Categories: AnalysisCanadian News

Where Has Justin Trudeau’s Feminism Gone?

It’s funny isn’t it?

The human capacity for hypocrisy is truly an incredible thing.

Only a mere six months ago, Justin Trudeau stood before a crowd of the world’s elite, in Davos and proclaimed that:

“#MeToo, Time’s Up, the Women’s March, these movements tell us that we need to have a critical discussion on women’s rights, equality and the power dynamics of gender. …Sexual harassment, for example — in business and in government — is a systemic problem and it is unacceptable. As leaders, we need to act to show that truly, time is up.”

Following up on the topic a few days later Trudeau proclaimed in an interview with the CBC:

“These are not just compliments that were taken wrong, or comments that could have meant nothing. There are situations in the cases that we’re discussing these days that fundamentally made women unsafe in the work environment, unsure about themselves and truly affected their lives . . .There are no frivolous approaches that have been highlighted so far.”

That last line is the key one.

It’s awfully convenient for Mr. Trudeau that prior to his case, every other sexual harassment claim had been with merit but now, with his own reputation on the line, he can’t recall any “negative interactions.”

That convenient interpretation certainly hasn’t been offered to other members of the Liberal’s caucus in the past. In fact, under Trudeau’s leadership the Liberal Party has held itself to a high standard of zero tolerance for sexual misconduct or harassment. Just ask Kent Hehr or Darshan Kang – it doesn’t take much for the Party to launch an investigation and hand out a particular ruling.

To be perfectly fair however, each of these situations had been different and the decision to launch an investigation or dismiss the allegations must be made on a case by case basis, purely based upon the evidence available at the time.

However, in the case of the Prime Minister, this cannot be reduced to an allegation made by a woman  relying on he said – she said evidence. There is actual documentation from a local newspaper describing the interaction between Trudeau and the female reporter.

If investigations can be launched based upon mere claims of sexual harassment, why not when there is an actual written description of the interaction?

Even if, as Trudeau claims, “the same interactions can be experienced very differently from one person to the next,” why can’t an independent investigator launch an inquiry to listen to both sides and figure out exactly what happened in Creston 18 years ago?

Despite the CBC reporting that the woman involved in this interaction does not want to be associated with further coverage of this story, the least Trudeau could do (in order to stay consistent with his own standards) is offer to subject himself to an investigation, pending the woman’s approval.

Of course, given the political inconvenience of such an investigation, it is highly unlikely the PM would ever do such a thing.

Who knows how it would play out? Maybe it’s just as Trudeau proclaims; a benign interaction from his point of view, that left the woman feeling differently. Maybe all that’s necessary here is a simple apology from Trudeau allowing everyone involved to move on.

For someone who is (was?) seen by many as one of the world’s premiere male feminists, his personally malleable standards of sexual harassment will certainly not boost his feminist credentials.

If Trudeau is serious about being a leader in the #timesup and #metoo movements, he needs to hold himself up to his own standards and treat these allegations the same way he would for anybody else in his caucus.

Lucas Holtvluwer

Lucas is a current Sales and Marketing student at Niagara College and a former federal Conservative staffer reporting and writing on everything from politics to sports.

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Lucas Holtvluwer

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