When Do We Draw the Line?

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The Black Sheep Weekly concept began simply as an idea.

Its purpose was to critically engage with issues in Current Affair as well as expressing artistic creativity. I don’t think that the following story is any indication that the BSW purpose is any less relevant than its inception in 2017.

The current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, over the last few days has been accused of groping allegations. Obviously, in the era of the #metoo movement, these sorts of allegations appear admittedly serious.

My initial reaction to this story was the following:

“Oh no, here we go. Another famous public figure is about to be taken down by the forces of karma out of justice for past crimes.”  (See Harvey Weinstein)

But Isocrates… what actually happened?

Apparently 18 years ago Trudeau was accused of groping a female journalist. He has recently denied these accusations going so far as to claim he has no memory of “negative interactions”.

Again, this seems like the classic setting for a potentially Harvey Weinstein scenario:

We have sexual harassment accusations from the past directed at a prominent figure in the public eye.

As any normal sceptic would assume, Trudeau’s response seems very dubious. Why would he not confront these allegations head-on to stop the current frenzy of Canadian media, when confronted on this topic?

It seems that what he’s decided to do is ignore.

Now, I need to remind my readers that I work with the facts made available to me at the time of publishing. It could so happen that when reading this more details have emerged which entirely contradict my argument here today. Until these facts come to light, however, allow me to continue.

Firstly, something did seem to occur 18 years ago on August the 4th of 2000. During Canada Day,  it seems that Trudeau did engage in some form of physical misconduct. Whether or not this was sexual and done with malicious intent is again unclear. What is clear is an apology from Trudeau was demanded by the apparent victim at the time.

Now, these allegations have come at a time where we have seen a large reaction to systemic sexual harassment against women. At the same time, Canada has emerged as the shining light for progressive liberals in a world where conservatism is making a comeback.

The iconic flag-bearer for the Canadian liberal agenda is none other than their Prime Minister Trudeau. He has been a huge asset in the fight against sexual harassment, sexism and has openly advocated for anti-sexist movements. So definitely these allegations are seriously threatening not only his reputation and political career but also his credibility on such a sensitive issue. According to the victim, who has remained anonymous claiming she wants nothing more to do with this story, Trudeau did apologise. He said:

“I’m sorry if I if I had known you were a reporter for a national paper I would never have been so forward.”

Now, this apology was pretty pathetic. It sounds more like he was apologising because she was a reporter rather than because he had done something wrong. Dumb. But according to the boss of the reporter Valerie Bourne the allegations didn’t seem too serious.

“My recollections of the conversation were that she came to me because she was unsettled by it. She didn’t like what had happened…She wasn’t sure how she should proceed with it because of course, we’re talking somebody who was known to the Canadian community. I would not classify it or qualify it as sexual assault.”

From what I understand, this story was recently uncovered and based on the headline it has seemed concerning. However, when we stop to really think about it Trudeau’s behaviour here may have simply been a misunderstanding.

See the source image
Trudeau attending the Canadian Pride Parade

We have all seen videos of Trudeau amongst the public. Footage of him in tears as he welcomes Syrian refugees into Canada, his joy and laid back demeanour when participating in Pride Marches, all seem to reflect an emotionally physical man.

So perhaps this incident really was just a case of him maybe physically touching someone, where exactly again I don’t know, and that person reacting uncomfortably. It does seem that Trudeau has moved on, and his ‘victim’ as well.

Which is why I can’t for the life of me understand why we should care now?

If the reporter who accused Trudeau of physical misconduct has made it abundantly clear that she has no intention of returning to this story, then who has the right to be angry?

How can you be more outraged than the victim?

Why waste time on something quite clearly minor, and trivial, when greater issues are at hand here?

So I would like to quite simply say that this is an overreaction. It has no real substance and really seems to be something that all parties involved should move on from. Perhaps, Trudeau could address these concerns more head-on and state clearly that both his ‘victim’ and himself have put it behind them. Although, understandably this may see him admitting to something he has for years protested against and I can’t help imagine that in light of his position as Prime Minister, he won’t be admitting this any time soon.

So I leave it with you, my dear readers.

Do you think that he deserves to be treated this way?

Do you think that “no I think he should be punished for this? He cannot get away with this because harassment is harassment?”

Or do you think that everyone should be punished relative to the level of misconduct they carry out?

Let me know as I’d love to hear your opinion.

 

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8 comments

  1. I’m not entirely a fan of the neoliberal Trudeau, but I wonder if this issue is about the political right in Canada noting how effective the high level attacks on Clinton were in the US and trying it out in Canada. Clinton of course behaved badly, but your details on the Trudeau incident make it seem unlikely the attack can go as far there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think there certainly seems to be a negative campaign from either side relying on attacks that a have no logical standing. I personally just think this specific case is a desperate attempt at discrediting Trudeau.

      Like

  2. This is a difficult issue. 1. It always makes me wonder why this comes out NOW. I question the agenda. While I do believe justice should be served, I think it’s absolutely ridiculous when people want to crucify someone for something he/she said a million years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First, having been harrassed when I was younger, when we’re talking about what did or didn’t happen, I don’t give a rip about anyone’s intent. You could fill Canada (or the US, or any other country) to a depth of three feet with incidents of women being harrassed by men who didn’t intend any harm. This isn’t an issue that can be judged by intent, only by effect. Yes, it’s better if the man in question doesn’t mean to do harm. It means he may change his behavior, but that’s a separate issue. Whatever happened happened. Intent doesn’t change its importance or the impact it had on the woman who was harrassed.

    Second, I expect you’re right about the agenda behind this.

    Third, I also agree about Trudeau’s response: It was pitiful. Whatever happened, I’d rather see him (and anyone in a similar situation) acknowledge what happened.

    Fourth, we–all of us–need to think about how we respond to this kind of revelation, and this is where the question of intent comes in. As awareness changes, we need to make space for people to change. That means not casting people of good will into the outer darkness because they used to run their lives by an outdated set of rules. Somehow or other (and I’m glad I don’t have to come up with a way to do this) we have to distinguish between the genuine predators and the clueless.

    And if this sounds angry, yup, being seen as prey for a long stretch of time can leave a person with an angry edge. I’m old enough now to have gone invisible, and it’s been incredibly freeing. I do try to leave tooth marks on my friends.

    Interesting post and an interesting question you raise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment Ellen. Obviously I have no real standing when it comes to being in a situation where I am considered prey. So I think it’s really important that you’ve come forward to give your own informed opinion. I think distinguishing between intent and effect is so important. Glad you took the time to write, I think your point is so important and really hope you hang around for future posts.

      All the best,

      Liked by 1 person

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