Bruh by Isabella Weiner September 20, 2019
Canadian Prime Minister and former certified Golden Boy Justin Trudeau — a guy who could stand up to Trump and openly flirt with Melania — caused a massive uproar when pictures of him in brownface at an “Arabian Nights” party in 2001 surfaced online.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wore brownface makeup, a turban and robes at a party in 2001, yearbook photo shows, according to TIME magazine pic.twitter.com/SLlSG61wz3
— BNO News (@BNONews) September 18, 2019
And that’s not the PM’s only racist image to come to light this week. A video from the Canadian-based GlobalNews shows Trudeau in blackface and sporting an afro, dated in the early 1990s, was released. Another image shows a high-school-age Trudeau in blackface performing “Day-O.”
This was repeated behavior, not just a slip-up.
When asked by the media if he could think of more instances when he sported brownface or blackface, Trudeau could not even give a definitive answer. WHAT?!
Justin Trudeau says he cannot be "definitive" that there are not more blackface photos https://t.co/REi9YBCYp2 pic.twitter.com/MU7WJeCZ3D
— The Hill (@thehill) September 19, 2019
Like, I might expect this from the Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam (no offense to Virginia), whose own blackface scandal last year led to many, including several 2020 candidates, to call for his resignation.
But our guy in the North?
This is the same guy who championed multiculturalism, who appointed Canada’s first Indigenous Attorney General, whose cabinet is comprised of nearly 50 percent women, and also counts four Sikhs and one Somali-born immigration minister among its members.
But in light of these images, perhaps the diversity he promoted was simply surface level, designed to boost his image and popularity in the polls. In his native Canada, Trudeau has long been accused of being an actor, or “playing the part” of Prime Minister while desperately seeking to maintain his celebrity.
Nicola di Iorio, a member of his party who stepped down from his Parliamentary position, asserted that “everything the prime minister does is a calculation about his image.”
This calls to mind Trudeau’s trip to India last year, during which he and his family wore “traditional” Indian dress, a calculated move that instead came off as tone-deaf and disrespectful.
Is it just me or is this choreographed cuteness all just a bit much now? Also FYI we Indians don’t dress like this every day sir, not even in Bollywood. pic.twitter.com/xqAqfPnRoZ
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) February 21, 2018
In February, Trudeau was also accused of bullying Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Indigenous attorney he appointed, pressuring her into settling a corruption case rather than levying criminal charges.
He may put diverse individuals in positions of power, but behind the scenes, he leverages his own power to undermine them. Wilson-Raybould later resigned.
In light of the most recent scandal, Trudeau has issued two brief apologies, acknowledging that she should have known better, that his behavior was unacceptable and hurts Canada’s multicultural communities, and that his privilege and race shields him from this discrimination.
What I did was hurtful to people who live with intolerance and discrimination every day. I recognize that, and I take full responsibility for it. I know that I let a lot of people down with that choice, and I am deeply sorry. pic.twitter.com/gLetjs6xAa
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) September 19, 2019
With Canadian federal elections coming up, Trudeau is already trying to shift the national conversation to the topic of gun control. But are Canadians so ready to move on? These are the conversations — about racism, about those in power, about diversity and inclusion– that need to happen.
And keep happening.