The birthday of William Amos, a Liberal Party member of the Canadian Parliament who represents the riding of Pontiac, Quebec, isn’t until Dec. 4 — but that didn’t stop him from bringing his birthday suit to a legislative session about eight months early.
CTV News reported Wednesday that Amos was seen standing buck-naked between the flags of Canada and Quebec during a virtual session of the House of Commons. His private parts were hidden by a cell phone he was holding in one hand.
Unlike the Jeffery Toobin incident from last year, in which the longtime legal correspondent was caught — ahem — enjoying himself while on a Zoom call with several of his colleagues, Amos’ wardrobe malfunction appears to have been both innocently motivated and completely unintentional.
“This was an unfortunate error,” Amos said in a Wednesday statement issued via email.
“My video was accidentally turned on as I was changing into my work clothes after going for a jog. I sincerely apologize to my colleagues in the House of Commons for this unintentional distraction. Obviously, it was an honest mistake and it won’t happen again.”
MP Claude DeBellefeuille, the whip for the Bloc Quebecois political party, immediately followed (in French) that “it may be necessary to remind the members, especially the male ones, that a tie and jacket are obligatory, but so are a shirt, boxer shorts or pants.”
“We have seen that the member is in great physical shape, but I think members should be reminded to be careful and control the camera well.”
Thankfully, Amos seemed to understand the gravity of what transpired, and offered an explanation to his colleagues that was, according to CTV News, to their satisfaction.
During an interview, Liberal whip Mark Holland said that Amos was “utterly mortified.” He later added, “I don’t think there was any ill intent — It’s certainly an unfortunate circumstance.”
“I think it’s part of the circumstances of the world we’re in right now, where the line between our home and our office place is so blurred and trying to manage that is sometimes challenging,” Holland noted.
“This is a warning to everybody. You’ve got to really always assume that camera is on and be very careful any time you wander anywhere near that camera that you’re dressed appropriately.”
However, Twitter was far less kind to Amos than his colleagues. The story has made waves internationally, and tweet after tweet mocked the entire situation:
Still if you’re gonna be caught like that better to be well framed: “The liberal member of parliament was captured standing behind a chair near a desk between the Quebec and Canadian flags.”
Cue honorable member jokes…. https://t.co/P1v32qRDDP
— Jon Sopel (@BBCJonSopel) April 15, 2021
Every conservative woman watching William Amos in the virtual House of Commons right now: pic.twitter.com/CKPIQKeDC5
— Mélanie Très Jolie ?? #Parodycabinet (@MelanieTresjoly) April 14, 2021
*Liberal MP William Amos enters the chat*
— Sylvie Soulet (@SylvietheBunnyT) April 15, 2021
Holland released a statement on Twitter on Thursday, following the overwhelming social media response to the story, condemning the actions of those who had leaked the video as a “terrible violation.”
“The Member for Pontiac is an upstanding Member of the House who made an unintentional error; his screen was on while in the middle of getting dressed. It could have happened to any of us. The video was private and not visible to the public.
“Only Members of Parliament or a very small number of staff would have had access to this video. It is forbidden to share video or images from any non-public portions of Parliamentary proceedings. Despite this fact, someone from that small group of people shared the image that is now all over social media,” Holland continued.
My statement with regards to the disturbing dissemination of a photograph during the parliamentary session yesterday. pic.twitter.com/nL7TDOg96w
— Mark Holland (@markhollandlib) April 15, 2021
“Immediately after the event occurred, I received communication from the Bloc and NDP Whips. They both expressed sympathy and made compelling cases that this breach of privacy did not happen from within their offices. The images shared were posted by Post Media and Sun Media.
“I call for their cooperation in the investigation being undertaken by the Speaker’s Office. We must know who is responsible for leaking non-consensual images from a private video feed,” Holland said.
“We must also be assured that the video taken by this person is deleted so that further violations of privacy and decency are not possible.”
Holland concluded his statement by calling on his fellow Parliamentarians for assistance in tracking down the culprit. “This was a cruel, mean-spirited and potentially criminal act … What the Member for Pontiac and his family were subjected to should never happen again.”
Despite the embarrassing situation, Amos appeared to go right back to work during a virtual session — this time, fully clothed.
?? needs a revitalized CEPA that confronts the 21st-century’s challenges! Every Canadian should be able to live their lives free from the effects of harmful chemicals & pollutants. That’s why today we delivered on our commitment to strengthen the ?? Env. Protection Act! ? pic.twitter.com/F8TCFEbCgz
— Will Amos (@WillAAmos) April 13, 2021
While it appears that Amos’ commitment to physical fitness is far superior to mine, I do not think the House of Commons was the right place to show off, even if it was unintentional.
The pandemic, as Holland observed, has blurred the lines between home and work, but is it truly that difficult to turn your Zoom camera off for a few minutes and go change in the bathroom? Even if that would be a legislative faux pas, it would be far less humiliating than what happened instead.
But, for everyone’s sake, I hope Amos remembers his pants next time.
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