Legacy media journalists soft-balled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday after he called for a “real reckoning” within Hockey Canada as the organization faces a series of sexual assault scandals.
The scandal stems from an allegation by a woman who said that she was sexually assaulted by a group of eight players in 2018.
Reporters online and present at the press conference in Nova Scotia refused to challenge the prime minister over past sexual harassment allegations made against him and those within his own government.
“We need to see Hockey Canada demonstrating a level of transparency, accountability (and) understanding of the situation they’re faced with,” said Trudeau.
“There needs to be a real reckoning with what we saw from that organization, and the wilful blindness to something that other organizations have been faced with — struggled with — but made good decisions around. As opposed to what Hockey Canada has been doing.”
Despite the fact that the press conference carried on for another ten minutes, no reporter challenged Trudeau on what he has done to address his own government’s lack of accountability when it comes to sexual harassment allegations.
On social media, the conservative advocacy group Canada Proud challenged Global News reporter Rachel Gilmore over the media ignoring the Liberal government’s own handling of scandals.
“Did you ask him how he squares this condemnation with his own handling of sexual harassment in his party and the Government of Canada? Or nah?,” tweeted Canada Proud.
Allegations that Trudeau groped an unwilling female reporter while at a music festival resurfaced in 2018. At the time, the prime minister deflected the accusation saying that the woman involved might have experienced the situation differently.
“Over the past weeks, since this news resurfaced, I’ve been reflecting, we’ve all been reflecting, on past behaviours,” said Trudeau.
“And as I’ve said, I’m confident I didn’t act inappropriately, but I think the essence of this is people can experience interactions differently and part of the lesson we need to learn in this moment of collective awakening … people in many cases, women, experience interactions in professional contexts and other contexts differently than men.
Recently the Liberals faced public outcry after it was revealed that the party allowed candidates accused of sexual harassment to run under the Liberal banner. In 2021, Trudeau refused to condemn former Liberal MP Raj Saini after he was accused of six years worth of sexual harassment by young female staffers and let him run in his riding anyways.
Similarly, the Liberals fielded Independent MP Kevin Vuong to run for the party despite being previously charged with sexual assault. Although Vuong was listed as a Liberal Party candidate on the ballot, he now sits as an Independent MP after being removed from the party’s caucus.
Several Liberal MPs and staff have faced sexual harassment accusations under Trudeau’s leadership, including former Liberal MP Kent Hehr, former PMO director of operations Claude-Éric Gagné, former Liberal MP Darshan Kang and former Liberal MPs Massimo Pacetti and Scott Andrews.