An editorial column printed 18 years ago in the Creston Valley Advance alleging inappropriate behaviour by future Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went viral on social media this week.
In a blog post, political commentator Warren Kinsella featured a clip of an Advance editorial dated Aug. 14, 2000 called “Open Eyes.”
It alleges that Trudeau, then 28 years old, apologized to a female reporter for acting inappropriately toward her while she was on assignment for the Advance.
Trudeau had been in Creston to celebrate the Kokanee Summit festival, organized by the Columbia Brewery, and accepted $18,500 raised for a campaign his family had launched in memory of Justin’s brother, Michel, who died in an avalanche near Nelson in 1998.
A story published earlier in the Advance, entitled “Mixed reaction to camp Kokanee” on Aug. 10, details the event’s party-like atmosphere, with plenty of drinking and dancing to live music. However, one woman was quoted anonymously as saying, “It wasn’t a good place to be if you’re female,” saying she was touched several times inappropriately.
Black Press Media currently publishes the Advance, which it acquired from Glacier Media in 2010.
Black Press said Friday it is aware of the attention the editorial is getting and that it is conducting an investigation, but that it is “not in a position to confirm or deny any relevant fact nor to substantiate that fact supports any opinion or conclusion currently receiving attention.”
Responding to a request for comment, Prime Minister’s Office spokesperson Matt Pascuzzo stated: “As the PM has said before, he 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.
“He remembers being in Creston for the Avalanche Foundation, but doesn’t think he had any negative interactions there.”
Valerie Bourne, the publisher at the time, was reached by phone and said she does not know who wrote the editorial in her three-person newsroom. The editor at the time has told Black Press he was on vacation when the editorial was published, and does not know who wrote it.
Attempts to contact the female reporter have been so far unsuccessful.