It was already clear this week that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced an uphill climb in the upcoming election. Then things got a whole lot worse on Wednesday, when a picture surfaced of Trudeau in brownface. And yet, things got even worse Thursday morning: A newly surfaced video showed Trudeau in blackface, making it the third known instance of the prime minister wearing racist makeup.
The new video, published by Global News on Thursday, shows Trudeau in dark makeup, raising his hands and laughing. The outlet said it received the video from a source earlier this week, and that a senior member of the Liberal campaign confirmed early Thursday the footage is indeed of Trudeau.
The blackface video comes just one day after Time reported on a photo of Trudeau wearing brownface at an “Arabian Nights” party in 2001. Trudeau owned up to the picture, which was published in the yearbook of West Point Grey Academy, a private school where he used to teach. The photo shows Trudeau in a robe and turban, with dark makeup covering his face and arms, in an apparent attempt at an Aladdin costume. The picture surfaced exactly one week after he announced his re-election bid.
“I should have known better then, but I didn’t, and I am deeply sorry for it,” Trudeau told reporters Wednesday night. “I’m going to ask Canadians to forgive me for what I did. I shouldn’t have done that. I take responsibility for it. It was a dumb thing to do.”
When discussing the brownface photo, Trudeau also admitted he wore blackface in high school to sing “Day-O,” which is a Jamaican folk song made famous by Harry Belafonte, but he did not bring up the video published by Global News.
The racist scandals certainly won’t help Trudeau’s standing with Canadian voters — and he needs all the help he can get. The latest aggregate of polls, compiled by Abacus Data before the brownface photo surfaced, showed Trudeau’s Liberals just slightly behind Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, 35 percent to 34 percent. That’s a difference well within the margin of error, but it shows Trudeau’s re-election is anything but a lock. And polls this year have shown Trudeau’s approval rating slipping to around 40 percent, which is even worse than President Trump’s.
While it’s not yet clear what effect the brownface scandal will have on his poll numbers, it’s yet another major issue for Trudeau, who was already mired in a corruption scandal. In August, he admitted that he broke ethics rules by trying to influence a corporate legal case.
All in all, it’s been a downward slide for Trudeau, who began his term boasting incredible popularity.
“The case has never been conclusively made that Justin is a person of substance,” Robert Bothwell, a professor of Canadian history and international relations at the University of Toronto, told the AP. “I mean, he may well be. But that impression is just not out there.”
Cover: Canadian Prime Minister and Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau makes a statement in regards to a photo coming to light of himself from 2001, wearing "brownface," during a scrum on his campaign plane in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)