Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, currently fighting a tough election campaign, said Wednesday he “deeply regrets” having worn “racist” brownface makeup to a party at a school where he taught 18 years ago.
“Now I recognize it was something racist to do,” he told a televised news conference on his campaign aircraft. “This is something I deeply regret having done.”
US-based Time magazine published a photograph showing Trudeau, then 29, wearing a turban and robes with his face, neck and hands darkened at an “Arabian Nights” school gala in 2001.
Liberal Party spokesman Cameron Ahmad confirmed the photo is of Trudeau. He said it was taken at the school’s annual dinner, which had an “Arabian Nights” theme that year. Trudeau was dressed as a character from “Aladdin.”
Trudeau, who launched his reelection campaign exactly one week ago, said he should have known better.
— Globalnews.ca (@globalnews) September 18, 2019
“I’m pissed off at myself, I’m disappointed in myself,” Trudeau told reporters traveling with him on his campaign plane.
The photo’s publication could spell more trouble for Trudeau, who polls say is facing a serious challenge from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
Trudeau has been admired by liberals around the world for his progressive policies in the Trump era, with Canada accepting more refugees than the United States. His Liberal government has also strongly advocated free trade.
But the 47-year-old son of late prime minister Pierre Trudeau was already vulnerable following one of the biggest scandals in Canadian political history, which arose when Trudeau’s former attorney general said he improperly pressured her to halt the criminal prosecution of a company in Quebec. Trudeau has said he was standing up for jobs.