Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized after a 2001 photo of him wearing brownface makeup in an Arabian Nights-themed party surfaced.
“I shouldn’t have done it. I should have known better, but I didn’t,” Trudeau told reporters on Thursday, in footage aired by Canada’s Global News, about the photo found by Time Magazine.
“And I’m really sorry,” he added.
He said that the photo was taken in 2001 when he attended an end-of-the-year gala as a teacher and he was dressed as a character from Aladdin.
“I am going to be asking Canadians to forgive me for what I did … it was a dumb thing to do. I’m disappointed in myself. I’m pissed off with myself for having done it,” Trudeau stressed.
The photo of Trudeau surfaced about a month before Canada is set to hold federal elections on Oct. 21.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, Trudeau’s biggest rival in the polls, said he was “extremely shocked and disappointed” by the photo.
“Wearing brown face is an act of open mockery and racism. What Canadians saw this evening is someone with a complete lack of judgment and integrity and someone who’s not fit to govern this country,” he told reporters.
Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party, posted on Twitter that she was “deeply shocked by the racism shown in the photograph,” adding that Trudeau failed in this matter.
Brownface — when someone paints their face darker to seem like someone with a darker skin color — is seen, like its cousin blackface, to be a form of cultural appropriation and has resulted in politicians facing controversy and calls to resign.
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