Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under fire after claiming he has no recollection of a story alleging he inappropriately touched a journalist 18 years ago.
Then-28-year-old Trudeau was accused in August 2000 of groping a young reporter at the annual Kokanee Summit musical festival in Creston, British Columbia and reportedly only apologized for the act after learning she worked a community newspaper the Creston Valley Advance.
WOW. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was accused of "groping" a young female reporter on assignment in August 2000. "Like father, like son" reads the editorial. https://t.co/7GiBEd6RIr
— Candice Malcolm (@CandiceMalcolm) June 7, 2018
Here is a slightly better quality image of an editorial in the August 14, 2000 Creston Valley Advance, a local B.C. paper, which claims Justin Trudeau apologized for "inappropriately handling" (or "groping" in the paper's words) a female reporter. pic.twitter.com/fZ748QqWYX
— Sean Craig (@sdbcraig) June 7, 2018
The editorial pans Trudeau’s apology, while taking him to task for his lack of self-awareness as the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
“[S]houldn’t the son of a former prime minister be aware of the rights and wrongs that go along with public socializing?” the writer of the editorial asks.
“Didn’t he learn through his vast experiences in public life, that groping a strange young woman isn’t in the handbook of proper etiquette, regardless of who she is, what her business is or where they are?”
In an opinion column by CBC’s Robyn Urback titled, “Trudeau has boxed himself in with his own zero-tolerance policy on sexual misconduct,” the Canadian prime minister is skewered for his response to the allegation.
If the allegation is false (CBC News continues to investigate the claim) Trudeau doesn’t really have the option, from a political perspective, to say so.
In the current climate, denying the claim is akin to saying, “She’s lying,” which is a taboo phrase for the leader of a government that has made believing women central to its approach to sexual misconduct allegations.
If the allegation is true, on the other hand, Trudeau can’t simply explain, apologize and attempt to move on. It would look like he afforded himself leniency that he’d denied to members of his caucus who were accused of misconduct.
So the prime minister is stuck: he can’t confirm or deny. As a result, his office opted for the most unsatisfactory of all possible responses, telling the National Post that Trudeau does not recall any “negative interactions” in Creston during that time. In other words, Canada’s highest-profile women’s rights advocate has been stricken by a convenient bout of amnesia.
Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen, a conservative lawmaker from Manitoba, believes Trudeau is being dishonest in claiming he does not recall the incident.
“Either Trudeau groped this woman and he needs to own up to it and live up to his own standard , or he didn’t and he should state that,” Bergen tweeted with a link to Urback’s column. “Saying he doesn’t remember doesn’t pass his own test.”
Robyn is right. Either Trudeau groped this woman and he needs to own up to it and live up to his own standard , or he didn’t and he should state that. Saying he doesn’t remember doesn’t pass his own test. https://t.co/9JFQsl78NI
— Candice Bergen (@CandiceBergenMP) June 27, 2018
Bergen further chided Trudeau for saying he does not remember the incident, describing his claim as “not believable.”
“The groping story has been around long enough for the PM to have had time to recollect the day,” the lawmaker added. “Either he did what the editorial said he apologized for, and he knows it, or he didn’t do it, and he would know that too.”
“It’s not believable that Trudeau doesn’t remember.”
The groping story has been around long enough for the PM to have had time to recollect the day. Either he did what the editorial said he apologized for, and he knows it, or he didn’t do it, and he would know that too. Its not believable that Trudeau doesn’t remember. https://t.co/qSlI7b37oY
— Candice Bergen (@CandiceBergenMP) July 2, 2018
Both critics and allies of Trudeau see his handling of the allegation problematic as a leader of the #MeToo movement.
The 43-year-old leader has called for parents to raise their children as feminists and even introduced a federal “gender equity” budget in February to narrow the pay gap between genders.