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Attempts to expose former Conservative MP Tony Clement’s online sexual activities go back to last summer, women say

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On Wednesday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer requested Clement’s resignation. The demand came less than 24 hours after Clement published a statement claiming he was targeted for “financial extortion” after sending sexual images and a video to an unknown party. Clement claims he believed the person was a consenting female adult.

The Star has interviewed two women who say they met Clement online and went on to have sexual interactions with him. Both women, who know each other and consulted about speaking publicly, asked the Star not to publish their names—one out of concern over Clement’s reaction to her speaking publicly about him; the other because she feared ramifications in her professional life.

The Star has agreed to keep their identities confidential in order to tell their stories in the public interest, as Clement was a senior Conservative figure with high level security clearance.

When presented with a detailed account of the women’s claims Wednesday night, Clement responded by email: “I’m working on a statement that I’ll get to you when I’m comfortable with it. Appreciate it.”

In a statement posted to his personal website Thursday afternoon, Clement confirmed he engaged in multiple “inappropriate exchanges that crossed lines that should have never been crossed.” He said these exchanges led to “acts of infidelity.” One of these exchanges led to a woman being offered money by an anonymous social media account in exchange for intimate and personal information about him, he said.

According to the women’s accounts, sometime last spring or summer Clement became aware of Instagram accounts that sent messages about his behaviour toward women, sought information about him, and posted photos of him. The women said Clement separately told them he had reported this online behaviour to police.

This would mean Clement was aware for months that an unknown party was seeking embarrassing information about him before he publicly revealed the extortion allegations.

As a member of Parliament’s new national security committee, Clement was bound by law to notify the Clerk of the Privy Council—the federal government’s top bureaucrat—of “any change in their personal circumstances that may affect their security clearance.”

Examples spelled out in the law include criminal convictions, a change in financial situation, association with criminals and being “the subject of a law enforcement action.”

The Star reported Tuesday night that Clement flagged the issue to the Privy Council Office days ago, and that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office was made aware. The RCMP is now investigating Clement’s allegation, but refused to say when the investigation was opened.

Cameron Ahmad, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said Thursday that the PMO learned of the alleged extortion against Clement, after the privy council was informed.

The privy council did not immediately respond to the Star about when it was told about Clement’s situation.

The first woman who spoke to the Star is in her early twenties. She said Clement added her on Instagram last year and liked some of her photos. He started sending her direct messages, which she said became flirtatious and then overtly sexual. She said they started consensually sharing intimate messages, and he sent her explicit images.

“He would talk dirty to me, then send me nude photos and videos,” she said.

He asked her more than once to meet for coffee or come to his house, but the woman said she made up excuses to avoid going. She never met Clement in the offline world, she said.

A few months ago—the woman believes it was in June or July—Clement asked her to delete all records of their conversations. She said the MP told her he was concerned his Instagram account was “hacked” and asked her to only speak to him over WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging service.

The woman said she agreed with Clement’s request.

Soon after that conversation, she said an unknown user added her on Instagram. She said the account messaged her and alleged Clement engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviour toward women. The woman, who said she didn’t know who was behind the account, took it as a “warning.”

“I was actually kind of scared,” she said. “I’m still wondering how the heck did they find me?”

The woman provided the Star with a screenshot of the message, which does not show the name of the account. The message is dated July 2.

The woman said she told Clement about the message, and that he “begged” her to believe the message was not true and that she was the only woman he was interacting with. She said Clement sent her a screenshot of a different Instagram account, @pierson476. She said Clement asked her if she had seen that account on Instagram; the woman said she had not.

The woman provided the Star with the screenshot she said Clement sent her. It is timestamped in her phone “7/3/18,” a date she believes is July 3, 2018. The photo shows @pierson476’s profile page, which displays two photos: one of a smartphone displaying a picture of a shirtless Clement, the other what appears to be Clement kissing a woman on the cheek.

The Star was unable to find either account – the one that messaged the woman about Clement, and @pierson476 – on Instagram. The woman said both accounts disappeared soon after these interactions with Clement.

The woman’s ex-boyfriend, whose contact information she provided to the Star, said she messaged him sometime in the summer – he believes before August – to tell him about her online relationship with Clement. He said she also told him about the strange Instagram accounts, and that she sent him the screenshot of @pierson476.

The ex-boyfriend’s phone shows the screenshot was uploaded to his Google Photos application on July 3.

Later, in what the woman recalls to be late July, she spoke with Clement again about the strange Instagram accounts. The woman said Clement told her “someone was after him for money” and that he told her he reported the activity to “the RCMP and police.”

“He was scared,” the woman said. “He said at one point he couldn’t sleep for a week.”

The RCMP refused to say when they received information from Clement or opened their investigation into his claims.

The second woman who spoke to the Star is in her twenties. She, too, met Clement online when he added her on social media. The woman said he started liking her pictures and then started sending her direct messages that often included kiss and heart emoticons.

