Canadians reported sightings this weekend of campaign signs and billboards across Canada defaced with markers to simulate blackface in a mocking reference to the scandal that engulfed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week when photos and videos of blackface performances from his younger days surfaced.
Some of the graffiti was reportedly accompanied by racist slurs and symbols, leading observers to assume the blackface vandalism was the work of racists or hate groups. Other instances were interpreted as mockery of Trudeau and his Liberal party.
Stephen Fuhr, a Liberal candidate whose campaign signs were vandalized with blackface, resented the “really sad and unfortunate” effort to associate him with Trudeau’s scandal.
“They didn’t knock the sign over or take it out or rip it in half. They’re trying to tie my efforts in this community to the larger conversation that’s happening in the nation right now, and quite frankly, in the world,” Fuhr told the Huffington Post on Thursday.
Fuhr added that he does not believe Trudeau should step down.
“I think the prime minister did the right thing. He apologized for it. I mean those photos are 15, 18, 20 years old when he was in his late teens, early 20s. And at the time, I don’t think he knew, or he really fully understood what it is that that meant,” he said.
“I’ve got to know him over the last four years, and he is absolutely 100 percent not a racist. That I can tell you definitively,” Fuhr said of Trudeau.
The blackface graffiti was denounced by Conservatives as well. A Conservative candidate in Fuhr’s area named Tracy Gray reported spotting blackface on at least one other candidate’s sign.
“I reached out to their campaign, and the candidate directly to let them know. This is unacceptable, and I definitely do not condone this behavior,” said Gray.
“I do find it disturbing. It’s disappointing. A lot of effort goes into producing signs and so people can have access to our party’s messages and who the candidate is,” said Liberal candidate Heather Megill, whose signs were vandalized with blackface on Friday.
Megill also waved aside the Trudeau scandal, accepted his apology, and pronounced him free of racism.
“He is a good man of the 21st century. I don’t believe there was ill-intent of his actions. I would take that apology and everyone learn from it and be more thoughtful about the things we say and do,” she said.
Few of these Liberal candidates appear to have considered the possibility that their signs might have been defaced by Liberal-leaning vandals upset by the party giving Trudeau a pass for conduct that would have ended many other political careers. Both the party and Trudeau appear to have taken significant political hits from the scandal.