Early last month, a Canadian blogger posted an 18-year-old newspaper editorial on Twitter that made an eyebrow-raising accusation. That story is now getting pickup, and it involves Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and an incident that allegedly happened at a British Columbia music festival. The Guardian and CBC report that in 2000, the 28-year-old Trudeau, then a teacher, attended the Kokanee Summit fest to raise money for avalanche safety (his brother Michel was killed in an avalanche in 1998). But an un-bylined editorial in the Creston Valley Advance shortly after the festival claimed Trudeau had done more than listen to some tunes at the event, accusing him of "groping" and "inappropriately handling" a female reporter there. The writer says Trudeau apologized the day after the fest, saying, "If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward."
Trudeau was asked about the incident Sunday. "I remember that day in Creston well," he told reporters. "I had a good day that day. I don't remember any negative interactions that day at all." The CBC made contact with the alleged victim, believed to have written the editorial herself, earlier this year, and she told the outlet not to ID her or contact her again about the story. Valerie Bourne, the publisher of the Advance at the time, says she remembers that the reporter was "unsettled" about the alleged incident. "It was a brief touch," Bourne notes. "I would not classify it or qualify it as sexual assault." The paper's former editor, Brian Bell, meanwhile, deems the reporter of "high character." "I don't recall that the reporter was … traumatized or distraught about it, but definitely that, whatever … had occurred in that moment was definitely not welcome and definitely inappropriate," he says. (Read more Justin Trudeau stories.)