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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penelope the cat showed up safe and sound at her owner’s porch after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing)
Penelope, cat and friend of the Victoria HarbourCats, returns home safe

The cat had an after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushes B.C. government to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

Saanich police detectives are investigating a reported sexual assault that occurred near Glanford Park on the evening of Dec. 29, 2020 and have shared an artist’s rendering of the individual. (Image via Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Saanich police release sketch of suspect sought in December sexual assault

Anyone with information asked to contact detectives, Crime Stoppers

The Compost Education Centre is hosting its annual spring plant sale on May 8 at 1216 North Park St. Physical distancing protocols will be in effect during the sale, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Black Press Media file photo)
This weekend: Tenth annual spring plant sale hosted by Victoria Compost Education Centre

The non-profit event Saturday, May 8 will feature numerous varieties of plants, live music

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
West Shore proud owners of B.C.’s first electric school bus

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

OPINION SIG
SOOKE HISTORY – A woman in business: Caroline Throup

Elida Peers | Contributed Who was it that said “Women in Business”… Continue reading

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read