• Factivists

Justin Trudeau 'Wary of Being Definitive' About the Number of Times he Wore Brownface

A third instance of the Canadian Prime Minister partaking in brownface has arisen.

Less than five weeks before the Federal election, images and videos of the Liberal Party leader have been released, depicting him at a variety of events, including an 'Arabian Nights' gala, wearing black face paint.


The first photograph (pictured below) was taken in 2001 at the aforementioned occasion; Trudeau was a private school teacher at the time.

credit: CBC

The two other cases are said to have occurred in the late 1990s, and in a high school play.


Trudeau has since issued public apologies, acknowledging the offence caused by his actions, and expressing regret. On Thursday, he stated:


"Darkening your face, regardless of the context or the circumstances, is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface. I should have understood that then and I never should have done it."

The BBC also reports that the party's leader has been making phone calls to Liberal candidates to apologise for his past actions. However, he has not explicitly stated whether or not there could be more footage of offensive costume, yet to be found.


The scandal has been met with outrage from many, as Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, explained that she was “deeply shocked by the racism shown in this photograph of Justin Trudeau”, and that he must seek to improve social justice leadership at “all levels of government”.


However, Harjit Sajjan, Canadian Minister of Defence, along with several others, continues to defend the Prime Minister. Sajjan argues that the PM's recent actions highlight his advocacy for equality, as he accepted 25,000 Syrian refugees into the country, and appointed an Indo-Canadian politician to a high-ranking position, in an attempt to diversify his cabinet. The Liberal candidate insists that the Canadian people should accept Trudeau's apology, as he has done.


credit: The Canadian Star

In terms of how detrimental the incident will be to Trudeau's campaign, it is likely that he will lose some support from the liberal youth; for him, a key demographic. Despite this, Kevin Bosch, former Deputy Director of the Liberal Research Bureau, believes that the Liberal campaign will be 'knocked off track for a few days', but 'won't be fatal for Trudeau'. It is likely that the Prime Minister has built up 'enough goodwill' over the last few years for the Canadian people to focus on his time in power as a whole, rather than these past few days.


It is difficult not to feel repulsed by the images released by the media over the past few days, as it stirs up a sense of discomfort and disappointment in all of us. However, it is also difficult to completely forget Trudeau's activism in favour of a multicultural society, as he has always been pro-immigration. His apology certainly seems genuinely remorseful; there are not many politicians who would be willing to accept that their behaviour was once unmistakably racist.

Although, we must not give the man a 'get out of jail free' card, merely because we agree with his morals nowadays. It is important to encourage all white politicians to recognise their privilege, and to ensure that some serious lessons are learnt from these horrific mistakes. The case does not close now that an apology has been issued; the Prime Minister must continue to consider how minorities will be affected in any decision he makes.