Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s blackface scandal continues to dog him, as he refuses to say how many times he has donned racially offensive makeup in his life.
At a town hall meeting in Saskatoon on Thursday night, Trudeau faced tough questions about the imbroglio despite the crowd being stocked with supporters from his ruling Liberal Party.
‘Earlier today you were questioned about how many times you appeared in blackface or brownface – I’ll make it easy, is it possible to round to the nearest five?’ one man at the town hall asked Trudeau.
Dodging the question, Trudeau again refused to estimate how many times he had donned blackface, replying: ‘I’m not going to make light of the situation, I don’t think it’s something we should be making light of.’
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks at a rally in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Thursday
This April 2001 photo, which appeared in a newsletter from the West Point Grey Academy, shows a costumed Justin Trudeau, his face and hands darkened by makeup, attending an ‘Arabian Nights’ gala. The academy is a private school in Vancouver where Trudeau taught
Two more images emerged showing Trudeau in blackface in high school in the 1990s (left) and in an undated incident (right)
‘Far too many people in this country face intolerance and discrimination on a daily basis, and what I did was inexcusable and wrong, and hurt a lot of people who consider me to be an ally,’ Trudeau continued. ‘I am deeply deeply sorry.’
So far, photos showing three separate incidents from Trudeau’s past have emerged, shocking supporters of the outspokenly ‘woke’ prime minister whose father was the pioneer of Canadian ‘multiculturalism.’
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 in the 1980s came out on Thursday morning.
Canada’s Global News TV network reported a third instance, broadcasting a brief video of Trudeau in blackface while raising his hands in the air and sticking out his tongue. A Liberal Party spokeswoman said the footage was from the early 1990s.
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.
Trudeau faced tough questions about the imbroglio despite the crowd at the town hall being stocked with supporters from his ruling Liberal Party
The 47-year-old Trudeau faces a serious challenge from the opposition Conservative Party in next month’s elections, and his quick apology did not stem the criticism from political opponents.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, reacted by declaring Trudeau ‘not fit to govern this country.’
Left-wing New Democrat Party leader Jagmeet Singh, who is a Sikh, added to the criticism.
‘I am deeply troubled by what this means to Canada. Young kids are not just going to see just one or two but multiple images of the prime minister mocking their lived reality,’ said Singh.
‘This is so hurtful to so many Canadians.’
Trudeau’s opponents, Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer (left) and New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh (right) condemned him over the blackface photos
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologizes on Thursday for his blackface shame
Trudeau, though, gave no sign whatsoever that he might resign, and there were no immediate calls from any leading figures in his Liberal Party to step down.
Instead, many Liberals, some of them non-white, rallied around him.
‘I think the real measure of the man, and I think the thing we need to be talking about, is all the amazing things we have done for diversity,’ said Greg Fergus, a Liberal member of Parliament who is black.
Fergus said there was a lot of confusion and hurt in the black community, but he noted that Trudeau apologized.
And he pointed out that it was Trudeau who put Viola Desmond, a black woman who refused to leave the whites-only section of a Canadian movie theater in 1944, on the country’s $10 bill.
Justin Trudeau makes a statement in regards to a photo coming to light of himself from 2001, wearing ‘brownface,’ during a scrum on his campaign plane on Wednesday
Trudeau has long championed multiculturalism and immigration, with Canada accepting more refugees than the U.S. under the Trump administration.
Half of Trudeau’s Cabinet is made up of women, four are Sikhs, and his immigration minister is a Somali-born refugee. Canada has over 1.9 million people of South Asian descent out of a population of 37 million.
Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, a Liberal who is Sikh, said that the brownface picture was wrong but that Trudeau has a record of standing up for minorities.
Trudeau named Sajjan Canada’s first Sikh defense chief in 2015.
Mitzie Hunter, a Liberal who is running to lead the party in Ontario and is black, tweeted: ‘I know it is not representative of the man he is. This is a teachable moment for all of us. I accept his apology and I hope Canadians do too.’