TORONTO (AP) – Canadian chief Justin Trudeau’s marketing campaign moved to comprise a rising scandal Thursday, following the publication of a yearbook picture displaying him in brownface make-up at a 2001 costume celebration. The prime minister apologized and begged Canadians to forgive him.
Time journal printed the picture on Wednesday, saying it was taken from the yearbook from the West Level Gray Academy, a personal college in British Columbia the place Trudeau labored as a trainer earlier than getting into politics. It depicts the then 29-year-old Trudeau carrying a turban and gown, with darkish make-up on his palms, face and neck.
“I’m pissed off at myself, I’m upset in myself,” Trudeau informed reporters touring with him on his marketing campaign aircraft.
The Canadian prime minister is however the newest politician to face scrutiny over racially insensitive images and actions from their youthful days. Earlier this yr, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam confronted intense stress to resign after a racist image surfaced from his 1984 medical college yearbook web page. He denied being within the image however admitted carrying blackface as a younger man whereas portraying Michael Jackson at a dance celebration within the 1980s. Since then, Virginia Lawyer Common Mark Herring has acknowledged carrying blackface in faculty, and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has publicly apologized for donning blackface throughout a university skit greater than 50 years in the past. None has resigned.
The picture of Trudeau was taken on the college’s annual dinner, which had an “Arabian Nights” theme that yr, Trudeau mentioned, including that he was dressed as a personality from “Aladdin.” The prime minister mentioned it was not the primary time he has painted his face; as soon as, he mentioned, he carried out a model of Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Music (Day-O)” throughout a expertise present.
“I ought to have identified higher then however I didn’t, and I’m deeply sorry for it,” Trudeau mentioned. “I’m going to ask Canadians to forgive me for what I did. I shouldn’t have carried out that. I take accountability for it. It was a dumb factor to do.”
He mentioned he has at all times been extra obsessed with costumes than is “generally acceptable.”
“These are the conditions I remorse deeply,” Trudeau added.
The prime minister, who champions variety and multiculturalism, mentioned he didn’t contemplate it racist on the time however mentioned society is aware of higher now.
The picture’s publication may spell extra bother for Trudeau, who polls say is going through a severe problem from Conservative chief Andrew Scheer.
Trudeau has been admired by liberals around the globe for his progressive insurance policies within the Trump period, with Canada accepting extra refugees than america. His Liberal authorities has additionally strongly advocated free commerce and legalized hashish nationwide.
However the 47-year-old son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was already susceptible following one of many largest scandals in Canadian political historical past, which arose when Trudeau’s former lawyer common mentioned he improperly pressured her to halt the felony prosecution of an organization in Quebec. Trudeau has mentioned he was standing up for jobs, however the scandal rocked the federal government and led to a number of resignations earlier this yr, inflicting a drop within the chief’s ballot rankings.
Following the discharge of the brownface picture, Trudeau mentioned he would speak to his youngsters within the morning about taking accountability.
His fast apology didn’t stem the criticism from political opponents, who took the prime minister to activity for what they mentioned was troubling habits.
“It’s insulting. Any time we hear examples of brownface or blackface it’s making a mockery of somebody for what they dwell, for what their lived experiences are. I feel he has to reply for it,” mentioned Leftist New Democrat chief Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh who wears a turban and the primary seen minority to guide a nationwide celebration.
Scheer, the opposition Conservative chief, mentioned brownface was racist in 2001 and is racist in 2019.
“What Canadians noticed this night was somebody with an entire lack of judgment and integrity and somebody who is just not match to manipulate this nation,” Scheer mentioned.
Robert Bothwell, a professor of Canadian historical past and worldwide relations on the College of Toronto, mentioned he was “gobsmacked” on the growth and questioned how it might land in Parliament and with voters.
“We’ll simply need to see how the celebration reacts,” he mentioned. “I’m very curious to understand how Liberal members of Parliament which can be black will react.”
He added: “The case has by no means been conclusively made that Justin is an individual of substance. I imply he might be. However that impression is simply not on the market.”
How the scandal will have an effect on Trudeau’s marketing campaign stays in query. Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor on the College of Toronto, mentioned he didn’t assume the picture’s launch would trigger individuals to vote in another way. Wiseman mentioned race and blackface play a a lot greater position in U.S. politics than in Canada.
“I don’t assume this can swing the vote, though the story will get lots of media play for a few days,” Wiseman mentioned. “The Liberals could very effectively lose the election – they nearly actually is not going to do in addition to in 2015 – however this isn’t the kind of scandal that may drive voters to the Conservatives.”
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