CTV News | Federal Election 2019
Trudeau and Singh speak about blackface scandal
OTTAWA – Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has now spoken to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to apologize personally to his opponent over photos and a video of him in blackface and brownface.
Both leaders were in the Vancouver area Tuesday. Trudeau started in Burnaby, B.C., which is Singh’s home riding, and was scheduled to have a rally in Surrey, B.C. in the evening. Singh landed in Burnaby, where he was scheduled to have a town hall.
CTV News’ Annie Bergeron-Oliver, who is on the campaign trail with Singh, reports the more than 10-minute conversation happened over the phone while Singh sat at the back of the campaign bus on the way to a stop in his riding of Burnaby South.
Bergeron-Oliver says reporters who were on the same bus as Singh at the time were not aware the call had happened as it was kept quiet and Singh was surrounded by campaign staff and top advisors.
Reporters have been told the conversation would remain private.
Trudeau said earlier Tuesday that the two leaders' offices "are working together to coordinate" what would be a closed-door conversation, out of the light of the national campaign.
Late last week, while taking steps to get his campaign back on track, Trudeau asked for a meeting with Singh so he could speak directly with him, as Trudeau had been doing in phone calls with community leaders and his candidates.
Singh has said that while Trudeau has expressed "a desire to talk," it will have to be a private conversation because the NDP leader is not interested in being used "as a tool in his exoneration," or as part of a Liberal public relations campaign in the wake of the controversy.
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First there were the photos of Trudeau from 2001 at the private school's "Arabian Nights" themed dinner, where Trudeau dressed as Aladdin with dark makeup on his face, neck, and hands. Then Trudeau admitted to dressing up for his high school talent show where he performed the Jamaican folk song "Day-O," and the next day the Liberal campaign confirmed that a video dated to the early 1990s was also Trudeau, shown again wearing blackface and waving his arms. After the video came out Trudeau said that it was part of a "costume day" at a summer job he had.
Trudeau is still facing questions from reporters about costumes he was wearing in the video, but is offering no new comment or details. On Monday he was asked what the costume was exactly. Trudeau responded that he was being "open" with Canadians and restated that it was wrong, but wouldn't speak about the costume.
On Tuesday, Trudeau was asked how he could say he was still being open about the incidents, without commenting directly on them when asked. Trudeau said he understood the question before stating: "Let me make it very, very clear, there is no situation in which that would be appropriate. The racist history of blackface makes it wrong in any situation, in any circumstance. I did not know that then and I should have, and I take responsibility for that."
With files from CTVNews.ca's Ben Cousins in Toronto