Left-wing New Democrat Party leader Jagmeet Singh, the high-profile visible minority politician in Canada, has spoken about prime minister Justin Trudeau’s brownface controversy, saying it is “hurtful to so many Canadians.”
Trudeau was forced to apologise on Wednesday (18) after a photograph emerged showing him blackened up at an Arabian-themed party. The then 29-year-old Trudeau was a teacher at a private school.
Reacting to the photograph, Singh said on Wednesday: “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. This is so hurtful to so many Canadians.”
Although Trudeau has apologised, the controversy refuses to die down.
At a town hall meeting in Saskatoon on Thursday night, a man ripped into the prime minister for refusing to say how many times he has appeared in blackface or brownface.
”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?’ the man asked.
Dodging the question, Trudeau answered, “I’m not going to make light of the situation, I don’t think it’s something we should be making light of.”
“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.”
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.