Trudeau's brownface, blackface photos draw mixed reactions from Canadians
TORONTO -- Canadians across the country are facing mixed emotions when it comes to images and video of Justin Trudeau in blackface and brownface.
Three separate instances of the Liberal leader donning the racist makeup have emerged in the last day. Trudeau has apologized for the images and video, though many Canadian voters remain angry.
Sandy Hudson, a community organizer and a black woman, said the photos weren’t shocking given Trudeau’s actions on a number of subjects concerning people of colour.
She cites his government’s decision not to fully expunge the criminal records of those convicted of simple cannabis possession once the drug became legal and his treatment of former Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes after she announced she would not run in the 2019 election as examples of Trudeau being inconsiderate to people of other races.
“Honestly, I was not that surprised,” she told CTV News Channel on Thursday. “I think the type of person that Justin Trudeau has shown to himself to be over the years, if we look at his record, quite frankly, jibes quite well with this.”
Brittany Andrew-Amofah, a senior policy analyst at the Broadbent Institute in Toronto, agreed with Hudson regarding Trudeau’s policies toward racialized Canadians.
“Seeing that photo was very much in line with how I see Justin Trudeau in these last four years,” she said. “His understanding of racial justice is extremely surface level. (He) hasn’t made any meaningful gains toward actually achieving justice and putting fourth solutions to eradicate issues of racism.”
In Trudeau’s multicultural riding of Papineau in downtown Montreal, Trudeau still has strong support and residents mostly disagreed that the dark makeup he wore was racist.
"He's entitled to make mistakes and he apologized,” one white man told CTV Montreal. “I think the incident is closed."
Former boxer Ali Nestor trained Trudeau for a charity boxing match with former Sen. Patrick Brazeau in 2012. He spoke to him just hours after the images emerged.
“He regrets what he did,” Nestor told CTV News in French. “I told him that his intentions were not mock or hurt. He made an error. That should be forgiven.”
Zahid Nassar, an immigrant from Pakistan, told The Canadian Press that he's not bothered by the images because they were taken nearly 20 years ago and many people do things they regret at a younger age.
Two black men also told CTV Montreal that they didn’t think the blackface makeup was racist, but others residents were not as forgiving.
"I think it's more ignorant and really, you don't think about others when you do that,” one woman said.
Melayna Williams, director of rights at the Race Advocacy Coalition for Equality in Toronto, said she was “devastated” and “a little upset” when she saw the photo on Wednesday night.
“I think it’s a crucial and critical moment for Justin Trudeau’s campaign,” she said. “I also think that Jagmeet Singh had an oppourtunity to really speak from his heart, something that Andrew Scheer cannot do on this issue, but I do believe when Jagmeet said it shows (Trudeau’s) character.”
With files from The Canadian Press