Trudeau says he ‘apologized’ to groped female reporter, but did nothing wrong

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has addressed the claims that he inappropriately touched a reporter in 2000 by saying the interaction wasn’t “in any way untoward” and that he apologized anyway.

“I apologized in the moment,” Trudeau told reporters on Thursday, but he noted that neither he nor his staff have contacted the unnamed reporter.

“I don’t want to presume how she feels now. I haven’t reached out to her, no one on my team has reached out to her. We don’t think that would be appropriate at all,” the PM said.

An outspoken feminist and champion of liberal values, who once famously mansplained to a female constituent that she should use the word “peoplekind” instead of “mankind,” Trudeau presented the incident as some kind of teachable moment about inappropriate sexual behavior.

“I’m responsible for my side of the interaction, which was certainly I don’t feel was in any way untoward. But at the same time, this lesson that we are learning is, and I’ll be blunt about it, often a man experiences an interaction as being benign or not inappropriate, and a woman, particularly in a professional context, can experience it differently, and we have to respect that and reflect on it,” the PM said.

Last month, Canadian political commentator Warren Kinsella posted a photo of a 2000 editorial from the Creston Valley Advance, a small-town newspaper in British Columbia, which said that Trudeau had “groped” one of their female reporters at the Kokanee Summit Festival. The editorial said Trudeau had “apologized — a day late — for inappropriately ‘handling’ the reporter while she was on assignment.”

Trudeau was in town to support an avalanche safety fundraiser, having lost his brother Michel in a 1998 avalanche on Kokanee Glacier.

“My recollections of the conversation were that she came to me because she was unsettled by it,” Valerie Bourne, the former publisher of the Advance, told Canada’s CBC News about seeing the reporter about the incident in 2000. “She didn’t like what had happened. She wasn’t sure how she should proceed with it because of course we’re talking somebody who was known to the Canadian community.”

Trudeau’s father, Pierre, served as PM between 1968–1979 and 1980–1984, and he died in September 2000. Justin delivered the eulogy at his father’s state funeral and later entered politics himself, getting elected to the parliament in 2008 and becoming PM in 2015.

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