On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denied he had “negative interactions” at a 2000 music festival in Creston, British Columbia, when an editorial resurfaced accusing Trudeau of sexual harassment at the event when he was 28.

The charity event was to raise funds in support of avalanche safety. Trudeau had become involved following the death of his brother two years earlier.

In a statement to BuzzFeed his press secretary Matt Pascuzzo said: “The PM has always been very careful to treat everyone with respect. His first experiences with activism were on the issue of sexual assault at McGill, and he knows the importance of being thoughtful and respectful.” Pascuzzo added, “He remembers being in Creston for the Avalanche Foundation, but doesn’t think he had any negative interactions there.”

The allegation was first published in an editorial by the Creston Valley Advance in August 2000. Trudeau was already famous in the country as the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. In the editorial, Trudeau was accused of groping one of the publication’s reporters. The editorial includes an apology from Trudeau. “I’m sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward,” he reportedly said at the time, according to The Sun.

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According to CBS News, the former publisher of the newspaper, Valerie Bourne, said after speaking with reporter at the time, Trudeau’s actions were “definitely not welcome and definitely inappropriate.” Bourne added, “It was a brief touch. I would not classify it or qualify it as sexual assault.”


The allegation resurfaced last month after Canadian political commentator Warren Kinsella tweeted a picture of the editorial along with the #MeToo hashtag.

Since becoming the leader of Canada, Trudeau has flaunted his feminist credentials and adopted a zero tolerance politic within his own Liberal Party toward sexual misconduct. In an interview with CBC News, Trudeau said, “I’ve been very, very careful all my life to be thoughtful and to be respectful of people’s space and people’s headspace as well.”

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