He’s been called a feminist dreamboat by the liberal left, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in hot water now, as allegations of inappropriate behavior have him under political siege.
The allegation – that he groped a female reporter at a music festival in 2000 – is nothing new. His supporters just looked the other way as they held him up as a progressive new leader sensitive to women’ issues. The same feminists who stood behind him as his political career took off in subsequent years are now being asked if they have a double standard, as it appears they gave the handsome young liberal a pass.
Trudeau is famous for his feminist views, as well as his noted criticism of Donald Trump’s policies and tactics on the world stage.
A former reporter now finds herself back in the spotlight as the allegation has resurfaced, thanks to social media.
According to the reporter, Trudeau (who was 28 at the time and not in politics) groped her at the festival when they spoke. He apologized to her the next day, saying he did not know she was with the press.
Rose Knight’s experiences were initially reported on at the time, when an editorial by her paper, The Creston Valley Advance, called out Justin Trudeau for his behavior. Knight was not named at the time, and did not appear to want her name in the public eye. Now that the allegations have resurfaced, however, she has been forced to release a statement.
Knight stands by the account and says “I did not pursue the incident at the time and will not be pursuing the incident further. I have had no subsequent contact with Mr. Trudeau, before or after he became Prime Minister. I enjoyed my career as a reporter, but it ended a long time ago.
“I avoided issuing a statement earlier out of concern for my and my family’s privacy. Beyond this statement I will not be providing any further details or information. The debate, if it continues, will continue without my involvement,” she said.
As the furor over the incident has grown in recent days, Trudeau has spoken out, saying he apologized at the time but also insists he did nothing wrong.
The Canadian Prime Minister has faced media scrutiny in recent weeks about what happened at the charity fundraiser in British Columbia in 2000 after Canadian political commentator and author Warren Kinsella shared the editorial on his blog on June 7 and used the Twitter #MeToo hashtag.
In his first direct comments on the incident on Canada Day last Sunday, the prime minister said he ‘didn’t remember any negative interactions that day at all’, but on Thursday he said ‘I apologized in the moment’ without giving details.
Trudeau is a prominent advocate for women’s rights whose government is working on new legislation against workplace harassment.
Trudeau insists he did nothing wrong at the time, in a statement that is not sitting well with many of the feminists who support him.
‘I’ve been reflecting very carefully on what I remember from that incident almost 20 years ago and, again, I feel, I am confident, I did not act inappropriately,’ Trudeau, 46, told reporters in Toronto in televised remarks on Thursday.
Trudeau, citing the increasingly open discussion in society about sexual assault, conceded the woman in question could have come away from the encounter in August 2000 with a very different interpretation of what had happened.
‘I do not feel that I acted inappropriately in any way but I respect the fact that someone else might have experienced that differently,’ he said.
‘If I apologized later then it would be because I sensed that she was not entirely comfortable with the interaction we had.’
Trudeau said no one on his team had reached out to the women because they did not feel it was appropriate.
At the time, Trudeau was only known as the son of a former prime minister, Pierre Trudeau.
CBC News in Canada has covered the Justin Trudeau scandal extensively, and held this on-air discussion of the developments.
Trudeau has not commented further.
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