OTTAWA, Canada – New images of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wearing blackface makeup emerged on Canadian television Thursday, September 19, throwing his floundering reelection bid into further disarray.
Released by broadcaster Global News, and confirmed to Agence France-Presse by his campaign as being Trudeau "in the early 1990s," the footage depicts the Liberal leader in ripped jeans and a T-shirt, his arms up and dark makeup on his face.
Late Wednesday, September 18, Trudeau apologized after Time magazine published a photograph of him wearing dark makeup at a party 18 years ago.
He also admitted to wearing similar makeup in his teens when he sang Harry Belafonte's 1956 hit "Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" at a high school talent contest.
"I have worked all my life to try to create opportunities for people, fight against racism and intolerance," he told a televised news conference on his campaign aircraft.
"I can say I made a mistake when I was younger and I wish I hadn't. I wish I had known better then, but I didn't and I'm deeply sorry for it."
"Now I recognize it was something racist to do," he said, acknowledging that his enthusiasm for costumes – which has also included dressing as Clark Kent/Superman and a "Star Wars" rebel pilot for Halloween – has not always been "appropriate."
Trudeau, 47, whose party won a landslide victory in 2015, has already been under attack for an ethics lapse and other controversies.
The controversial images are fresh blows, coming out one week into a federal election campaign with Trudeau's party in a tight contest against the Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer.
Trudeau was scheduled to campaign in Winnipeg and Saskatoon on Thursday.
The election is set for October 21.
US politicians have been mired in scandal in recent years when found to have worn blackface, which dates back to about 1830, and so-called "minstrel shows."
White performers caked their faces in greasepaint or shoe polish and drew on exaggerated lips in a caricature of blacks.
The stereotypes portrayed – that blacks were somehow inferior, ignorant, lazy and even animalistic – cemented racist attitudes for decades. Some of those images still exist today.
Trudeau is a fervent advocate of the multiculturalism integral to Canadian identity, and at least 6 members of his cabinet have Asian or African heritage.
But the scandal is sure to tarnish his golden boy image, already suffering over accusation of lapsed ethics.
Trudeau is the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who is considered the father of modern Canada. – Rappler.com