In his first public acknowledgment of a groping allegation dating back 18 years, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he remembers the day of the alleged incident quite well but does not recall any “negative interactions” at the event.
“I remember that day in Creston well, it was an Avalanche Foundation event to support avalanche safety,” Trudeau told reporters in Regina on Sunday. “I had a good day that day. I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all.”
While Sunday marks the first time that Trudeau has personally addressed the 18-year-old allegation, his office has issued a similar statement since the story first resurfaced weeks ago.
The allegation was first leveled in an unsigned op-ed published by the Creston Valley Advance back in 2000, shortly after the music festival in Creston, British Columbia. The Canadian Press reports:
In the days that followed, an editorial appeared in the Creston Valley Advance alleging Trudeau had apologized to an unnamed female reporter at the newspaper after “groping” her at the event. It alleged he told the woman he would not have “been so forward” if he had known she was reporting for a national newspaper.
The unsigned editorial resurfaced recently and has led to calls for the prime minister to address the allegations.
After weeks of mounting pressure for him to address the old allegation, Trudeau finally provided the press his brief, scripted response on Sunday, but quickly moved on, offering no follow-ups.
The allegation, the Canadian Press notes, is “particularly problematic for Trudeau, who frequently proclaims himself a feminist and has generally taken a zero-tolerance approach to allegations of sexual misconduct within the Liberal party.”
So far, attempts by the Canadian Press to speak with anyone else involved in the alleged incident have been unsuccessful.