Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not only been a huge supporter of women empowerment but has also been very open about how women who come forward with sexual abuse allegation must be believed.
After the #MeToo movement turned into a global phenomenon encouraging women in all professions to take a stand against sexual misconduct and expose the magnitude of this problem, the 46-year-old leader of the Liberal Party said he wasn’t worried about such allegations surfacing against him as he had led a very careful life.
“I've been very, very careful all my life to be thoughtful, to be respectful of people's space and people's headspace as well,” he told CBC Radio's “The House” in a January interview.
He also said there is “no context in which someone doesn't have responsibility for things they've done in the past” and blasted the idea of sexual harassment just being “compliments” taken the wrong way.
“These are not just compliments that were taken wrong, or comments that could have meant nothing,” Trudeau said at the time. “There are situations in the cases that we're discussing these days that fundamentally made women unsafe in the work environment, unsure about themselves and truly affected their lives.”
However, a recently surfaced newspaper article from August 2000 claims Trudeau himself may have engaged in such behavior when he was in his late twenties.
According to an editorial published in British Columbia community newspaper Creston Valley Advance, Trudeau, who was not a political figure at the time but was known for being the son of former Prime Minster Pierre Trudeau, groped a young female reporter at Kokanee Summit Music Festival put on by the Columbia Brewery.
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 reporter was there to cover an event not only for the Creston Valley Advance but also for the National Post and Vancouver Sun, reported Frank magazine.
According to the editorial, Trudeau later apologized to the woman.
“I’m sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward,” he was quoted as saying.
“Shouldn't the son of a former prime minister be aware of the rights and wrongs that go along with public socializing?” read the article. “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?”
Since Trudeau became prime minister in 2015, the allegation has surfaced several times in local newspapers. However, given the ongoing conversation around #MeToo and “Time’s Up” movements, the article has found its way to the social media, where it gained further prominence after right wing website Breitbart News wrote about it.
Meanwhile, Trudeau’s press secretary, Matt Pascuzzo, has since released a statement to the BuzzFeed News.
“As the PM has said before, he has always been very careful to treat everyone with respect. His first experiences with activism were on the issue of sexual assault at McGill, and he knows the importance of being thoughtful and respectful,” he said. “He remembers being in Creston for the Avalanche Foundation, but doesn’t think he had any negative interactions there.”
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Chris Wattie