Trudeau’s ‘brownface’ photos rock his re-election bid
Toronto: Revelations that Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has dressed up in brownface and blackface on multiple occasions have rocked his re-election campaign. The leader has long cast himself as a glittering spokesman for the world’s beleaguered liberals, but that carefully calibrated image suffered a major blow this week when photos and a video emerged of the prime minister dressing up as racist caricatures in the early 1990s and in 2001.
One showed him at an “Arabian Nights” party, dressed up as Aladdin in brownface makeup and a turban, his arms wrapped around a woman. The picture was taken while Trudeau was 29 and teaching at a school in Vancouver, British Columbia. While apologising for that image at an appearance on Wednesday, Trudeau also admitted to dressing up in blackface while performing “Day-O,” the Jamaican folk song, in high school. “I should have known better then, but I did’t, and I am deeply sorry for it,” Trudeau said. “I’m going to ask Canadians to forgive me for what I did. I shouldn’t have done that. I take responsibility for it. It was a dumb thing to do.”
Then, on Thursday, more damaging material surfaced. Trudeau’s campaign spokeswoman confirmed that a video posted by GlobalNews, a Canada-based news organisation, showed the prime minister in the early1990s dressed in blackface and an Afro wig. In the video, he is waving his hands around and sticking out his tongue. And the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation posted another photo from the 2001 “Arabian Nights” party. In it,Trudeau, again in brownface and wearing a turban, has his arms around two Sikh men.
The new disclosures come only a few months after accusations surfaced that Trudeau had bullied his former justice minister and attorney general, an indigenous woman, while pressing her to settle corruption charges against a major Quebec engineering company. When she didn’t comply, she accused him of demoting her.
The photo’s publication could spell more trouble for Trudeau, who is facing a serious challenge from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. His apology did not stem the criticism. “I am deeply troubled by what this means to Canada. Young kids are not just going to see just one or two but multiple images of the PM mocking their lived reality,” said Leftist New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh.