UPDATE: This post has been updated to include Sgro's apology and comments from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.
A longtime Liberal MP who is running for reelection claims her Black constituents “love” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau more because he did blackface.
Judy Sgro, who has been MP for Humber River-Black Creek since 1999, made the comments while doing an interview with Toronto online radio station GBKM FM.
When asked by host Jacqueline Dixon to speak to how the community is responding to the revelation that Trudeau has worn blackface at least three times, Sgro minimized the scandal.
“Those in the Black community have told me how much more love they have for the prime minister that he wanted to have a black face. He took great pride in that too,” Sgro said. “It’s the media that have blown this into something that it shouldn’t.”
Seventy-four percent of the residents in Sgro's riding are visible minorities, according to Statistics Canada.
Sgro went on to say Black voters are “finding more ways that they can show how much they support and love the prime minister.”
Sgro also excused Trudeau’s behaviour because of how long ago it took place. Trudeau was 29 when he wore blackface at a staff party for Vancouver private school West Point Grey Academy in 2001.
“All of us were young at one time and all of us sometimes made poor choices and did things that may not be appropriate in today’s world,” she said.
VICE has reached out to Sgro for comment but did not immediately hear back.
However, Sgro issued an apology for her "insensitive" comments Wednesday afternoon.
"This story of blackface is deeply racist and is nothing other than discriminatory," she said. "This issue has sparked an important conversation in our country and needs to be treated with great seriousness and sensitivity."
In a press conference, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh described Sgro's comments as "shameful." He said they illustrate a "massive disconnect" between the Liberal party and what real people are experiencing.
Sgro's comments contradict Trudeau’s official stance on the issue. He has repeatedly said that he didn’t know it was wrong back then, but he does now.
In a segment on Jessi Cruickshank’s online show New Mom, Who Dis? posted on Tuesday, two young Black girls asked Trudeau, “Why did you paint your face brown?”
"It was something I shouldn't have done," he said, noting that he’s spoken to his own kids about taking responsibility for one’s actions.
“I’m sorry that I hurt you as well. I’m sorry that I hurt kids who facing teasing and discrimination because of the colour of their skin,” Trudeau said.