justin trudeau blackface

Justin Trudeau apologizes to racialized Canadians over blackface scandal

With just weeks to go before Canada's 2019 federal election, Liberal party leader and current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is embroiled in controversy over photos of his younger self wearing brown- and blackface makeup.

The first image, of Trudeau wearing racist makeup at an "Arabian Nights"-themed party in 2001, leaked on Wednesday evening, prompting the PM to release an apology statement from his campaign plane.

By Thursday afternoon, two more photos and a video had hit the viral web: One from a high-school talent show in which Trudeau had painted his skin black to sing "Day O," another from an unspecified event in the 1990s, and a third from the Arabian Nights party mentioned above.

Liberal campaign managers reportedly cancelled at least one of Trudeau's scheduled appearances this morning as the party spun into damage control mode.

It wasn't until around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday that he addressed the fast-snowballing scandal.

"I want to begin by saying a few words directly to racialized Canadians who face discrimination every single day in their lives, even in a country like Canada," he said at a press conference in Winnipeg.

"What I did hurt them, hurt people, who shouldn't have to face intolerance and discrimination because of their identity."

"Darkening your face, regardless of the context of the circumstances, is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface," said Trudeau. "I should have understood that then, and I never should have done it."

When asked if the public could expect any more racist images to leak, the PM said that he was wary of saying anything definitively, as he did not even remember the photos that came out this week.

Trudeau also said he is embarrased by the scandal, especially given how much he's championed diversity throughout his political career.

"I have always acknowledged that I come from a place of privilege, but I now need to acknowledge that that comes from a massive blind spot," he told reporters today.

"I have dedicated my leadership and service to Canada to try and counter intolerance and racism everywhere I can…. but this has been, personally, a moment where I've had to reflect on the fact that wanting to do good… simply isn't good enough."

Trudeau says he accepts full responsibility for his past actions and calls them a "terrible mistake."

Lead photo by

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