A contrite Justin Trudeau publicly apologized Thursday for his "absolutely unacceptable" behavior, as the images of decades that showed the Canadian prime minister in black-faced makeup shook his re-election campaign.
Trudeau, 47, was already under fire for an ethical period and other controversies, so the resurgence of photos and videos of him participating in activities that he called "racist" gave a new blow to his possibilities.
"I recognize that it is something absolutely unacceptable," said Trudeau, who heads the Liberal Party, at a press conference during a campaign stop in Winnipeg.
"Darkening the face, regardless of context or circumstances, is always unacceptable due to the racist history of the black face," he said. "I should have understood it then and I should never have done it."
“The fact is that I did not understand how painful this is for people living with discrimination every day. I have always recognized that I come from a privileged place, but now I have to recognize that it comes with a massive blind spot. "
"And that's why I'm deeply sorry, and I apologize."
Previously, announcer Global news He threw condemning images of Trudeau in torn jeans and a T-shirt, his arms raised and with black face makeup, which his campaign confirmed to AFP they were taken "in the early 1990s".
This followed Hour The magazine published on Wednesday a photograph of him with dark makeup at a theme party of "The thousand and one nights" 18 years ago.
The son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, considered the father of modern Canada, also admitted this week that he was wearing similar makeup in his teens when he sang the 1956 Harry Belafonte hit "Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" at a school high school. talent contest.
He acknowledged that these actions were "racist" and that his enthusiasm for costumes, which also included disguising himself as a comic book hero Clark Kent / Superman and rebel pilot of "Star Wars" for Halloween, has not always been "appropriate."
Trudeau and the Liberals won a landslide victory in 2015, but this year they are in a contest against the conservatives led by Andrew Scheer.
Despite the political fury, Trudeau pressed on Thursday with campaign stops in Winnipeg and Saskatoon, before the October 21 elections.
Behind the mask
American politicians have been involved in a scandal in recent years when it was discovered that they were wearing black faces, dating from around 1830 and the tradition of so-called "minstrel shows." In the shows, white artists covered their faces with grease or bitumen paint and drew exaggerated lips in a black cartoon.
The portrayed stereotypes, that blacks were somehow inferior, ignorant, lazy and even animals, cemented racist attitudes for decades. Some of those images still persist today.
Trudeau is a fervent advocate of integral multiculturalism of Canadian identity, and at least six members of his cabinet have Asian or African heritage.
But the scandal will surely tarnish his image of a golden boy, already dented by accusations of political interference in a bribery case against the engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.
The leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May, described Trudeau's images as "shameful" and urged him to "walk the talk" about progressivism, while Maxime Bernier, a former chancellor who separated from the conservatives to form a party of Right from right, accused Trudeau of hypocrisy. .
"He is the master of identity politics," Bernier said in a Twitter message, having "spent months accusing everyone of being white supremacists."
Jagmeet Singh, an observer Sikh and leader of the New Democrats in third place, said the images showed Trudeau's "deeply disturbing" pattern of behavior.
"People who have suffered injuries from both physical violence and words, people who have not been able to get work due to the color of their skin are waking up to see the prime minister of this country mock his lived realities," he said. "Not only in one but in multiple images."
"This is very painful for many people."
Scheer, who has been Trudeau's most ardent critic and criticizes him for ethical failures, used the episode to once again question Trudeau's aptitude and "moral authority to rule."
Using brown face or black face, he said, "I was as racist in 2001 as it is in 2019". He also acknowledged that Trudeau's last video was provided to the conservative campaign, which he transmitted to Global news.