Trudeau faces heat after assault charge comes to light on choice for next governor general
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is refusing to say what he knew — and when he knew it — about a dismissed, non-felony charge against his choice for Governor General.
Julie Payette is calling the six-year-old incident a case of an “unfounded” allegation for which she was “immediately cleared” without any prosecution.
The second-degree assault charge doesn’t appear in Maryland court records, but is accessible through American-based background check websites that provide the charge, dates, case number, location and reason for its dismissal. No further details are provided about the reasons for the charge.
The incident, first reported by the political news website iPolitics, has raised questions about whether Trudeau knew about the potentially embarrassing information during the selection process that took place behind closed doors in the Prime Minister’s Office.
And if he did know, why he didn’t see it as an issue toward making Payette the next viceregal.
Trudeau twice said Wednesday he had no comment when asked about the deleted charge against Payette.
He said that before any appointment to such a high-profile political post, the government conducts a thorough background search on the candidate’s past. Trudeau wouldn’t say if he had been made aware of the incident prior to her appointment.
“I know that Mme. Payette is going to make an extraordinary governor general. She represents the very best of Canadian values, openness to the world, curiosity, intellectual rigour and inspiration,” Trudeau said at an event in Quebec City.
In a statement issued through Rideau Hall, Payette declined to comment on “these unfounded charges.”
Online records don’t detail what led to the charge. At the time, Payette was living with her then husband William “Billie” Flynn, a retired Air Force pilot who now is a Lockheed Martin test pilot for the F-35 fighter jet.
Payette and Flynn went through lengthy divorce proceedings that closed in late June when Payette withdrew a motion for child support, based on online Maryland court records.
The records also show that a motion to seal the proceedings and accompanying affidavits was filed in Maryland court Tuesday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Governor General-designate Julie Payette talks to reporters on Parliament Hill last week.