Less than a day removed from multiple images coming out showing Justin Trudeau dressed in brownface and blackface, the Canadian prime minister told journalists he was “wary” of saying there would be no more photos released.
“I am wary of being definitive about this because the recent pictures that came out I had not remembered,” Trudeau told reporters in Winnipeg Thursday when asked if any more photos will come out.
“I think the question is ‘how could you not remember that?’ The fact is I didn’t understand how hurtful it is,” he added.
Trudeau went on to say that he didn’t talk about the incidents for years, even keeping it from his staff, because he “was embarrassed.” He emphasized that, at the time of wearing the racist makeup, he didn’t understand how hurtful his actions were and repeatedly apologized. He said that he has realized that with his white privilege comes “a massive blindspot.”
“I recognize that this is something that is unacceptable to do, it was blackface and it wasn't right,” he said. “I didn’t see that from the layers of privilege that I have and for that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize.”
The comments come less than a day after Time Magazine turned the Canadian election on its head by releasing a photo of Trudeau dressed in brownface at a 2001 private school gala. Trudeau was a teacher at the school, West Point Grey Academy, at the time and was dressed as Aladdin for an “Arabian Nights” dinner. He was 29 at the time.
Since then other photos of Trudeau at the gala, an image of him in high school in blackface with a large afro singing Day-Oh, and a video of him in blackface have surfaced. When addressing the initial Time photo last night, Trudeau only mentioned the high school photo.
Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer seized on this.
“I think Canadians might have been able to accept his apology if he hadn’t lied about it, but he was asked specifically if there was any other incident and he said there was only one incident,” said Scheer. “Now we know there are at least three and an apology based on a lie is not an apology.”
At least one of these incidents appear to have been the result of opposition research from the election, as Global News obtained the video of Trudeau from a Conservative party operative.
You can read the rest of VICE’s coverage on the controversy below:
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