Justin Trudeau, now the prime minister of Canada, appears in dark makeup on his face, neck and hands at a 2001 ‘Arabian Nights’-themed party at the West Point Grey Academy, the private school where he taught. Photo by TIME

VIDEO: Party leaders react to Trudeau’s brownface photo bombshell

Fallout from Justin Trudeau’s brownface photo, and two other instances, sure to dominate campaign

It won’t be campaigning as usual for Justin Trudeau Thursday as the Liberal leader grapples with the fallout from a bombshell that landed on the campaign trail.

An 18-year-old photo surfaced Wednesday of him dressed elaborately as Aladdin, with his face and hands blackened by makeup.

Trudeau apologized profusely for having indulged in what he acknowledged to be a racist act during an “Arabian Nights”-themed party at the Vancouver private school where he once taught.

He conceded it will take some doing to restore his image as a champion of diversity and tolerance.

“I’m asking Canadians to forgive me for what I did,” he said during an emergency news conference aboard the Liberal campaign plane before taking off from Nova Scotia for Winnipeg, where he is scheduled to have events today.

“I shouldn’t have done that. It was a dumb thing to do. I’m disappointed in myself. I’m pissed off at myself for having done it. I apologize for it.”

He added that he didn’t consider it a racist action at the time, “but now we know better.”

“This is something unacceptable and it is racist.”

ALSO READ: ‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

Trudeau also confessed to having worn makeup during a high school talent show, while performing a version of Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song (Day-O).”

He said he’ll spend this morning talking to his three kids about “taking responsibility for mistakes we make, about living every day to try to be a better person.” And he said he’ll be spending time talking to visible minority Liberal MPs and candidates, some of whom he spoke with Wednesday evening.

Trudeau’s foes will no doubt also be grappling with the fallout while they go about their more routine campaigning. They all responded Wednesday night, but now have to weigh whether to pile on Trudeau or adhere to the political maxim of never interfering when an opponent is the process of destroying themselves.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, the first federal party leader from a visible minority, is scheduled to be in Hamilton today. On Wednesday night, he responded more personally than politically, choking up as he talked about how people who have faced discrimination because of their skin colour will be hurt by the revelation about Trudeau’s past activities.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer spoke only briefly after landing in Quebec, where he has events today in Saint-Hyacinthe, Granby and Sherbrooke, but signalled that he intends to give no quarter.

“Wearing brown face is an act of open mockery and racism,” Scheer said. ”It was just as racist in 2001 as it is in 2019. And what Canadians saw this evening is someone with a complete lack of judgment and integrity and someone who is not fit to govern this country.”

Throughout the first week of the campaign, the Liberal war room has made hay with past comments and social media posts from Scheer and Conservative candidates, exposing what Liberals deem examples of intolerance toward minorities. Trudeau himself has called out Scheer for his refusal to march in gay Pride parades.

On Twitter late Wednesday, People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier said he won’t accuse Trudeau of being a racist.

“He’s the master of identity politics and the Libs just spent months accusing everyone of being white supremacists,” he tweeted. ”He definitely is the biggest hypocrite in the country.”

Green Leader Elizabeth May, who is to speak to the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations today in Vancouver, said Trudeau ”must apologize for the harm done and commit to learning and appreciating the requirement to model social justice leadership at all levels of government. In this matter he has failed.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LUCK involved in new Vernon online campaign

Two Vernon women create giveLUCK to hear about the “beauty of humanity” in these troubled times

Don’t take hair into your own hands, urge Okanagan stylists

New Vernon shop expects high demand come May, since opening delayed

Virtual physio connects patients with Vernon practitioners

Many local physiotherapists are ready to assist, online

Burning permits doused in pair of North Okanagan electoral areas

Regional District of North Okanagan Areas B and C cancel permits to combat COVID-19 virus

Vernon, Kelowna denturists hit hard amid COVID-19

Okanagan denture clinics wonders if they’ll ever be able sustain the sting of pandemic

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

‘Dramatic change’: YLW traffic drops to less than 1,000 passengers a day

The airport’s director said 6,000 passengers went through before pandemic

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

COLUMN: Plenty of online reading options

Libraries are closed due to COVID-19 but downloads are available through Okanagan Regional Library

Most Read