At a Canada Day event in Regina this weekend, Justin Trudeau finally addressed a recently resurfaced allegation that he groped a reporter at a 2000 festival in B.C. When prodded by the media, the Prime Minister dismissed the charge, saying he remembers the day well, but does not recall the alleged incident occurring.
“I remember that day in Creston well,” he said, “I had a good day that day. I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all.”
The Prime Minister’s Office echoed the stance on Monday, adding that the PM has been a vocal global advocate for gender equality.
“As the Prime Minister has said before, he has always been very careful to treat everyone with respect,” the PMO said, “His first experiences with activism were on the issue of sexual assault at McGill, and he knows the importance of being thoughtful and respectful.”
The 18-year-old allegation was first made in a short entry on the editorial page of the Creston Valley Advance in B.C. The article accuses Trudeau — who was a 28-year-old teacher at the time — of “inappropriately handling” a reporter who worked for the Advance, the National Post and the Vancouver Sun. It also reports that Trudeau made a condescending apology the next day.
“I’m sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward,” the article quotes him.
Trudeau was in town for the Kokanee Summit Festival as part of his avalanche safety activism since his brother, Michel, was killed in one. The event took place in August 2000, less than two months before Pierre Trudeau’s death. Justin was not yet in the national spotlight as more than the former Prime Minister’s son.
The article in question resurfaced at the beginning of June this year and gained international attention when pictures of it were shared on Twitter.
— Warren Kinsella (@kinsellawarren) June 6, 2018
The female reporter was contacted by CBC and told them she prefers not to be named or contacted further by any publication. Her coworkers at the newspaper recalled to CBC the reporter’s reaction after the alleged incident. They said she didn’t come across as “traumatized or distraught ” and that they “would not classify it or qualify it as sexual assault,” but “whatever physical touch or whatever had occurred in that moment was definitely not welcome and definitely inappropriate.”
Trudeau often publicly prides himself on being a champion for gender equality and women’s rights. He did so very explicitly earlier this year when asked about the Me Too movement. He cited his own activism and said that people should have to answer for their inappropriate actions, regardless of how long ago they were committed.
Imagine if a CBC reporter were to ask Justin Trudeau about groping that woman in Creston. Imagine if a CBC reporter were to read Trudeau’s own words here back to him. That reporter would be fired by @gmbutts, just like Butts had Twitter silence a critic. pic.twitter.com/tp3PgQ0ZwD
— Ezra Levant 🇨🇦 (@ezralevant) June 29, 2018
In light of those statements, the dissmissiveness of Trudeau’s response to a groping allegation seems uncharacteristic. Since the journalist has no intention of coming forward, it is unlikely we will see a satisfying resolution to the case.