Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (Science) Will Amos during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (Science) Will Amos during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

Canada’s naked MP speaks out: leaked photo sends message ‘anything goes’ in politics

‘It sends a terrible signal,’ Liberal representative William Amos said in an interview

The Liberal MP who inadvertently flashed his parliamentary colleagues says the fact that a screenshot of him in the nude was leaked to the media sends a troubling message about the corrosive state of politics in Canada.

“It sends a terrible signal,” William Amos said in an interview.

“It says if there’s partisan gain to be achieved, then anything goes and that’s not acceptable,” he said, adding that it also sends a terrible message to young people.

“What does that tell our children and what does it tell society about the nature of proper behaviour in a digital society?”

The MP for the Quebec riding of Pontiac said he had just returned from a jog and was changing his clothes in his office Wednesday. He did not realize the camera on his laptop was turned on and that his image was being beamed to fellow MPs tuned in to an internal parliamentary feed of virtual proceedings in the House of Commons.

No one watching the public feed saw Amos, since he was not addressing the Commons at the time.

He’d just sat down at his desk to watch the remainder of question period when he started getting text messages from colleagues advising him to turn off his camera.

Amos, the parliamentary secretary to Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, said at first he was hopeful that the embarrassing faux pas would go unremarked when no one raised it during question period.

When Bloc Quebecois MP Claude DeBellefeuille, the party whip, did raise it as a point of order after question period was over, he still hoped it might not blow up into a news story because she did not identify the MP involved.

Those hopes were shattered shortly afterward, however, as a screen grab of him standing naked by his desk was leaked and began circulating on social media.

His first thoughts were about the impact on his family.

“The conversation (about the incident) with my wife, which I’d been sort of delaying, had to happen right away,” Amos said. “And then you start thinking about your parents and your in-laws and your relatives … Your mind is racing.”

The story, and the mortifying screenshot, has since made headlines all around the world, from Malaysia to England. Amos has been the butt of jokes from popular U.S. late-night television show hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. And his Twitter and Facebook feeds have been deluged with “an avalanche” of reaction from around the globe.

“I have relatives in England who found out via The Guardian,” he said.

“It’s corrosive, it’s destructive and it’s all because of one or multiple people’s decision that this was a good idea (to leak it),” Amos said.

Amos stressed: “I’m resolutely not casting myself in a victim posture here … I made a mistake. I’m accountable for not being aware that my camera was on … I have to integrate that into the rest of my life.”

But Amos, an environmental lawyer before first being elected in 2015, said the issue is bigger than the impact on him personally.

He argued that the leak of the screen shot violates parliamentary rules “and without those rules you have a compromised democracy,” in which fewer people will want to run for Parliament or have trust in democratic institutions.

Parliamentary rules prohibit any taking of video or photographs of parliamentary proceedings, including the non-public portions.

Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez asked Thursday that Commons Speaker Anthony Rota investigate who took the screen shot of Amos and who shared it publicly and suggested there could be serious implications.

“Taking a photo of someone who is changing clothes and in the nude and sharing it without their consent could very well be criminal,” Rodriguez said at the time.

Rota took the request under advisement.

Amos said he’s determined not to let the international humiliation distract him from his job. He attended meetings with two snowmobile groups in his riding Wednesday evening and took part in an announcement Friday about an $87-million investment in rural internet service.

But he noted that the same thing could happen to any MP, including someone struggling with mental health issues or who is more vulnerable than he is.

“It wouldn’t be fair to any parliamentarian to have their legacy, within their constituency, across Canada and internationally, for their legacy to be the naked parliamentarian. That’s grossly unfair,” he said.

“Maybe I can bear up better than others. Maybe another parliamentarian wouldn’t be able to integrate this tsunami of attention on one’s private self as well as me.”

That’s why, he said, it is so important to investigate and make sure such a thing never happens again.

To let it drop would be “an invitation to corrosive, democratically destructive behaviour.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Liberals

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

MP Damien Kurek receives his COVID-19 vaccination. (Photo submitted)
Local elected representatives get the jab

MP Damien Kurek and MLA Lovely get their COVID-19 vaccinations

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking Albertans to do their part by observing gathering limits, staying home if unwell, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three new Central zone COVID-19 deaths, Alberta adds 1,433 cases

Red Deer down to 802 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
Alberta RCMP investigating possible threat to police after Mirror rally

Images show RCMP members and vehicles in crosshairs of a rifle

Marc Kielburger, screen left, and Craig Kielburger, screen right, appear as witnesses via video conference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The committee is looking into Government Spending, WE Charity and the Canada Student Service Grant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau didn’t violate conflict rules over WE Charity, watchdog says

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion found that former finance minister Bill Morneau did violate the rules

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

The historic Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne in southern Alberta is up for sale

The lights of several emergency vehicles could be seen near the Sunken Bridge on May 13. (Photo submitted)
Patient airlifted from Ponoka with serious injuries

RCMP, fire, STARS respond to single vehicle rollover May 13

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

New homes are built in a housing construction development in the west-end of Ottawa on Thursday, May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Budget’s foreign-homebuyers tax could bring in $509 million over 4 years, PBO says

Liberals are proposing a one per cent tax on vacant homes owned by foreign non-residents

A Canadian flag patch is shown on a soldier’s shoulder in Trenton, Ont., on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. The Canadian Forces says it has charged one of its members in the death of an army reservist from British Columbia during a training exercise at a military base in Alberta last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
Canadian Forces member charged in death of army reservist during training exercise

Cpl. Lars Callsen has been charged with one count of negligence

A youth plays basketball in an otherwise quiet court in Toronto on Saturday April 17, 2021. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is urging the federal and provincial governments to fight COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on proven public health policy interventions including paid sick leave, and education rather than punitive enforcement measures. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Provinces issued more COVID-19 tickets during 2nd wave: CCLA report

‘A pandemic is a public health, not a public order, crisis,’ reads the report

Most Read