Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (Science) Will Amos responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. 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. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

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

OTTAWA — 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 François-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 Québécois 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.”

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

Just Posted

Chris Scott, owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe, speaks during a rally against measures taken by government and health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 at his cafe in Mirror on Saturday. The Whistle Stop was shut down by AHS for not complying with COVID-19 rules. (Photo by The Canadian Press)
Central Alberta café owner and COVID-19 protester released from custody

Chris Scott was arrested at protest rally outside his cafe on Saturday

Free items can be left in front of homes during this weekend’s Kick it to the Curb event. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Kick It to the Curb runs this weekend in Red Deer

Unwanted items can be left by the curb this weekend in Red… Continue reading

Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro announced Wednesday that Alberta Health will give rapid COVID-19 tests to a local chamber of commerce, who will then distribute them to local businesses. (Photo by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)
Businesses to get access to rapid COVID-19 tests through local chamber of commerce

Alberta Health is partnering with the Alberta Chamber of Commerce to deliver… Continue reading

A 2018 Jayco Pinnacle fifth wheel model 37MDQS valued at over $100,000 was stolen from Masco RV Storage in Wetaskiwin earlier this week. (Photo courtesy of Wetaskiwin RCMP)
A 2018 Jayco Pinnacle fifth wheel model 37MDQS valued at over $100,000 was stolen from Masco RV Storage in Wetaskiwin earlier this week. (Photo courtesy of Wetaskiwin RCMP)
Fifth wheel RV stolen from Wetaskiwin RV Storage compound

Wetaskiwin RCMP is looking for information about a stolen RV. A break-in… Continue reading

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division headquarters in Surrey, B.C., on Friday, April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Jewish group disturbed by reports of Hitler Youth flags in Alberta towns

RCMP spoke to the property owner, who refused to remove the flag

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) celebrates with defenseman Victor Hedman (77) after the team defeated the Dallas Stars during an NHL hockey game Wednesday, May 5, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
Analysis: McDavid NHL’s MVP front-runner in condensed season

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid has 100-plus point season

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (36) makes a save as Maple Leafs defenceman TJ Brodie (78) and Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli (73) look for the rebound during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday, May 8, 2021. The Leafs and the Canadiens will meet in the playoffs for the first time in 42 years when the 2020-21 NHL post-season gets underway.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Singer Celine Dion performs during her first World Tour show called Courage Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Songbird Uncaged: Celine Dion readies return to Las Vegas stage for 10-date run

Starting on Nov. 5, Dion will play 10 dates at the Resorts World Las Vegas theatre

An Empire Day/Victoria Day gathering of school children on Ross Street by the Cenotaph in the 1920s. On the right hand side, are members of the Red Deer Citizens Band (forerunner of the Red Deer Royals). (Photo via Red Deer Archives)
Victoria Day event helped after war

One hundred years ago, on May 24, 1921, a major community event… Continue reading

Gwynne Dyer
Gwynne Dyer: Independence is a one-way gate

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland declared in 2014 that the referendum… Continue reading

Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Chicago, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Most Read