Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)


CANADIAN prime minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday apologised for wearing brownface makeup at an Arabian Nights theme party in 2001.

Trudeau was teaching at a private school, the West Point Grey Academy, at the time and the photograph shows the then 29-year-old in a turbaned and robes. His face, neck and hands are completely darkened.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday (19), the prime minister said: “I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better and I didn’t. I’m really sorry.”

He also acknowledged that the photograph was racist.

“Yes it was. I didn’t consider it racist at the time, but now we know better,” he said.

Trudeau also admitted to wearing black makeup in high school to perform at a talent show.

The Liberal Party of Canada confirmed on Wednesday that it is Trudeau in the photograph.

“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 in a statement. “He attended with friends and colleagues dressed as a character from Aladdin.”

Trudeau worked at the private school before entering politics, teaching French among other classes. He left his teaching position in the school after spring 2001.

The photo comes at a critical time for Trudeau, who is seeking re-election. The emergence of this photograph could undermine his chances of winning the election when Canada goes to polls in less than five weeks.

He is facing a tough re-election battle against the main opposition led by Andrew Scheer.