Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there is no need to conduct an investigation into an allegation that he inappropriately touched a female reporter in British Columbia 18 years ago.
“We have, as we always do, taken these issues seriously,” Trudeau said in an exclusive interview with CP24, when asked if the allegation that circulated throughout the national press over the last few weeks should be investigated. “We’ve talked to a broad range of experts on these. I’ve been reflecting very carefully on this and I think we are moving forward in the right way.”
On Aug. 4, 2000, a then 28-year-old Trudeau was in Creston Valley, B.C. to participate in a festival when he allegedly had an improper physical interaction with a newspaper reporter who was covering the event.
A woman who identifies herself as Rose Knight, the former reporter, confirmed Trudeau apologized a day after the incident occurred in a statement.
In the statement, she also confirmed she was the reporter that was referred to in an editorial written in the local Creston Valley Advance 18 years ago.
“I’m sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward,” the editorial said of Trudeau’s apology.
The statement regarding the incident was released on Friday.
“I did not pursue the incident at the time and will not be pursuing the incident further,” she said in the statement. “I have had no subsequent contact with Trudeau, before or after he became prime minister.”
Speaking to CP24 on Friday, Trudeau said he didn’t recall improper behaviour on his part, but apologized anyway.
“There’s a lot of uncertainties around this. In terms of my recollection there was no untoward or inappropriate action but she was in a professional context. Who knows where her mind was and I fully respect her ability to experience something differently.”
He indicated the incident should serve as part of the ongoing discussion about appropriate conduct.
“That’s the whole conversation we have to be having around this. People experience things differently and we have to be more thoughtful and that’s a big part of the collective awakening we have to have.”
Trudeau addressed the statement issued by the former reporter while speaking in Calgary on Friday evening.
“I would never presume to speak for her or to have a perspective on how she should feel or should act on this,” he said. “I respect very much her right and her ability about what is best for her and her family. I obviously will continue to stand as a defender of understanding and respect for individuals and the experiences they go through.”
Since 2014, three male Liberal MPs – Massimo Pacetti, Scott Andrews and Darshan Kang — have been removed or resigned from caucus over allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct. A fourth MP, Kent Hehr, resigned his post in cabinet over allegations of harassment.