'I do not feel that I acted inappropriately': PM Trudeau on 'groping' allegation
Published Thursday, July 5, 2018 4:47PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 5, 2018 5:54PM EDT
OTTAWA – Speaking at length for the first time since an 18-year old allegation of "groping" a female reporter recently resurfaced, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he remains confident he did not act in a way that was “untoward.” However, he acknowledged the woman who made the allegation may have experienced their interaction differently.
"I do not feel that I acted inappropriately in any way, but I respect the fact that someone else might have experienced that differently," Trudeau told reporters at Queen’s Park in Toronto after meeting with new Ontario Premier Doug Ford Thursday.
Asked about the allegation, Trudeau said the interaction at a 2000 music festival in Creston, British Columbia, has been front-of-mind recently.
"I've been reflecting very carefully on what I remember from that incident almost 20 years ago… I feel, I am confident that I did not act inappropriately but part of this awakening that we are having as a society, a long-awaited realization is that it’s not just one side of the story that matters. That, the same interactions can be experienced very differently from one person to the next and I am not going to speak for the woman in question," Trudeau said.
According to a Canadian Press report, in the days after the music festival, the Creston Valley Advance newspaper published an editorial alleging Trudeau had apologized to an unnamed female reporter at the newspaper after "groping" her at the event. The editorial alleged that Trudeau had said to the woman that if he had known she worked for a national newspaper, he would not have touched her.
On Thursday, Trudeau acknowledged his apology to the woman at the time, saying that it would have been because he sensed she was not comfortable with their interaction. But he said that now and at the time the editorial came out, he was "very confident that I hadn't acted in a way that I felt was in any way inappropriate."
The person involved has indicated no interest in speaking to the matter, and Trudeau said neither he nor anyone on his team has reached out to her, saying doing so would be inappropriate.
"I would never presume to speak for her, but I know there is an awful lot of reflection to be had as we move forward as a society," he said.
Asked about why he has not prompted an investigation into the matter, as has been done in cases with MPs from all federal parties when allegations of improper behaviour have been brought forward, Trudeau did not directly address the question, rather speaking to the broader #MeToo movement and the lessons being learned through it.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told CP24 that Trudeau has set a standard for the handling of these kinds of allegations within his caucus and he thinks the prime minister still has more to explain about the allegation.