d demanded, he
knew he was absolutely courting disaster, yet somehow couldn’t
Later, she claimed he had foisted the picture upon her. The
police investigated her complaint but declined to lay charges;
the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission dismissed the woman’s
He was an adult; she was an adult; as a part-time prof he had
virtually no power over her and, in fact, it was he who was
vulnerable, newly separated from his wife and living on his
own, and already a little afraid of her. Yet he pressed send.
Such is the power of sexual desire, or loneliness, or both.
Clement, to use a golf term, did not go to school on the many
men who went before him. He must have imagined that he would be
the one guy who wouldn’t get caught or trapped or found out.
Well, there aren’t many of those guys about any more.
Of course, it is dead wrong to text intimate pictures to
minors, period. It is also wrong to send them unsolicited, to
anyone. Clement believed his adult recipient wanted them and,
retroactively, that he had been set up as a target of
extortion. It is also lousy behaviour to creep young women
online, if indeed Clement did that too.
And I don’t buy for a minute his efforts to “medicalize” what
In the brief statement he issued, he said he is “committed to
seeking the help and treatment” he needs. What treatment would
that be, for heaven’s sake? For terminal vanity?
But there’s an unappealing prissy quality to the discussion of
his downfall, perhaps unsurprising given the prissiness of the
Tory leader and the party.
As my late father always said (this meant as helpful advice for
his boy-crazy daughter), “A stiff prick knows no conscience.”
Or much of anything else, either. Still took me years, no
decades, to learn the truth of it, for men and, yes, women too.
It always does.
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