Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have entered the last weekend of his re-election campaign in a neck-and-neck race with Canadian conservative party leaders, but his poll numbers weren’t the most shocking thing he encountered.“[Trudeau] was greeted by a group of protesters, at one of his stops, decked out in blackface while holding up the old blackface photos of Trudeau that threw him into a storm of controversy,” according to the entertainment news outlet. “The demonstrators also had signs reading, ‘We’re Aladdin Too! Orillia Blackface Club Welcomes Trudeau.'”
Justin Trudeau has been trying to make amends since photos surfaced, weeks ago, showing him in full blackface for an “Arabian Nights”-themed event in 2001. It eventually surfaced that Trudeau had donned inappropriate costumes several times in recent history, including for a video where he posed as singer Harry Belafonte for a performance of one of Belafonte’s signature songs.
At least two versions of the latter incident have surfaced, including a high-resolution video.
The famously woke Trudeau tried to downplay the incidents, claiming in a public apology, that he was too young to understand the ramefications of his behavior, though he was nearly thirty when he painted his arms, hands, and face brown for an Aladdin costume. He also tried to claim that he selected his costumes during a time when blackface was not considered as inappropriate, even though the earliest example of Trudeau’s racially inappropriate behavior was from 2001.
To pay penance, Trudeau even made an appearance on a Canadian kids show, where a pair of young black girls confronted him on the subject of blackface. Trudeau was, oddly, unable to fully explain why he thought the costumes were appropriate.
“Um, it was something I shouldn’t have done because it hurt people,” he told the twins. “It’s not something you should do and that is something that I learned. It’s something I didn’t know back then but I know it now. And I’m sorry I hurt people.”
Trudeau’s habit of employing blackface isn’t his only scandal, though. The self-proclaimed feminist is also accused of bullying out a female, indigenous minister in his government — an attorney general — after she refused to bow to his demand that the Attorney General’s office cease prosecuting an energy company with ties to Trudeau and some of his closest friends. That incident cost him a lot of support within his own party (even if they were quick to forgive the blackface incidents).
Canadians go to the polls to select their majority party this week, and Trudeau, who was once extremely popular in Canada, is now facing the possibility that he will not be re-elected. Trudeau’s Liberal Party is now running neck-and-neck with the country’s conservatives, and even if it pulls out a victory, will likely be forced to create a coalition government. That means that Trudeau won’t have quite the mandate — or quite the power — he now enjoys.