'It's just not right': Trudeau addresses brownface, blackface controversy in Winnipeg

Carla Harmon
September 20, 2019

"I shouldn't have done that".

"What I did hurt them - hurt people who shouldn't face intolerance and discrimination due to their skin colour", he said.

Canadaland has published a second photo of Trudeau at the gala, which is from the school's April 2001 newsletter.

When profusely apologizing for that on Wednesday night, he confessed to another: wearing makeup during a high-school talent show, while performing a version of Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song (Day-O)".

Still, Trudeau was relentlessly apologetic.

Jagmeet Singh
Jagmeet Singh

Trudeau, who has said he will not resign, said he did not realize at the time how offensive blackface was and asked Canadians for forgiveness. "It was a dumb thing to do". "In conducting myself do I regret anything in my life?" His remorse came after photos and a video from three of such instances began to surface Wednesday.

"What Canadians saw this evening is someone with a complete lack of judgement and integrity and someone who is not fit to govern this country".

Speaking to reporters Thursday in Winnipeg, Trudeau said he hadn't recalled some of those earlier images and that he didn't see at the time that it was wrong because of his advantaged upbringing.

"An apology based on a lie is not a real apology", Scheer told the public during an announcement in Quebec. Trudeau himself has called out Scheer for his refusal to march in gay Pride parades.

When asked if it's possible there are other instances, Trudeau said he was "wary of being definitive about this" because he didn't remember the latest images. But he did admit that "an individual" approached his campaign with a video that was sent to a news outlet for verification.


At a campaign stop in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., just east of Montreal Thursday morning, Scheer's attempt to proceed with the campaign as normal and announce a tax credit for seniors was knocked off the rails by the emerging Liberal crisis.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the damage caused by photos and video can not be underestimated, and underscores the importance of electing a New Democratic government.

The scandal could sink his chances of re-election in the October 21 national vote in which he already faced a tough challenge from the opposition Conservatives.

"Those are pretty seriously racist things to do and I think without an understanding or a willingness to tackle the institutions that maintain racism, he's just doing the same thing that everyone else is doing", she said.

"We are going to come together and take care of one another".


Foster has questioned Trudeau's diversity agenda ever since he appointed a gender-equal cabinet - "how cute, but there are no black people in your cabinet", he says.

The NDP leader specifically pointed to an incident at a Liberal fundraiser in March in which Trudeau responded to a protester raising concerns about mercury poisoning victims on a First Nation by thanking the person for their donation to his party.

People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier also took to social media to comment on the photo of Trudeau, calling him "the biggest hypocrite in the country".

As examples, he named the government's recent $45-million investment in a national anti-racism strategy, its decision to add a far-right group to its list of outlawed terrorist organizations, and Trudeau's 2018 announcement that Canada would officially recognize the International Decade for People of African Descent.

"When we found out TIME Magazine was looking for a picture of that event I told my staff", Trudeau told the crowd.


Liberals who have worked with Trudeau say his gregariousness masks a sometimes shy personality and that his off-colour jokes are a defence mechanism. But so much of the conversation happening online regarding Trudeau's past is depressingly universal.

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