Minor ‘fender bender’ at root of 1999 B.C. court file naming Justin Trudeau

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MONTREAL — Justin Trudeau was involved in a minor vehicle collision that ended up in British Columbia civil court through the insurance process, according to records still listed in the provincial justice database.

Liberal campaign spokeswoman Zita Astravas says it was a “fender bender” that happened in 1999 and that it was dealt with through B.C.’s public auto-insurance regime.

Screenshots of the records began circulating on social media earlier this week, with people speculating about why Trudeau was named as the defendant in a civil case before the B.C. Supreme Court.

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The Canadian Press verified the existence of the record in the database, but the actual documents are no longer available because the courts only retain them for a dozen years. The Canadian Press was unable to locate the person named on the file as the plaintiff.

B.C. has a public auto insurance program, and someone who is not satisfied with the result of their claim can dispute it through the courts, which in a small number of cases includes a trial.

That process can happen without the plaintiff or defendant being directly involved.

Lindsay Olsen, a spokeswoman with the B.C. public auto insurance system, says that if one driver makes a claim against another’s policy after a collision, the insurer takes up the case.

“We represent our customer in court,” she said.

The information in the provincial justice database says the file was opened June 15, 1999, which was nearly a decade before Trudeau was first elected as a Liberal MP in Montreal.

The latest activity seems to have been a hearing scheduled in May 2004. The records suggest no trial ensued.

The website for ICBC, the provincial insurer, notes court cases could take several years to resolve.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18.

The Canadian Press

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