On Sunday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced questions about allegations that he had groped a young woman at a music festival in British Columbia 18 years ago.
At an event for steel and aluminum workers at Regina in western Canada, a reporter asked Trudeau, 46, to address the allegations.
“I remember that day in Creston well. It was an Avalanche Foundation event to support avalanche safety. I had a good day that day. I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all,” he said, nodding and smiling to reporters.
The allegations against the prime minister, who has said he has “no tolerance” for sexual harassment, recently resurfaced when popular political commentator and Trudeau critic Warren Kinsella tweeted a picture of the editorial June 6 with the hashtag #MeToo. His tweet was later picked up by various outlets, including Breitbart.
In 2000, an unsigned editorial appeared in the Creston Valley Advance, a community paper. The editorial suggests Trudeau, then a 28-year-old teacher, groped a young, female Advance reporter covering the Kokanee Summit Festival in Creston, British Columbia. The annual festival was raising funds for the Avalanche Foundation, in which the Trudeau family became active after Michel Trudeau, the prime minister’s brother, died in an avalanche in Kokanee, the National Post reported.
The name of the reporter involved remains unknown. According to the National Post, she is no longer in journalism.
The Creston editorial did not include details of the alleged groping incident but wrote that the reporter involved felt “blatantly disrespected” and that Trudeau allegedly apologized a day later for “inappropriately handling” her. Response to the editorial at the time was “muted,” a former publisher of the paper said.
The Advance’s publisher at the time told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. this week that she recalled talking to the reporter involved in the incident.
“My recollections of the conversation were that she came to me because she was unsettled by it,” she said. “She wasn’t sure how she should proceed with it because of course we’re talking somebody who was known to the Canadian community.”
Trudeau’s response on Sunday mirrored a statement given by a spokesman for the prime minister’s office in early June.