CTV News | Federal Election 2019
Trump 'surprised' by Trudeau's racist blackface, brownface images
OTTAWA – U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that he was "surprised" when he saw the photos and video of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in blackface and brownface.
"I was hoping I wouldn't be asked that question… Justin, I'm surprised, and I was more surprised when I saw the number of times," Trump said in the Oval Office. "You know I've always had a good relationship with Justin, I just don't know what to tell you, I was surprised by it, actually."
His comment comes as Trudeau tries to change the channel from yesterday’s wall-to-wall coverage of his past racist incidents, and after numerous late-night hosts in the United States took aim at him over the controversy.
Trudeau spent the entire campaign day Thursday apologizing after three photos and one video emerged of three different instances.
Asked about Trump’s comment and whether his credibility has been damaged internationally, Trudeau said his focus is on the Canadians who experience discrimination daily.
"People who in many cases considered me to be an ally, who are deeply hurt by the terrible choices I made many years ago. I apologize deeply to them and I will focus on continuing what I have tried to do as a leader, which is always stand against racism and discrimination at home and on the world stage," he said in Toronto.
On Wednesday night, TIME Magazine published a photo from the 2000-2001 yearbook of West Point Grey Academy, a private day school in Vancouver where Trudeau was a teacher at the time. The photo, the Liberal campaign confirmed, was from the school’s annual dinner that had an "Arabian Nights" theme. Trudeau was dressed as Aladdin and had dark makeup on his face, neck, and hands.
CTV News then confirmed a second photo of Trudeau from that dinner. It shows Trudeau in the same Aladdin costume, with his arms around two men in turbans.
In apologizing for the first photo, Trudeau also admitted that he "dressed up at a talent show and sang Day-O. With makeup on," while he was in high school, referring to a Jamaican folk song called "Banana Boat Song (Day-O)." A photo of this incident was printed in his Montreal school Brebeuf College’s yearbook.
Then on Thursday morning, the Liberal campaign confirmed that there was also a video dated to the early 1990s showing Trudeau wearing blackface and waving his arms, which also appeared darkened.
On Friday, Trudeau said that this clip was part of a "costume day" for whitewater river rafting guides, a summer job he had in the early 1990s -- his guess was that it was between 1992 and 1994.
Both Republican and Democrat American politicians have faced scrutiny and have had to apologize over wearing blackface, the offensive practice rooted in early 19th-century American culture, of white people painting their faces to portray caricatures of black people.