Canada’s Global News broadcaster published a video Thursday morning that alleges to show Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wearing blackface and an Afro wig and waving his hands in the air.
Global News noted Trudeau’s campaign did not deny the authenticity of the video, instead directing the network to Trudeau’s Wednesday night apology for two other instances that have surfaced of him darkening his skin for racist costumes.
Time magazine published an image on Wednesday of Trudeau wearing brownface and a stereotypical “Arabic” costume; Trudeau confirmed he was the man in the photo and claimed the dark skin and oversized turban were part of an “Aladdin” costume for an “Arabian Nights” theme party in 2001.
He told reporters he also wore blackface in high school for a performance of “The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” by Harry Belafonte; journalists quickly unearthed an image matching that description.
Trudeau did not mention any other instances of darkening his skin for comedic effect and said of the other two examples, “these are the situations I regret deeply.”
The Global News video is about 13 seconds long and shows two other individuals in costume, though the resolution is so low that neither their faces nor their costumes are recognizable. A more closely framed image shows a man in blackface, an Afro wig, jeans and a white t-shirt waving his arms around and laughing; Global News asserts that the man is Trudeau. The blackface wearer in the video appears to resemble the image of Trudeau in the “Arabian Nights” photo, but Trudeau has not confirmed that it is him.
Global News has obtained video showing Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in blackface, the third instance of racist dress to come to light in 12 hours. Global's @MercedesGlobal, who broke this story, has more. #cdnpoli #elxn43
— Globalnews.ca (@globalnews) September 19, 2019
The quality of the video makes it appear to be an old VHS recording, though newer images could be edited to offer that aesthetic.
Global News admits its journalists have no knowledge of “when or where the video was taken” and could not get Trudeau or his team to confirm or deny his identity in the video. The outlet did receive a confirmation from, “a senior member of the Liberal campaign” that the man in the video is Trudeau. Yet the person believed to have recorded the video, who Global News contacted, would not confirm the identity of the people in the video.
“The Liberal party referred Global News to his Wednesday night apology when asked about the new video,” Global News said.
“I dressed up in Aladdin costume and put makeup on. I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better, but I didn’t. And I’m really sorry,” Trudeau said on Wednesday, referring to the brownface and blackface costumes only as “makeup.” Trudeau said he took “responsibility for my decision to do that,” but would not answer if he had considered resigning and did not specify any consequences he believed he should incur for his racist disguises.
Asked, “what is the consequence for you?” following the revelations, Trudeau responded that he deserved to be part of “an important conversation.”
Trudeau also gave the impression he had donned face paint to mock another race only on two occasions, leaving open the question of when the Global News video is from.
Asked if there were other occasions in which he engaged in racist behavior, Trudeau said, “I think it’s been plenty.” Asked to specify if there were more instances than the two known, he responded, “these are the situations I regret deeply.”
Trudeau is famously fond of wearing the traditional clothing of ethnicities other than his own, most prominently polarizing Canadians with his ostentatious displays during a trip to India last year. Trudeau and his family contrasted sharply in their purple and golden Indian outfits during a meeting with Bollywood superstars, most of whom wore Western-style suits or simple black clothing.
Trudeau has also worn traditional Chinese clothing on several occasions, making headlines in Chinese state propaganda outlets. Trudeau accepted the nickname “Little Potato” during a 2016 trip to China, an allusion to the similarity between his last name and the Mandarin word for the potato, “tudou.” His father, late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, was referred to as “senior potato,” according to Global News.
Trudeau is currently embroiled in a deadlocked election, facing an uphill battle against Canadians’ fatigue at the extreme left turn the Liberal Party took during his tenure. Poll numbers for the Liberals began cratering in April; at press time, CBC reports that polling averages show a dead heat between the Liberals and Conservatives. The Conservatives edge out the Liberal Party by 0.2 percent in CBC’s average.
“[T]here’s a question in my mind, ‘Is this something you can come back from?’” University of B.C. political scientist Max Cameron told the Vancouver Sun on Thursday, praising Trudeau’s apology but noting, “He embodies white privilege and he should have known better.”
Canadians go to the polls on October 21.