Singh says racist photos latest in 'pattern of behaviour' from Trudeau
TORONTO -- NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says newly uncovered photographs showing Justin Trudeau in brownface and blackface are the latest sign that the Liberal leader’s actions do not always match his public persona.
“This raises questions about the sincerity of the prime minister, when he goes to events and says that multiculturalism is important and diversity is important – now people question the sincerity of that, and that’s very fair for people to do that,” Singh said Thursday on CTV’s Your Morning.
TIME Magazine published a photo Wednesday showing Trudeau in brownface makeup at an “Arabian Nights”-themed party in 2001, at the Vancouver private school where Trudeau was teaching at the time. The Liberal leader confirmed that the photo was of him and apologized for wearing brownface, calling his actions racist.
Trudeau also admitted to wearing blackface while in high school. The Liberal Party has confirmed the existence of a video from the 1990s showing Trudeau wearing makeup that has darkened his skin.
Singh described these incidents as part of a “pattern of behaviour” that included Trudeau’s response in March to a protester who interrupted a Liberal Party fundraiser.
The protester from the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northern Ontario, which has been dealing with the effects of mercury poisoning for decades, called out to Trudeau during his speech, asking him what he would do about their community’s plight.
Trudeau responded by cheekily thanking the protester for making a donation to the party by attending the fundraiser. He later said he had demonstrated a “lack of respect” and apologized.
“Instead of responding to those folks and saying that we need help, he mocked them, made fun of them, and was applauded and cheered on by those attending this fundraiser,” Singh said Thursday.
“That to me shows the utter lack of compassion for humans that are going through mercury poisoning, and that to me really builds out a story that this is not an isolated incident – it’s a pattern of behaviour that Mr. Trudeau is very different behind closed doors than what he shows people in public.”
Singh said the photos of Trudeau would cause people of colour to recall instances of racism they have faced in the past and potentially question their place in Canada.
The NDP leader sidestepped a question on whether he personally feels Trudeau should resign, saying he would leave that up to the voters.
“I think people will answer that question,” he said.
Asked at a campaign stop in Hamilton if he would shake Trudeau’s hand at the upcoming federal debates, Singh did not directly answer.
“How do you respond to somebody, how do you look somebody in the eye that’s mocked the lived reality … that so many Canadians have lived? I think he’s got lots to answer for,” he said.