She said she went on to have an intimate relationship with Clement. She said she decided to end their relationship because the 57-year-old MP is married.

Some time later, in May or June 2018, the woman said she received messages from “two or three” unknown users on Instagram. One of them sent her information about the first woman who spoke to the Star, and the two women connected online at that point, they said.

The second woman said one of the accounts offered her money for information about Clement, but she said she doesn’t recall which account it was.

“This person, whoever it was, was trying to expose his behaviour,” she said.

The woman said Clement was aware of this Instagram activity and flagged one of the accounts to her – @pierson476. She said Clement told her he reported it to the Ontario Provincial Police, and that all of the strange accounts have since disappeared.

The woman does not have any records of her interactions with these accounts, but she provided the Star with a screenshot of a text message conversation with Clement, in which he mentioned he was speaking with police. The woman said she scrolled back in her phone and took the screenshot Thursday, but said the exchange it shows is from July.

Sgt. Carole Dionne, a spokesperson for the OPP, declined to comment Wednesday night. She said the OPP doesn’t confirm if it receives reports from the public, nor does it confirm whether it has started an investigation.

The RCMP declined further comment Thursday, aside from confirming an investigation has been opened at Clement’s request.

Kim Fox, a Canadian journalist in Philadelphia, told the Star she also had unusual interactions with Clement on social media. About three or four years ago, she said he added her to Instagram and started liking her photos. She said she would wake up in the morning and see a “wall” of notifications — sometimes up to 10 or 20, she said.

“It was a joke, I would screen cap them and I would send them to my friends,” she said. “It just made me really uncomfortable … It’s odd behaviour for a public figure.”



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Canada’s wholesale and manufacturing sales fell slightly in November: StatsCan

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The Canadian economy showed signs of weakness in November as both wholesale and manufacturing sales fell.

Statistics Canada said Tuesday wholesale trade fell one per cent in November to $63.0 billion, more than offsetting the 0.7 per cent increase in October.

Meanwhile, manufacturing sales fell 1.4 per cent to $57.3 billion in November, the second consecutive monthly decrease.

Economists had expected no change in wholesale sales and a drop of 0.9 per cent in manufacturing sales, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

TD Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman said the data confirms the moderating growth narrative.

‘Temporary shocks’

« Sub-par manufacturing performance is still expected in the near-term, as Alberta’s production curtailment plan starts to reflect in manufacturing sales volumes, » Abdelrahman wrote in a note to clients.

« It is important, however, to note that these are temporary shocks. As these shocks fade, manufacturing sales should receive support from strong economic performance south of the border, a weaker loonie, and expectations of increases in investment spending in the face of elevated capacity constraints. »

Fabricator Mike Caldarino uses a grinder on a steel stairs being manufactured at George Third & Son Steel Fabricators and Erectors, in Burnaby, B.C., on March 29, 2018. Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 1.4% to $57.3 billion in November, the second consecutive monthly decrease. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Royal Bank senior economist Nathan Janzen noted that labour markets still look solid and, notwithstanding recent market volatility, the U.S. industrial sector is continuing to expand.

« We still expect a ‘data-dependent’ Bank of Canada will ultimately view more gradual rate hikes as appropriate this year — but very likely not until confirmation emerges that the expected slow patch over the next couple of quarters is temporary, » Janzen wrote.

Petroleum, coal down 13.8%

Manufacturing sales were down in 13 of 21 industries, representing 45.3 per cent of total manufacturing sales. In volume terms, manufacturing sales fell 0.9 per cent.

The petroleum and coal product industry fell 13.8 per cent due to lower prices for petroleum and coal products as well as maintenance and turnaround work at some refineries and lower production at other refineries.

Partially offsetting the decline was a 1.3 per cent increase in the transportation equipment industry and a 1.5 per cent increase in the food industry.

Meanwhile, wholesale sales were down in five of seven subsectors. In volume terms, wholesale sales fell 1.2 per cent.

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector fell 2.3 per cent, while sales in the building material and supplies subsector dropped 1.9 per cent.



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Roma, The Favourite lead the Oscar noms with 10 nods each, several Canadians nominated for awards

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Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite led all films with 10 nominations each to the 91st Academy Awards, while Netflix and Marvel each scored their first best picture nomination.

The nominees for best picture are: A Star Is Born, Roma, Green Book, The Favourite, Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody and Vice.

With Roma, Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought. Marvel, too, joined the club with Black Panther, the first superhero movie ever nominated for best picture.

Pixar production Bao by Toronto-raised Domee Shi picked up a nomination for best animated short, as did Animal Behaviour by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden. The live action short film category has two finalists from Montreal — Jeremy Comte for Fauve and Marianne Farley for Marguerite. Other Canadians up for the golden statuette this year include sound mixer Paul Massey for Bohemian Rhapsody and set decorator Gordon Sim for Mary Poppins Returns. Shi is the first female director to helm a Pixar short film.

