Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized Wednesday for wearing brownface makeup to a party 18 years ago, as he scrambled to get on top of a fresh blow to a re-election campaign dogged by controversy.
Time magazine published the photograph one week into a federal election campaign with Trudeau’s Liberal Party in a tight contest against the Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer.
Trudeau, 47, whose party won a landslide victory in 2015, has already been under attack for an ethics lapse and other controversies.
The black-and-white photograph shows Trudeau, then 29, wearing a turban and robes with his face, neck and hands darkened at a gala party in 2001.
The picture appears in the 2000-2001 yearbook of West Point Grey Academy, a private school where Trudeau taught at the time, the US-based Time magazine said.
Trudeau confirmed it was him in the photo “at the school’s annual dinner which had a costume theme of ‘Arabian Nights.'”
“I have worked all my life to try to create opportunities for people, fight against racism and intolerance,” he told a televised news conference on his campaign aircraft.
“I can say I made a mistake when I was younger and I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had known better then, but I didn’t and I’m deeply sorry for it.”
“Now I recognize it was something racist to do,” he said.
“(For) communities and people who live with intersectionalities and face discrimination, it is a significant thing that is very hurtful.”
Trudeau, once the youthful golden boy of Canadian politics, also admitted to wearing dark makeup singing Harry Belafonte’s 1959 hit Day O (Banana Boat Song) at a separate high school talent contest.
– ‘Racism is real’ –
Jagmeet Singh, leader of the third place New Democratic Party, reacted by calling the behavior “troubling” and “insulting.”
“Anytime we hear examples of brown face or blackface, it’s making a mockery of someone for what they live and what their lived experiences are,” he said.
“What does that say about what he thinks about people who, because of who they are, because of the colour of their skin, face challenges and barriers and obstacles in their life. Racism is real.”
Politicians in Canada’s southern neighbor the United States, with its history of slavery and segregation, have been embroiled in scandal this year over their alleged wearing of “blackface.”
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam refused to resign after first admitting he appeared in a yearbook photograph showing a person in blackface and another wearing Ku Klux Klan robes, only to deny a day later that either individual was him.
Trudeau is a fervent advocate of the multiculturalism integral to Canadian identity, and at least six members of his cabinet have Asian or African heritage.
Accusations of political meddling in a bribery case against engineering giant SNC-Lavalin plunged support for Trudeau at the beginning of the year.
The scandal broke when two members of his own cabinet accused him and his aides of meddling in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin to save jobs.
Both the ministers were women and one was Canada’s first indigenous attorney general. They were expelled from the party.
The episode cost Trudeau support among women, indigenous people and young people — constituents that helped propel him to victory in 2015.
Trudeau is the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who is considered the father of modern Canada.
The younger Trudeau’s stint as a teacher belonged to a colorful past that also included working as a snowboard instructor, a bartender and a bouncer.
John Oliver rips Fox News’ Tucker Carlson for urging ‘order’ from people of color — but never demanding it of police
John Oliver opened his Sunday show, shredding Fox News host Tucker Carlson for uring "order" among protesters, but refusing to urge "order" to police and "wannabe police" who can't stop killing people.
It's a lot, Oliver explained. "How these protests are a response to a legacy of police misconduct, both in Minneapolis and the nation at large and how that misconduct is, itself, built on a legacy of white supremacy that prioritizes the comfort of white Americans over the safety of people of color."
While some of it is complicated, Oliver conceded, most of it is "all too clear."
Cars set on fire blocks from White House as DC protests turn violent
The Washington, D.C. protests turned violent as the city approached the 11 p.m. curfew the mayor instituted Sunday afternoon.
The policy of D.C. police is that when they are attacked, they advance forward. So, when fireworks were fired, the line of officers began pushing the protesters back further from the White House. Behind the line of police officers also stand a line of National Guard troops that President Donald Trump has demanded stand watch in the city.
Lights that normally shine on the White House have also been turned off, reporters revealed.
Cincinnati sheriff deputies replace American flag at the Justice Center with ‘thin-blue-line’ flag
Cincinnati police were filmed replacing the American flag that hangs over the Justice Center in Ohio's third-largest city. They then replaced it with the thin-blue-line flag, that was created to advocate for law-enforcement during Black Lives Matter Protests.
During the Charlottesville, Virginia riots, right-wing and white supremacist activists carried the thin-blue-line flag along with the Confederate flag to speak out against Black Lives Matter.
While the flag may have been created in support of law enforcement, it has been adopted by white supremacists and taken on a darker meaning.