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

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

File photo
Paramedic training returning to Castlegar

Emergency Medical Responder and Primary Care Paramedic training to take place in Castlegar

Emerson Potter, a Grade 3 student at Blewett Elementary, advocated for changes to help him use his wheelchair on the school grounds. He’s seen here with his parents Lindsay Thompson and Keith Potter, and Blewett principal Tim Mushumanski (right). Photo: Tyler Harper
‘Pretty awesome’: Nelson-area student advocates for school to improve outdoor accessibility

Emerson Potter, who lives with cerebral palsy, had trouble moving around Blewett Elementary’s grounds

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

People will be strapping on the inline skates in Castlegar this summer. Photo: Jennifer Small
Castlegar Skating Club offers new summer inline program

New program will let ice skaters continue their training through the summer

From the left: Laura Greaves, Kyle Whyte and Steve Bigelow rescued a poisoned eagle Sunday, May 9. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
West Kootenay residents, Conservation Service Officer save poisoned eagle

CSO Kyle Bueckert released the eagle into the wild Thursday, May 13

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

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

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardener finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen outside a hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP/Channi Anand)
B.C. donates $500K to Red Cross COVID-19 relief efforts in India

The money will provide oxygen cylinders and ambulances for patients in communities grappling with the virus

Superintendent Aaron Paradis, community services officer with the Surrey RCMP, during a media availability about a recent drug bust in Port Coquitlam. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Police seize 13 million ‘potentially fatal doses’ of pure fentanyl at B.C. drug lab

The evidence was seized at large, illicit drug manufacturing site in Port Coquitlam

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth debates the province’s latest measure to control crime, March 10, 2021. The legislation allows police to impound vehicles used to transport weapons and further restricts sale of vehicle and body armour. (B.C. legislature video)
B.C. seeking ways to ‘name and shame’ gangsters, minister says

Mike Farnworth appeals to family members to talk to police

Most Read