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The nominees for best actor are Cooper, Christian Bale (Vice), Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) and Viggo Mortensen (Green Book).

Up for best actress are Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Glenn Close (The Wife), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Lady Gaga and Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?).

The nominees for best supporting actress are Amy Adams (Vice), Marina De Tavira (Roma), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Emma Stone (The Favourite) and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite). Tavira was something a surprise, while Claire Foy of First Man was left out.

Up for best supporting actor are: Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) and Sam Rockwell (Vice). Notably snubbed was Timothy Chalamet (Beautiful Boy).

The lead-up to Tuesday’s nominations was rocky for both the film academy and some of the contending movies. Shortly after being announced as host, Kevin Hart was forced to withdraw over years-old homophobic tweets that the comedian eventually apologized for. That has left the Oscars, one month before the Feb. 24 ceremony, without an emcee, and likely to stay that way.

Some film contenders, like Peter Farrelly’s Green Book and the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, have suffered waves upon waves of backlash, even as their awards tallies have mounted. On Saturday, Green Book won the top award from the Producers Guild, an honour that has been a reliable Oscar barometer. In the 10 years since the Oscars expanded its best-picture ballot, the PGA winner has gone on to win best picture eight times.

The season’s steadiest contender — Cooper’s A Star Is Born — looked potentially unbeatable until it got beat. Despite an enviable string of awards and more than $400 million in worldwide box office, Cooper’s lauded remake was almost totally ignored at the Golden Globes. Still, A Star Is Born was the sole film to land top nominations from virtually every guild group.

The academy is reportedly planning to go host-less following Hart’s exit, something it has tried only once before in an infamous 1989 telecast that featured a lengthy musical number with Rob Lowe and Snow White.

The Oscars last year hit a new ratings low, declining 20 per cent and averaging 26.5 million viewers. Though ratings for award shows have generally been dropping, the downturn prompted the academy to revamp this year’s telecast. Though initial plans for a new popular film category were scuttled, the academy is planning to present some awards off-air and keep the broadcast to three hours.



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Peterborough’s new council makes no move to scrap PDI sale to Hydro One – Peterborough

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Although several councillors campaigned on a promise saying they would scrap the sale of Peterborough Distribution Inc., to Hydro One, it appears that fight is over.

After Monday night’s general committee meeting saw a report and update on the state of the sale, not one councillor or the mayor pushed for a motion to kill the deal.


READ MORE:
Peterborough council to get update regarding PDI sale to Hydro One

“I didn’t vote, for example in favour of the site plans for the casino, but it’s there now and we make the best of it,” said Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien, who previously voted against the sale of the PDI, the city-owned electrical distribution arm of Peterborough Utilities.

“I spoke out against the deal when it was happening but you have to recognize that sometimes things don’t always go your way and you still have to make the best of the situation and use those funds in the best possible way for the community.”

Council and city staff met for an hour-long closed-door meeting prior to Monday night’s general committee session and when all sides emerged there was no talk to about the cost or possible litigation that might come from backing away from the sale.

It was back in December, at the first council meeting following the election, where Ashburnham councillor Keith Riel made a motion to request a report from staff to update council on where the deal stood between the city and Hydro One and what the cost would be to scrap the deal if council decided to do so.

But Riel said nothing during Monday night’s meeting about PDI, this despite Peterborough Utilities president and CEO John Stephenson being in attendance and taking some questions.


READ MORE:
PDI sold to Hydro One for $105 million

Councillor Stephen Wright, who campaigned against the sale, and councillor Gary Baldwin were the only ones to publicly ask Stephenson about the sale.

“The report that we are seeing here in public really only advocates for the sale of PDI,” said Baldwin. “But are there any benefits to keeping PDI?”

“There are pros and cons to keeping it as we examined it and there are pros and cons to the path we are proposing,” said Stephenson, who also told council the dividends or profits PDI was paying back to the city were shrinking.

Five years ago Stephenson said the chunk of profits coming back to the city was around $1.1 million, whereas today the profits have shrunk to somewhere around $700,000 and he says the electrical supply business is a changing landscape.


READ MORE:
Sale of Peterborough Distribution Inc. to Hydro One resumes as both sides agree to further discussions

According to city CAO Sandra Clancy’s report, the city and Peterborough Utilities’ board have sunk more than $3.4 million into negotiating the sale of PDI to Hydro One and all the sides are working together to get the sale completed.

At this point, the application for sale is before the Ontario Energy Board who have last say of approval and it’s expected a decision by the OEB will come sometime early in the fall of 2019.

Hydro One has agreed to buy PDI from the city for $105 million, and once the city pays off the debt it owes, it’s expected the sale will net close $55 million, which the city plans to invest.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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