According to the American Psychological Association, gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which someone “attempts to cause another individual to doubt his/her own judgments and perceptions.”

The term originated with the 1938 stage play Gaslight and its film versions in 1940 and 1944. In Gaslight (1944) Gregory (Charles Boyer) makes Paula (Ingrid Bergman) believe that she is losing her mind.

Gaslighting isn’t limited to romantic relationships. Politicians sometimes use it as a communications strategy. It also allows a male politician to disagree with a female accuser without calling her a liar.

Case in point: Justin Trudeau has gaslit two women who have accused him of wrongdoing. An August 2000 editorial stated that Trudeau groped a female reporter at a music festival that same year.

In 2018, after Rose Knight confirmed that she was the reporter, Trudeau said, “In terms of my recollection there was no untoward or inappropriate action… Who knows where her mind was and I fully respect her ability to experience something differently.”

As a supporter of the Me Too movement, Trudeau was in a no-win situation.

He had to follow the Me Too mandate of “believe all women,” but he also couldn’t admit to any wrongdoing. His solution was to show “respect” for Knight’s perception of their encounter.

However, there is all the difference in the world between having a correct perception of reality and experiencing it differently. If someone took LSD and saw pink elephants, it would be absurd to say you respect their “ability to experience something differently.”

Trudeau’s “respect” for Rose Knight is not unlike the respect a doctor has for a mentally-ill patient. When Trudeau says that she experienced the incident differently, he is tacitly saying that she has a wrong (or distorted) perception of what happened.

Knight is being gaslit by the Prime Minister. He wants Canadians to believe him, not her.

It seems likely that Trudeau did touch Rose Knight inappropriately. She told the publisher who wrote the editorial that Trudeau touched her buttocks.

When CBC News contacted the PMO to confirm if that is what happened, his staff did not return their call.

If Trudeau didn’t touch Rose Knight’s buttocks, why didn’t he issue a statement that no such incident occurred? The lack of response, in my opinion, points to Trudeau’s guilt. As Marcus Cicero once said, “Though silence is not necessarily an admission, it is not a denial, either.” To avoid lying, politicians often refuse to answer certain questions.

Rose Knight isn’t the only woman who has accused Trudeau of wrongdoing. In February 2019, Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned as Minister of Veteran’s affairs. The former Attorney General said “from September to December 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government” to drop criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin.

In response to Wilson-Raybould’s allegations, Trudeau used the same communications strategy he did with Knight. He said, “I now understand that she saw it differently.” Trudeau showed respect for Wilson Raybould’s perception of what happened, but he didn’t admit to any wrongdoing. Trudeau wants Canadians to believe that she has a wrong perception of what happened.    

There is overwhelming evidence the PMO did put pressure on Wilson-Raybould to drop the charges against SNC-Lavalin. In a leaked audio recording, the Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick told Wilson-Raybould in December 2018: “[Trudeau] is quite determined, quite firm but he wants to know why the DPA route which Parliament provided for isn’t being used. And I think he is gonna find a way to get it done one way or another.”

Wernick’s prediction (or warning) came true. The following month, Wilson-Raybould was demoted to Veteran’s Affairs. The Attorney General is supposed to be independent of the Prime Minister, but when Wilson-Raybould didn’t do what Trudeau wanted, she lost her position.

Justin Trudeau is a self-proclaimed male feminist, but that doesn’t stop him from gaslighting women who accuse him of wrongdoing. His motive is one of self-preservation.

To protect his public image and keep his job as Prime Minister, he can’t admit the truth.

If he apologizes and admits that his female accusers are right, then Canadians will know that he is not the feminist he claims to be.

Christopher Lindsay is the author of Letters from a Madman.  Follow him on Twitter.