Former Tory MP Tony Clement appointed to Conservative Fund board: sources

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has named former MP Tony Clement to the board of directors of the Conservative Fund, the federal party’s top fundraising arm, sources say.

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has named former MP Tony Clement to the board of directors of the Conservative Fund, the federal party’s top fundraising arm, sources say.

After a landslide victory in the leadership election over the weekend in which he received nearly 70% of membership support, Poilievre is transitioning to the office of Leader of the Opposition and began to install his picks in key positions.

Clement is one of them, according to multiple sources familiar with the move who confirmed the details of his appointment to The Canadian Press. The sources enjoy anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss party business publicly.

Clement, a cabinet minister under former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, had recently raised money for Poilievre during his successful campaign.

Filings with Elections Canada show they made millions of dollars more than its competitors did.

In 2018, then-party leader Andrew Scheer asked Clement to leave caucus after he was made aware of allegations of sexual impropriety against the former MP, who represented a rural riding in the US. Ontario for the Conservatives since 2006.

These allegations came shortly after Clement’s own admission that he had sent sexually explicit images and a video to someone he thought was a consenting woman – an interaction that turned out to be an attempt to extortion.

Scheer initially said he took Clement at his word that he showed a “terrible lack of judgment” in the sexting incident. But soon after, the former leader said he learned there were “numerous reports of activity of a serious nature” against the longtime MP.

On Thursday, Clement referred questions to the party about his appointment to the Conservative Fund of Canada.

Anthony Koch, a spokesperson for Poilievre, acknowledged a request for comment but did not immediately provide a response.

Clement sat as an independent after leaving the Conservative caucus and decided to quit federal politics ahead of the 2019 federal election, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won re-election.

This election saw him replaced by Scott Aitchison, who finished last against in the recent leadership race.

Since his victory, Poilievre has made other changes to the Conservative Fund board that have yet to be publicly announced.

Sources have confirmed that Toronto lawyer Robert Staley has been chosen to chair the fund, succeeding James Dodds, who was chosen by former executive Erin O’Toole.

Party insiders believe that board appointees wield some power, as they set the party’s budget. Positions also carry prestige. Harper himself sat as one of its members after the Conservatives lost in the 2015 election.

On Thursday, Poilievre delivered his inaugural address in the House of Commons – a tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth and the constitutional monarchy.

After the speeches, MPs — including Liberal cabinet ministers — lined up to shake the Conservative leader’s hand and offer congratulations on his new role.

Social media posts also show that Poilievre met with different caucus members.

In his first days as Leader of the Opposition, the Conservative Party issued an apology for an automated text message allegedly sent to party members who live in the riding of a Quebec MP who has decided to quit of the Conservative caucus after Poilievre’s victory.

Alain Rayes, who decided to sit as an independent after campaigning for former Quebec premier Jean Charest to win the leadership, said he believed Poilievre’s office sent a text message to members of the party in his constituency asking them to encourage him to resign.

The text message seen by The Canadian Press says Rayes decided not to fight inflation with Poilievre’s team and encouraged recipients to call the MP’s office and tell him to quit.

Following the party’s apology on Wednesday night, Rayes released a statement on social media noting that the party had not personally apologized to him.

“To me, bullying in any form is unacceptable,” he wrote Thursday.

“I will never hesitate to speak out vehemently. I want to thank everyone who has shown their support.”

Poilievre also found himself in a verbal tussle with a reporter in Ottawa on Tuesday who interrupted the start of his press conference after learning the new leader would not answer any questions in his first media appearance since his big win. .

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 15, 2023.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press