All harassment claims must be taken seriously, says Notley of Trudeau groping allegation
'I think it's a good start here that her concerns have been acknowledged,' Alberta premier says
When asked about a two-decade-old claim that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau inappropriately touched a female reporter, Alberta's premier said all allegations of sexual harassment need to be taken seriously.
"In all cases, when people, usually women, raise these issues, they need to be taken very, very seriously," Premier Rachel Notley told media on Friday before joining the Calgary Stampede Parade.
On Thursday, Trudeau said he had reflected on the accusation and felt "confident" that he had not acted inappropriately at the time.
The incident in question allegedly took place in 2000, when Trudeau was 28, at the Kokanee Summit in Creston, B.C. The event was raising money for the Avalanche Foundation, a charity Trudeau became involved with after his brother, Michel, died in an avalanche in 1998.
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After the event, an unsigned editorial was published in the local paper, the Creston Valley Advance.
The editorial accused Trudeau of "groping" and "inappropriately handling" a young female reporter, and suggested she felt "blatantly disrespected" but provided no other details about the incident.
"I think it's a good start here that her concerns have been acknowledged. That's what we have to do," Notley said.
"Once that happens, we need to make sure there is a fair process and that everyone's voice is heard. I think that's part of a larger conversation that people's voices are heard."
Notley said she hasn't looked into the details of the allegation, but that all claims should be heard.
"Every situation is different. There's no question about it," Notley said.
"But I think … in all occasions, one of the common things that we have to begin with in all situations is to acknowledge the concern and treat it with respect and integrity and give it the fair attention it deserves."
The woman issued a statement on Friday, saying she represents "no organization, no media outlet and no movement, whether political or otherwise."
"I issue this statement reluctantly, in response to mounting media pressure to confirm that I was the reporter who was the subject of the Open Eyes editorial, published in the Creston Valley Advance in August of 2000," it read.
"The incident referred to in the editorial did occur, as reported. Mr. Trudeau did apologize the next day. I did not pursue the incident at the time and will not be pursuing the incident further. I have had no subsequent contact with Mr. Trudeau, before or after he became prime minister."
The statement adds the woman left journalism several years ago and does not want to be further involved in the issue.
"The debate, if it continues, will continue without my involvement," read the statement.
While Trudeau has said he is confident he did not behave inappropriately, he also acknowledged that the woman in question may not have viewed the interaction the same way.
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With files from Mike Symington and Peter Zimonjic.