Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized again for wearing blackface on Thursday after two additional photos of him donning dark make-up emerged following an original, damning image of him at an Arabian Nights party.
Trudeau first apologized on Wednesday night after a 2001 photograph of him emerged in brown face at an Arabian Nights party when he was a teacher. He also referred to a high school incident where he dressed up as Harry Belafonte to sing the Jamaican song Day-O.
A photograph of the Day-O performance came out on Thursday morning but since then, a video of a third incident where he was wearing blackface emerged. It is unclear when it was taken.
Trudeau said on Thursday that he did not remember the third incident but he understood it was ‘unacceptable’ and that he has enjoyed ‘layers of privilege’ in his life.
At one stage, he said he took ‘full responsibility’ for the scandal – a statement which won applause from the audience of fans who had followed him to the press conference in Winnipeg.
‘I’m not that person anymore’: Trudeau addressed the scandal on Thursday in Winnipeg
He asked for forgiveness but would not confirm that those three incidents were the only times in his life he had worn blackface, staying silent when a reporter yelled out to ask if any additional photos would emerge.
‘I come from a place of privilege. I have to recognize that I let a lot of people down and I stand here today to reflect on that and ask for forgiveness
‘What I did hurt them, hurt people who shouldn’t have to face intolerance and bigotry because of their identity.
‘This is something that I deeply, deeply regret,’ Trudeau said.
‘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,’ he said.
Asked why he did not mention the third incident sooner, he said: ‘I shared the moments that I recollected but I recognize that is something absolutely unacceptable to do. It was blackface and that is just not right.’
‘This has been personally… a moment where I’ve had to reflect on the fact that wanting to do good and better isn’t good enough and you have to take responsibility for hurting many people who thought I was an ally and hopefully still think I am an ally.’
Trudeau went on: ‘When we reflect on mistakes we made in the past, we’re always going to be asking why did we do that?
‘It wasn’t a good idea, it was a terrible idea. It was something that minimizes and takes advantage of a reality that I have not had to live with – of being discriminated against, being marginalized for the color of my skin.
‘I come from a place of privilege. I have to recognize that I let a lot of people down and I stand here today to reflect on that and ask for forgiveness.’
Trudeau traveled to Winnipeg to campaign on Thursday in an effort to put the scandal behind him
The Canadian PM was in high spirits, smiling and waving his way through the day
Trudeau greets a member of the community in Winnipeg in a cafe after the three photographs emerged
Trudeau took photos with fans during a walk-about in Winnipeg on Thursday
The once squeaky-clean politician launched his re-election campaign last week
In the first new photograph, Trudeau is dressed up as Jamaican singer Harry Belafonte to sing Day-O, a Jamaican song, at Jean Brebeuf High School at a talent show. He graduated from the school in the early 1990s.
The second is taken from a video which is undated but was given to Global News on Wednesday. The outlet confirmed with a senior member of the Liberal campaign that it was Trudeau.
It shows him with a black face and raising his arms and sticking his tongue out while dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans.
On Wednesday, he apologized over a different photo which was taken in 2001 when he was a 29-year-old teacher. That image showed him dressed in a turban and white robe with brown make-up on his face to attend an Arabian Nights party.
In a press conference held on his campaign plane, he acknowledged that the photo was racist and said he should have known better.
‘I’m p***ed off at myself, I’m disappointed in myself,’ he said.
Justin Trudeau is shown wearing an afro wig and dressed in black face to impersonate Jamaican singer Harry Belafonte to sing ‘Day-O’ at a talent show at his high school. He graduated in the early 90s
A third image emerged on Thursday which shows Trudeau in an undated video wearing blackface. The video is undated but was obtained by Global News and verified by a member of the Liberal campaign
A yearbook photo emerged on Wednesday showing Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wearing brownface to a party 18 years ago when he was a private school teacher in Vancouver
A second photo from the night in question. Trudeau admitted on Wednesday that while he did not think it was racist at the time, he knows now that it was. He had painted his arms and hands as well as his face
He also mentioned the high school photo before it emerged, saying: ‘When I was in high school I dressed up at a talent show and sang ‘Day-O’ with makeup on.’
