Politics

Manitoba politicians, people react to Justin Trudeau in racist makeup

Manitoba politicians are speaking out after two pictures and one video showing Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wearing racist makeup have surfaced.

Markus Chambers, Winnipeg’s first black city councillor, told Global News that he’s disappointed.

“It is absolutely deplorable,” Chambers said.

“It was a very painful time for people of colour when these incidents occurred.”

The first image of Trudeau, released by Time magazine on Wednesday, shows Trudeau in 2001 at an “Arabian Nights”-themed gala held by the private school in British Columbia where he worked as a teacher.

While apologizing for the first image, Trudeau admitted to a second instance where he wore racist makeup. A photo then surfaced of him at a high school talent show performing the song Day-O.

Global News then obtained exclusive video of a third instance of Trudeau wearing racist makeup in the early 1990s.

The video shows Trudeau covered in what appears to be dark makeup and raising his hands in the air while laughing, sticking his tongue out and making faces. He’s wearing a white T-shirt, and his jeans are ripped at the knees. It appears as though his arms and legs are covered in makeup as well.

It does not appear the video was shot at the same time and place as the other photos of Trudeau in racist makeup.

Global News obtained the video from a source within the Conservative Party of Canada and independently verified it to be true with Liberal party officials before reporting on it.

While Trudeau was not prime minister when any of these instances occurred, Chambers said it doesn’t matter.

“I think we hold our elected officials to a higher standard,” Chambers said.

“It happened when he was younger, but not at the point where he didn’t know better.”

Jamie Moses, one of three black MLAs elected for the first in Manitoba’s 2019 election, echoed comments made by Chambers.

“I’m shocked and disappointed,” Moses said. “We know that sort of thing is not OK. It wasn’t OK then and it’s not OK now.”

Moses said there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to battling racism, but he doesn’t want people of colour to give up.

“Especially young people who have been disheartened by this know that they have value, that they have a place here, that they can continue to work hard an succeed for the future and that the actions of one person, no matter their position or profile, doesn’t change their value.”

However, several people of colour in Winnipeg’s Exchange District said they weren’t particularly offended Thursday.

“Honestly, I laughed at it,” said one.

Another said it appeared Trudeau had learned from his mistakes.

Trudeau said Thursday he had a message for racialized Canadians specifically.

“What I did hurt them, hurt people who shouldn’t have to face intolerance and discrimination because of their identity,” he told reporters.

“This is something that I deeply, deeply regret.”

Trudeau apologized several times for his past acts, but said he can’t remember if he was involved in more racist makeup incidents.


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