Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed back Thursday on assertions of misconduct dating from a music festival in British Columbia in 2000, saying he was confident he “did not act inappropriately” at the event. Discussion about the incident had arisen in Canadian political circles in response to the resurfacing of an unsigned editorial in the Creston Valley Advance, a local British Columbia newspaper.
In the editorial, a then 28-year old Trudeau is quoted as apologizing to a reporter of the paper (a woman who remains unidentified) for “handling,” stating that if he had known she was “reporting for a national newspaper, I never would have been so forward.”
Addressing the public conversation about the incident for the second time on Thursday, Trudeau acknowledged that the individual in question may have experienced the interaction “very differently.” When originally addressing reports of the incident on Sunday, Trudeau stated that he didn’t remember any “negative interactions” from the music festival almost twenty years ago, despite having been quoted as apologizing to an anonymous individual.
Trudeau did acknowledge the apology described in the original piece, stating that he had “apologized in the moment” without going into detail about what he was apologizing for.
Trudeau has built a reputation in Canadian politics and internationally as a supporter of feminist and social justice causes, even going so far as to insist that a young female Canadian asking him a question at a public event rephrase her use of the term “mankind” as “peoplekind.” Trudeau’s dismissal of a plausible claim of abuse- in this case described originally as “inappropriate handling” stands at odds with his approach towards other individuals accused of misconduct.
In January, Kent Hehr, a member of the Canadian Parliament who served as the Minister of Veteran’s Affairs in Trudeau’s Cabinet, was forced to resign after making suggestive comments to a woman in an elevator. Trudeau accepted his resignation, stating that as Prime Minister he “would take any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously, and we believe that it is important to support women who come forward with allegations and that is exactly what our government will do.”
It remains to be what exactly Trudeau’s government will do in response to the allegations directed against Trudeau himself.
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