CALGARY, Alberta – A former newspaper reporter said that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to her after what she says was an inappropriate encounter nearly two decades ago.
Rose Knight also confirmed Friday she is the reporter who was referred to in an editorial 18 years ago in the Creston Valley Advance that said she was groped by Trudeau while covering a music festival in British Columbia.
She said in a statement that she doesn't plan to take the matter further.
"I enjoyed my career as a reporter, but it ended a long time ago. I avoided issuing a statement earlier out of concern for my and my family's privacy," she wrote. "The incident referred to in the editorial did occur as reported. Mr. Trudeau did apologize the next day.
"Beyond this statement, I will not be providing any further details or information. The debate, if it continues, will continue without my involvement."
Knight also said she never had contact with Trudeau again.
The alleged incident took place at the Kokanee Summit festival in August 2000, which Trudeau attended to accept a donation for the Kokanee Glacier Alpine Campaign. The prime minister's family launched the campaign after Trudeau's youngest brother, Michel, died in an avalanche in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park in 1998.
Trudeau said Friday that he respects Knight's decision to speak out but remembers the encounter in another way.
"I'm confident that I did not act inappropriately but I think the essence of this is that people can experience interactions differently," he said.
"Part of the lesson that we need to learn in this time of collective awakening is a level of respect and understanding for the fact that people, in many cases women, experience interactions in a professional context and other contexts differently than men."
Trudeau was scheduled to attend an event Saturday with Kent Hehr, a member of Calgary's parliament who lost his cabinet post after an investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct with women. The prime minister said the allegations against him and those against Hehr are different.
"I think people understand that every situation is different and we have to reflect and take seriously every situation on a case-by-case basis," Trudeau said. "That's exactly what we're endeavoring to do."
The unsigned editorial that appeared in British Columbia's Creston Valley Advance said Trudeau "inappropriately handled" a reporter covering the festival and apologized to her by saying, "If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward."
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley was asked about the allegations Friday and said it's important for women to be taken seriously if they come forward.
"Once that happens, we have to make sure that there's a very fair process and that everyone's voice is heard," she said.
"I haven't really dug in too much to the details of this situation and every situation is different. There's no question about it. But I think in all situations, one of the common things that we have to begin with ... is to acknowledge the concern and to treat it with respect and integrity and give it the fair attention it deserves."