The scandal comes just one week after the squeaky-clean politician launched his campaign and could undermine his chances for re-election with less than five weeks to go before Canada’s election.
Trudeau said the brownface photo was taken at an end of year gala where the theme was Arabian Nights and he dressed up in an Aladdin costume.
‘I should have known better then but I didn’t, and I am deeply sorry for it,’ he said.
‘I shouldn’t have done that. I take responsibility for it. It was a dumb thing to do.’
He also admitted to wearing black makeup in high school to perform a version of African-American singer Harry Belafonte’s song ‘Banana Boat Song (Day-O)’ during a talent show.
‘These are the situations I regret deeply,’ he said.
Trudeau said it was a racist act but he didn’t realize it at the time and that he knows better now.
He acknowledged that he had ‘always been more enthusiastic about costumes than is sometimes appropriate’.
Trudeau admitted to wearing the racist costume when he attended an ‘Arabian Nights’ themed gala at West Point Grey Academy – the private school in Vancouver where he was teaching at the time. He is pictured at a press conference on board his campaign plane
Trudeau was impersonating singer Harry Belafonte in the high school performance. Belafonte, dubbed the King of Calypso, is shown, left, in 1954, two years before he released Day-O, and right, in 2006. He is 92 now
He asked Canadians to forgive him and said he would continue to fight intolerance and discrimination.
Trudeau repeatedly said he would take responsibility for his past mistakes but refused to say why he hadn’t spoken about the existence of the racist photo sooner.
The Liberal Party of Canada had earlier confirmed that Trudeau, who is the leader of their political party, was in the photo.
‘I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better, but I didn’t, and I’m really sorry. It was a dumb thing to do
‘It was a photo taken while he was teaching in Vancouver, at the school’s annual dinner which had a costume theme of ‘Arabian Nights’,’ the party’s media relations lead said.
‘He attended with friends and colleagues dressed as a character from Aladdin.’
He worked at the private school before entering politics and at the same time his father Pierre Trudeau was Canada’s Prime Minister.
Trudeau taught French, among other classes, when he was a teacher at the private school where tuition is about $23,000 a year.
He left his teaching position there after spring in 2001.
The Liberal Party of Canada confirmed on Wednesday that Trudeau, who is the leader of their political party, was in the photo. He is pictured above on Wednesday during an election campaign event in Moncton, New Brunswick
Trudeau acknowledged that he had ‘always been more enthusiastic about costumes than is sometimes appropriate’. He is pictured with his wife Sophie during a trip to India last year
The photo emerged publicly for the first time on Wednesday after a tip from a Vancouver businessman Michael Adamson who was said to be part of the West Point Grey Academy community.
Adamson didn’t attend the party but came across the photo in the yearbook in July and believed it should be made public.
The photo emerged a month before Canada’s general election scheduled for October 21.
Trudeau, who has been in power since 2015, is facing a tough re-election battle against the main opposition Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer.
He has been admired by liberals around the world for his progressive policies in the Trump era, with Canada accepting more refugees than the United States.
His Liberal government has also strongly advocated free trade.
Trudeau has come under fire of late following one of the biggest scandals in Canadian political history, which arose when Trudeau’s former attorney general said he improperly pressured her to halt the criminal prosecution of a company in Quebec.
Trudeau has said he was standing up for jobs.
He is but the latest politician to face scrutiny over racially insensitive photos and actions from their younger days.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was embroiled in a blackface controversy back in February in relation to his own yearbook pictures.
Northam initially apologized but then later denied he was pictured in a 1984 medical yearbook photo that showed a man wearing blackface and another dressed in a Ku Klux Klan hood.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was embroiled in a blackface controversy earlier this year, which was related to 1984 medical yearbook pictures
The photo in question was published on a page featuring a number of other photos of Northam