Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has come out in his defense, saying that he can't recall the slightest “negative interaction” with a reporter who has accused him of groping her 18 years ago.
The incident occurred when Trudeau was a 28-year-old teacher. He was attending a beer-sponsored music festival in the British Columbia that was raising funds to support avalanche safety measures. Trudeau's brother Michael was killed in 1998 in an avalanche.
An unsigned editorial was published in the local newspaper, Creston Valley Advance, a few days after the event accusing Trudeau of “inappropriately handling” and “groping” an unnamed female journalist who was reporting on the event.
The editorial offered little details apart from saying that the woman felt “blatantly disrespected.” It also alleged that Trudeau offered an apology at the time, saying “I'm sorry” and that if he had known the woman was “reporting for a national newspaper” he “never would have been so forward.”
Questioned about the report Sunday for the first time as Canadian Prime Minister, Trudeau said, “I remember that day in Creston well. I had a good day that day. I don't remember any negative interactions that day at all.”
However, the then publisher of the newspaper, Valerie Bourne, said she recalls the female reporter being “distressed” by the encounter with Trudeau. “My recollections of the conversation were that she came to me because she was unsettled by it.”
Bourne said Trudeau inappropriately touched the reporter while she was talking to him.
“She didn’t like what had happened. She wasn’t sure how she should proceed with it, because of course, we’re talking to somebody who was known to the Canadian community.”