In the midst of a difficult re-election campaign plagued by personal and political scandals, new evidence has been unearthed that shows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wearing blackface or brownface on at least three occasions. A photograph of Trudeau wearing a turban and robes in addition to dark makeup at an “Arabian Nights” themed party in 2001 was found by TIME magazine. After the revelation, Trudeau apologized, saying that he did not think such an action was racist at the time but realizes now the racism of his behavior, and added that he wore blackface on another occasion, when he was a student in high school and performed the song “Day-O” during a talent show. Within a day, evidence of a third instance of Trudeau wearing a racist costume emerged in the form of a video depicting the now-Prime Minister wearing a white T-shirt, ripped jeans, dark makeup and a fake afro. Though the exact circumstances around the video are unknown, as it’s not clear where and when it was shot, the depiction of Trudeau in this costume further damages Trudeau’s political chances as it shows that Trudeau was not being entirely truthful recounting all of the times he wore blackface or brownface while apologizing for the first incident.
These new revelations are particularly troublesome for Trudeau because he has spent his political career depicting himself as an avowed progressive, liberal, and feminist dedicated to furthering social justice causes like eliminating the gender pay gap and expanding immigration to accept a greater number of migrants and refugees. Though Canadians are not likely to consider Trudeau a racist, the emergence of old photographic and video evidence of the Prime Minister behaving unprofessionally, to say the least, generates the sense that he is insincere, inauthentic, and not a serious person.
This recent scandal is not the only one Trudeau has to worry about. In 2018, Trudeau drew criticism for wearing flashy traditional Indian garb during a visit to India, which many Canadians of Indian descent considered offensive and an example of cultural appropriation. And Trudeau is currently in the midst of a political scandal over accusations from the country’s then-Attorney General, who claimed Trudeau improperly interfere in a corruption investigation involving Quebec-based construction company SNC-Lavalin. The Attorney General, who has since resigned, said Trudeau directed her to stop an investigation into the company’s business affairs for fear that the results of the investigation would hurt Canadian workers. While seemingly tame in comparison to the daily scandals that impact American political life, this scandal is one of the most serious political scandals in Canadian political history.
Despite the extent of the various controversies surrounding Trudeau’s candidacy, Canadians are a notoriously forgiving people, and considering the Prime Minister’s impressive political accomplishments it’s not impossible to imagine he will win his reelection campaign regardless. But when voters go to the polls on October 21st, this incident, among other scandals surrounding Trudeau, is sure to be on their minds.