Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded on Sunday to allegations that he groped a woman at a music festival in Creston, British Columbia, nearly two decades ago.
“I remember that day in Creston well,” he told reporters during a three-day tour in Regina, Canada. “I had a good day that day. I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all.”
The allegations against Trudeau resurfaced in June when a Twitter user shared a photo of an editorial article written by an anonymous reporter in 2000 in Creston Valley Advance, a local newspaper. The article alleges that Trudeau, then a 28-year-old teacher, groped a female reporter at the Kokanee Summit music festival in 2000.
“I’m sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward,” the editorial quoted Trudeau as telling the reporter after the alleged incident.
Trudeau was not yet prime minister, but was famous at the time for being the son of Pierre Trudeau, who served as Canada’s prime minister for 15 years in the 1970s and ’80s. At the time, Trudeau was visiting the Kokanee Summit to raise money for the Avalanche Foundation, a charity Trudeau became involved with after his younger brother, Michael, was killed in an avalanche in 1998.
According to the editorial, Trudeau apologized for “inappropriately handling” the reporter a day after the alleged incident occurred.
“Shouldn’t the son of a former prime minister be aware of the rights and wrongs that go along with public socializing? 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?” the anonymous reporter wrote in the editorial.
Valerie Bourne, a publisher at the Creston Valley Advance in 2000, told CBC News earlier this year that the anonymous reporter was definitely “distressed” by the incident with Trudeau.
“My recollections of the conversation were that she came to me because she was unsettled by it. She didn’t like what had happened,” Bourne 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.”
She added that she would “not classify it or qualify it as sexual assault.”
The Creston Valley Advance’s editor at the time, Brian Bell, told CBC News that he doesn’t remember the reporter being “traumatized or distraught about it, but reiterated that “whatever had occurred in that moment was definitely not welcome and definitely inappropriate.”