As It Happens

Fredericton widow who called Trudeau a 'piece of s--t' says she lashed out in a moment of pain

Melissa Robichaud says she wants her sons to know their father is just as important as the two police officers who were killed in last week's Fredericton shooting.

Melissa Robichaud says she swore at the PM during a condolence call because she was 'so hurt at that time'

Melissa Robichaud and her husband, Donnie, split up in December but remained friends, talking often. (Submitted by Melissa Robichaud)
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Melissa Robichaud says she wants her sons to know their father, Donnie Robichaud, is just as important as the two police officers who were killed in last week's Fredericton shooting.

The widow, who is separated from her husband, made headlines this week after she admitted she called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a "piece of s--t" for not reaching out to her family on Sunday when he was in the city to pay public tribute to Constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns at city hall.

Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright were also gunned down at the apartment complex on the city's north side.

She made the remark to Trudeau when he reached out with his condolences — several days after his visit. 

"The Prime Minister reached out to personally offer his condolences to the families of the victims," Trudeau's spokesperson Chantal Gagnon said in an emailed statement. "We cannot imagine what they are going through. He offered our support to the families and will continue to do so."

Since making those comments, Robichaud said her family has become the centre of a political firestorm. But all she wants is for her children's father to be remembered for the "amazing" man that he was.

Here is part of her conversation with As It Happens guest host Matt Galloway. 

A lot of people have been remembering Donnie over the course of the last seven days, and I know people have been reaching out to you. One, as we know, was the prime minister. Describe how this conversation with the prime minister went.

I'm not going to do that, I'm sorry. There's a lot of things going on on Facebook that's already hurt my family enough over this.

What do you mean?

A lot of people are talking about the things that I said. ... My sons are on Facebook and they read posts and it hurts them, and I think they've been hurt enough.

Donnie Robichaud was most proud of his two teenaged sons, Draiden and Zakk, his wife says. (Submitted by Melissa Robichaud)

Do you have any regrets about what was said, or how the conversation went?

I wish I was in my right state of mind when I was talking to him. I wish I wasn't so hurt at that time.

But do I regret saying what I said? Yes and no. 

Yes and no — what do you mean? 

Justin Trudeau, he's supposed to protect us all. That's his this job, right? He's there for us.

He came and told me that he was busy with the families of the cops. That's why he didn't reach out.

I don't care about me. It's not me. It's my sons. He needed to reach out to them.

But do I regret saying it? I shouldn't have said it, because it's not my place to say.

I think a lot of people could sympathize with the hurt and the frustration that you'd obviously be going through in the moments, in the hours and the days after this. You said that you didn't want your sons seeing their father being treated, I guess, with any less respect...

Disrespected.

Yeah.

They felt like he wasn't important enough. That is why I was angry.

My oldest said, basically he told me that his dad wasn't important enough to be mentioned. His dad wasn't important enough for him to reach out to them. 

How is that fair?

What did you say to your son when he said that to you?

What can I say? I have no answers. Trudeau's the only one with that answer. And his answer was he was too busy with the other families. 

Melissa Robichaud and her children, 16-year-old Draiden and 17-year-old Zakk, are trying to piece together why someone shot and killed the boys' father. (Julia Wright/CBC)

Given the, I guess, the infrastructure that's around police forces and the fact that when a police officer is killed, there's that whole machinery that kicks into place....

Absolutely. They lost two of their own. And my condolences completely to them.

One of them showed up for Donnie's viewing and she gave her condolences. She came out of uniform. 

What did that mean to you when she came?

That meant everything in the world. To have one of them come to me when they've lost one of their own? That meant everything.

How do you want to see Donnie remembered?

The amazing man he was. A good father. Like, he loves those two boys with all of his heart.

The three most important things to that man were his two boys and his bike, and I will say, his daughter. He has a daughter and a grandson.

He can be remembered for a lot of things, but being a father is the most important to him.

How do you think you and you and your sons will remember Donnie?

[voice cracks] The bike, honestly. The bike, which has been passed down my son, who's going for his bike licence. It's to be with us forever so, I mean, he's always going to be with us.

The Prime Minister's Office has said that it will continue to offer its support and that he will continue to offer his support. What would you want from the prime minister at this point?

Me and Donnie were separated. I was in a relationship. He was in a recent relationship. That doesn't mean I didn't love that man. I spent since I was 14 with him. He was my entire life.

But it's those kids. It's my kids that are more important to me than anything in the world. And if he's going to reach out and help anybody, it's, I hope, to their advantage.

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from Canadian Press. Produced by Kevin Robertson. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. For more, listen to audio in the player above.