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

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Brad MacKenzie, advocacy chair for the ALS Society of B.C., says having research projects in the province allows people here to have access to cutting-edge treatments now being developed. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds research chair for Lou Gehrig’s disease at UBC

Pandemic has cut off patient access to international projects

Most Read