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Trudeau vows to continue campaign despite brownface scandal

14 Comments
By Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to continue his re-election campaign and asked for forgiveness on Thursday after pictures of him in brownface emerged less than five weeks before the national vote.

The Liberal Party leader's campaign has been upended since Time magazine on Wednesday published an image of the prime minister, who is known to be strong advocate for multiculturalism, with his face darkened at a 2001 "Arabian Nights" party when he was a 29-year-old teacher at a Vancouver private school.

Other images have since emerged, and Trudeau said he was "wary" of ruling out the existence of even more because he could not remember those that had already come to light.

Answering questions from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Trudeau said that his privilege as the white son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had come with a "blind spot."

"I come from a place of privilege and I have endeavored in my life to put the advantages and opportunities I've been given to serve this country, to fight for people's rights," he said. "I've let a lot of people down ... and I stand here today to reflect on that and to ask forgiveness."

Earlier, Trudeau held a conference call for all his 338 candidates in the election for Canada's parliament.

"He said this is the moment for us to continue to work together to understand the pain of people who are on the receiving end of racism and stereotypes," one Liberal on the call said.

Even before the scandal, the race going into the Oct 21 vote was tight. But the release of the bombshell images could be a turning point, in part because Liberals have traditionally attracted support from immigrant communities.

"It is clearly very damaging at this time, and the full impacts will not become clear for a week or so," said Frank Graves, head of the EKOS Research polling company. "I don't think it will be fatal, but time will tell."

Trudeau has championed racial equality and diversity as prime minister, and has three prominent ministers of Indian descent in his cabinet.

"I'm not that person anymore," he said. "I'm someone who understands the deep hurt cause by actions like that to people who live with discrimination every single day."

Greg Fergus, a black Liberal legislator from Quebec, said Trudeau had called him before the story broke on Wednesday to apologize.

"I don't believe that anybody has ever lived their lives without making errors," Fergus told reporters in Ottawa, saying Canadians should focus on "all the amazing things we have done for diversity."

On Wednesday, Trudeau also admitted to performing "Day-O", a traditional Jamaican song made famous by Harry Belafonte in the 1950s, in blackface during a high school talent show years earlier. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp then published a picture from the performance that a Liberal spokeswoman confirmed as authentic.

Global News put out a video showing Trudeau again in dark makeup making faces and sticking his tongue out. It was not immediately clear exactly when that video was from.

"We can confirm that it is him and it's from the early 1990s," a Liberal official said.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, Trudeau's main rival, said the video was proof that the prime minister had lied during his apology on Wednesday because he only mentioned having appeared in blackface twice.

"He did something that was racist and he lied about the extent of such activities," Scheer told reporters in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec. But Scheer also acknowledged that the Conservatives had leaked the video to Global News.

Trudeau has seen his once sky-high popularity hurt by a series of missteps, including a ruling last month by a top watchdog that he had breached ethics rules by pressuring the former justice minister to ensure a major construction firm avoid a corruption trial.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019. Click For Restrictions - https://agency.reuters.com/en/copyright.html

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments
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Let's judge Trudeau on what he's doing and has done, not on something he did about 20 years ago.

Whoever he might have been 20 years ago, he's clearly not that person now. Besides, look at what he's done for equal rights for women and minorities in Canada. The politically correct crowd needs to stop and reevaluate their attack strategies.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Is there a difference between blackface and brownface? The article uses them interchangeably. And after seeing the photos, in which Trudeau appears to be quite dark, I'd say he was in blackface, and that's sounds worse than brownface, and so his office is going with brownface to soften the fallout.

THoughts?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@black Sabbath He did both, he used brownface when he was an Indian and blackface when he was a black person. He said he cannot remember how many times he did it.

Three woman quit his cabinet. Two of them (one an indigenous person) over Trudeau's interference with the justice process against a company full of entitled elites from Trudeau's home area.

The third woman to quit is black and quit because of how disrespectful Trudeau had treated her.

Canada has never been as divided a country as it is now, if Trudeau is re-elected there is a real possibility of western provinces leaving Canada to form their own country.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Let's judge Trudeau on what he's doing and has done, not on something he did about 20 years ago.

Whoever he might have been 20 years ago, he's clearly not that person now. Besides, look at what he's done for equal rights for women and minorities in Canada. The politically correct crowd needs to stop and reevaluate their attack strategies.

I don’t like Trudeau, but he should push on and forget about all this, he owned up to it and it all should be over and out

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If you haven't see the video, you should. Trudeau in blackface acting like a gorilla with something shoved down the front of his pants. And he says, he didn't think it was racist.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This idea that blackface is racist is well founded in the US. Not so much in Canada. Especially if you are talking about 20-30 years ago, I don’t think you would have found that many people who knew much about its history. In that respect, people might be forgiven for merely applying makeup as part of their costume, and were willing to own up and apologize now.

On the other hand, acting out racial stereotypes on top of the costume and makeup cancels out any possibility of pleading ignorance.

I guess my conclusion is that I really don’t know how to judge these cases where the past is dug up for political purposes. Pretty much everyone has a dark past they want forgotten, but most of these things only come out at election time.

The irony, of course, is that sane people who also happen to be completely innocent of such behavior are few and far between, and are the least likely to want to get involved in politics.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I honestly don't think Justin is racist. He isn't smart enough to generate the necessary mental horsepower to be a bigot. What he IS, is a dilettante. A glorified frat boy who was content to drift through life, riding the power of his family name and father's money. At best, he should be an occasional closing headline on a TV gossip/entertainment program.

I don't think he should quit the campaign. Let the Canadian people decide what to do about him. He is lucky in that his opposition is rather feckless and weak, and that the Liberal Party is so entrenched in power. We'll see in a few weeks.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"If your skin tone does not match the tone of the person or character is meant to be, it's just a poor costume."

Agreed. Also, what Trudeau did is more about poor taste than a reflection of his own racist beliefs the costume wearer, in this case Trudeau, holds towards blacks.

Do you honestly believe Pres. Trudeau is a racist? If you think so, then attack him all you like.

On the other hand, do you believe that Pres. Trudeau made a mistake almost 2 decades ago when he was a young man? Then give the guy a break, forgive him and accept his sincere apology that he made big mistake.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Do you honestly believe Pres. Trudeau is a racist?

Who are you talking about, the president, or Trudeau? Canada does not have a president.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Strangerland

My mistake. Trudeau.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Trudeau has championed racial equality and diversity as prime minister, and has three prominent ministers of Indian descent in his cabinet.

But let's ignore all that, and base our opinions of Trudeau's commitment to the rights of minorities on some dumb things he did a couple of decades ago. If Trudeau is defeated at the next election it should be on the basis of his missteps in government such as "pressuring the former justice minister to ensure a major construction firm avoid a corruption trial", not some social media-confected outrage.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

PM Trudeau is known for making grand gestures and signalling his social virtue. His first cabinet after he was elected, he promised to make the members 50% male and 50% female. A ludicrous idea based on nothing more than identity politics, and not on competence or skill. He is shallow.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If Trudeau loses, it will be because he has done some sketchy things as PM.

But not because of his policies - the Canadians still support those polices. They're not Americans after all.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I honestly don't think Justin is racist.

I don't think he's a racist hater as such but I do think he has/might have had some sort of 'white superiority complex' and/or weird ethnic fetish.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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