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Clement admits to multiple acts of infidelity as long ago as last summer

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  • OTTAWA — Former Conservative MP Tony Clement has had inappropriate online relationships with more than one woman and went to the police months ago because someone was trying to pay one of the women to offer up intimate details of their exchanges, he admitted Thursday.

    When Clement told Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer last week that he had shared explicit images of himself online in October and was being extorted to prevent the images from being released publicly, he insisted it was an isolated incident.

    It was not.

    “During a period of personal difficulty and weakness I engaged in inappropriate exchanges that crossed lines that should never have been crossed,” Clement wrote Thursday in a statement to his constituents in the Ontario riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka.

    Scheer looked grim as he was forced to take time away from a policy announcement on crime in Brampton, Ont. to respond to the latest admissions.

    “This was a shock to me when I was made aware of the situation,” said Scheer.

    Despite knowing for several months that someone had been trying to dig up dirt on him, Clement continued to sit until Tuesday on Parliament’s national-security and intelligence committee. Members have top-secret clearances and can be privy to extremely sensitive information.

    Clement is no longer on that committee and the RCMP and the Privy Council Office are investigating possible security breaches.

    Clement approached Scheer last week to let him know someone was trying to extort him because he’d sent explicit images and a video to someone he thought was a “consenting female.” He also asked the RCMP to investigate.

    Thursday, Clement said the most recent extortion attempt was by “foreign actors” but provided nothing to explain why he believed that to be the case.

    Clement said he wouldn’t comment beyond what was in his statement. Scheer said he knew no details of the extortion, including how much money was sought.

    Clement resigned as the Conservative justice critic and from his committee assignments Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, Scheer said Clement would remain in the Conservative caucus because he trusted Clement’s claim that he’d committed a single, though terrible, “lapse in judgement.” A few hours later, after more allegations about Clement approaching young women online surfaced on Twitter, Scheer said Clement was no longer welcome in the Conservative caucus.

    Scheer said he found out about the information in Clement’s Thursday statement only when he posted it publicly.

    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 constituency office will stay open and he will remain an MP.

    Clement has already been reassigned a new seat in the back row of the House of Commons. He is in a small section with three other MPs —  former Liberal cabinet minister Hunter Tootoo, former Liberal MP Darshan Kang and former NDP MP Erin Weir — who have also found themselves on the outs with their parties because of allegations of improper behaviour.

    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 has also run for the provincial Tory leadership in Ontario, where he was once a cabinet minister.

    Janice Dickson and Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press



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    Police looking into two more incidents at private all-boys’ school

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  • Toronto police say they have learned of two more incidents at a private all-boys’ school at the centre of an investigation into allegations of assault and sexual assault.

    Police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray says one of the incidents is being investigated as an assault with a weapon, while the second is considered a threat.

    The latest incidents bring to six the number of cases being investigated by police at St. Michael’s College School, a Roman Catholic school that teaches grades 7 to 12.

    Police and the school have said two of those incidents involved an alleged sexual assault.

    Police laid charges against six students on Monday in connection with one of the alleged sexual assaults that was captured on video.

    Five of the teens turned themselves in to police Monday morning, while another one was arrested while on his way to school.

    More to come.

    The Canadian Press


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    Ottawa to release competitiveness plan, but it’s unclear how much help is needed

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  • OTTAWA — The federal government will roll out an update to its fiscal plan Wednesday to help Canada compete for investment dollars following major American corporate tax reforms — but it’s up for debate whether Canada is facing a serious investment challenge.

    The business community has called on federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau to respond to the Trump administration’s tax and regulatory overhaul with significant changes of his own in Canada —including corporate tax cuts.

    The government, however, has signalled it will be focused on targeted measures to attract investment, rather than broad-based corporate tax reductions that would lower federal revenues by billions of dollars per year.

    Morneau will lay out his plan in Wednesday’s much-anticipated fall economic statement — which will arrive after months of debate on whether Canada has lost its edge as an investment destination, and by how much.

    Canada has heard many warnings from the business community that American tax reforms will have a big, negative impact on investment here — but some experts insist the country has performed well even after the U.S. overhaul.

    Economist Randall Bartlett says investment in Canada has been pretty strong through the first part of 2018 and he believes it’s difficult to draw a direct link between the country’s performance and the U.S. tax changes.

    Bartlett, who works for a University of Ottawa think-tank headed by former parliamentary budget watchdog Kevin Page, says people on both sides of the debate seem to be cherry- picking data points to support their interests.

    Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press


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