- Politicians in Canada condemned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday after the publication of a photograph showing him wearing brownface makeup in 2001.
- The photograph was published Wednesday by Time magazine. It shows Trudeau attending an “Arabian Nights” party in which he dressed as Aladdin. His hands and face were darkened and he wore a turban.
- The leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh – a Sikh who wears a turban – said the act was “insulting” and Trudeau “has to answer for it.”
- The Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, said “brownface was racist in 2001 and is still racist in 2019.”
- Canada is in the midst of an election in which Trudeau is fighting for a second term in office.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Politicians in Canada have roundly condemned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over a photograph showing him wearing brownface makeup at a party in 2001.
The photo was published Wednesday by Time magazine and depicts a 29-year-old Trudeau in an Aladdin costume. He was a schoolteacher at the time.
In the image, Trudeau’s face and hands were covered in dark makeup, and he wore a turban:
Exclusive: Justin Trudeau wore brownface at an “Arabian Nights” party in 2001. I got the photo.https://t.co/TiIQIrKY3z
— Anna Kambhampaty (@anna_P_k) September 18, 2019
Politicians from rival parties condemned Trudeau, who apologised and acknowledged that wearing the costume was a racist act.
The leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh – a Sikh who wears a turban – said Trudeau’s costume was “insulting” and “troubling.”
“Any time we hear examples of brownface or blackface it’s making a mockery of someone for what their lived experiences are,” he said.
— CBC News: The National (@CBCTheNational) September 18, 2019
Singh later tweeted that the image would bring up “intense feelings of pain & hurt” in people marginalised for their appearance and that they should be the focus of the news cycle rather than Trudeau.
Tonight is not about the Prime Minister.
It's about every young person mocked for the colour of their skin.
The child who had their turban ripped off their head.
And those reliving intense feelings of pain & hurt from past experiences of racism.
To you, I say you are loved.
— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) September 19, 2019
Elizabeth May, the leader of Canada’s Green Party, said she was “deeply shocked at the racism shown in the photograph of Justin Trudeau.” She said he had “failed” to set an example of social justice.
I am deeply shocked by the racism shown in the photograph of Justin Trudeau. He 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.
— Elizabeth May (@ElizabethMay) September 19, 2019
The leader of the opposition Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer, said “brownface was racist in 2001 and is racist in 2019.”
“What Canadians saw this evening was someone with a complete lack of judgment and integrity and someone who is not fit to govern this country.”
Maxime Bernier, the founder and leader of the right-leaning People’s Party of Canada, made a point of not calling Trudeau a racist but instead accused him of hypocrisy.
He said in a tweet the prime minister was “the biggest hypocrite in the country.”
I’m not going to accuse @JustinTrudeau of being a racist.
But he’s the master of identity politics and the Libs just spent months accusing everyone of being white supremacists.
He definitely is the biggest hypocrite in the country.
— Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier) September 19, 2019
Trudeau, who is in the midst of campaigning for an election, has apologised for his actions publicly.
When asked whether the incident was a one-off, he told reporters it was not.
Trudeau described dressing up in blackface at a high-school talent show to sing “Day-O,” a Jamaican folk song performed by the African American singer and activist Harry Belafonte.
Here is a video of the full apology:
Trudeau appears to be the only guest at the event with blackface.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.