Selective amnesia can be handy. When confronted with some awkward incident, you can always claim you don’t remember. Memory loss enables you to cast doubt on whether the incident happened at all, without having to actually lie about it. It allows you to evade responsibility for circumstances you really do not want to explain.
But sometimes it’s not all that convincing.
That’s the problem with Justin Trudeau’s carefully crafted response to charges that he groped a reporter back in 2000, when he was a 28-year-old teacher attending a beer-and-music festival in Creston, B.C. Asked about it directly on Sunday, he replied, “I remember that day in Creston well … I had a good day that day. I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all.”
Luckily there was no follow-up question. The follow-up question might have asked about an editorial published a few days after the festival in the Creston Valley Advance, a small community newspaper. The unsigned editorial criticized Mr. Trudeau’s behaviour, citing what it called his inappropriate “handling” of a young female reporter at the festival who was on assignment for both the National Post and the Advance. It also described Mr. Trudeau’s apology. “I’m sorry,” he is alleged to have said. “If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward.”
Hands up if you suspect something happened that Mr. Trudeau would prefer not to own up to today. Hands up, if you think it’s not likely he forgot it.
According to recent reporting by the National Post and others, the reporter discussed the incident with the Advance’s editor and publisher, who both describe it as an inappropriate but brief encounter. The reporter, who apparently wrote the editorial herself, now works for a large company and doesn’t want to pursue the incident further – either for fear of retaliation, as some people conspiratorially suggest, or simply because she prefers a quiet life.
Personally, I don’t much care what Mr. Trudeau did at a beerfest back in 2000. If he did it he should just come clean, do his grovel, take his lumps and move on. But he can’t, because in his zeal to prove his feminist credentials he has insisted that the only appropriate response to any form of sexual misconduct – no matter how slight or how ancient – is zero tolerance and punishment.
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