A photo of 2001, showing Justin Trudeau disguised and face made up, was published by the "Time", a month of the legislative. The Prime Minister acknowledged that "it was racist".
One week to the day after the campaign for the October 21 legislative elections begins, Canada's outgoing prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a Liberal candidate for his own succession, finds himself at the center of controversy after the magazine American Time has published a photo on which he is grimaced in black.
The publication of the 2001 photo, depicting 29-year-old Justin Trudeau in a disguised evening dressed in a tunic, wearing a turban, his face, neck and hands blackened, had the effect of a bomb in a countryside hitherto smooth. At that time, Justin Trudeau was teaching at a private school in Vancouver, British Columbia. The theme of the evening was "The Thousand and One Nights" and Mr. Trudeau "To dress up in Aladdin's costume, including with makeup".
Exclusive: Justin Trudeau wore a brownface at 2001 'Arabian Nights' party while he taught at a private school, Canada … https://t.co/jgpWRzlRwL
The candidate immediately apologized after the publication of the photo, assuring that he did not know at the time that "What he did was racist." "I should not have done it, I should have known that I should not have done it, I deeply regret it. It was a mistake "he commented to the press for about fifteen minutes, looking contrite, before leaving Halifax for Winnipeg in his field plane.
"Yes, I apologize deeply"he added to the journalists following him since the beginning of the campaign. "I disappointed myself, and I am deeply sorry." He also admitted that he had made up his face in black another time in the past for a show in high school, during which he had sung Day-O, from Harry Belafonte.
"I should have known, even at that age"
The blackface or Brownface (literally the black or brown face) is a practice that consists, for a white person, to wear makeup in black. Appeared in Europe in the XVIIe century, its purpose was to portray blacks as evil or ridiculous. The blackface is now seen as an insulting and racist caricature.
This controversy once again belittles the image that the outgoing Prime Minister wants to give of himself, that of a man, in politics for ten years, which promotes tolerance, openness to others and the defense of minorities . "For sure, I am someone who has worked all my life to counter intolerance and discrimination. I should have known, even at that age, that I should not have done that. "
These excuses, however, were not enough for many of his opponents. "Make up your face in brown, it's not acceptable, reacted Trudeau's Conservative candidate and main rival, Andrew Sheer, to Sherbrooke, Quebec. It was racist in 2001, it's racist in 2019. " "I am deeply shocked by the racism shown in Justin Trudeau's photograph", Green Party candidate Elizabeth May wrote on Twitter.
"Who is the real Mr. Trudeau? "
New Democratic Party candidate (NDP, left), Jagmeeth Singh, campaigning in Toronto, questioned the true nature of the outgoing prime minister. "Who is the real Mr. Trudeau? he started. In public, he looks nice, but behind the closed doors is another Mr. Trudeau. "
Later in the evening, Mr. Singh, also the first Sikh wearing the turban to become a member of the Ontario Legislature, tweeted: "Tonight, we do not talk about the prime minister. We are talking about all the young people who are ridiculed because of the color of their skin. The child whose turban has been torn out and who has memories of painful episodes of racism. "
Only the Bloc Québécois (independence) candidate, Yves-François Blanchet, insisted that Justin Trudeau was not racist. "Justin Trudeau has all the flaws in the world, he's certainly not a good Prime Minister, he may not even qualify for the term "competent", but Justin Trudeau is not a racist », he argued.
At the end of the forty-day campaign, Justin Trudeau will put his political life on the line again. In 2015, his dazzling victory put an end to a reign of almost a decade by Stephen Harper's Conservative government. Four years later, the latest polls give him neck and neck with the Conservative candidate.