Trump’s surprise at blackface photos sums up world’s view of Trudeau

Other countries are used to seeing Trudeau as champion of inclusivity and diversity

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks with people in a cafe as he mainstreets in downtown Winnipeg on Thursday, Sept.19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Justin Trudeau pushed aside Friday global mockery of his decisions years ago to dress in blackface, saying he’s focused on apologizing to Canadians.

But images of the three times he chose to put on black- or brownface for costume events continued to flash around the world, reaching even the White House.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s reaction summed up how the incidents have surprised people accustomed to seeing Trudeau as a champion of inclusivity and diversity, raising questions about whether that brand is forever tarnished.

“I was hoping I wouldn’t be asked that question. … Justin. I’m surprised and I was more surprised when I saw the number of times and I’ve always had a good relationship with Justin. I just don’t know what to tell you. I was surprised by it, actually,” Trump said.

Trudeau apologized profusely for the third day in a row for the incidents — one from his teens, one from his time as a whitewater rafting guide in his 20s, and one when he was a teacher at a Vancouver private school. He said they were mistakes, and he did not understand at the time how racist it is to wear black- or brownface.

Former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, a Liberal, said she’s worried that the apology will fall on deaf ears around the world.

“People in other countries don’t have the benefit or the access or the interest in, quite frankly, the day-to-day machinations of Canadian politics so they don’t know him as well as we do,” she said.

“So they kind of had him on this pedestal, which was unrealistic and ridiculous, and now he’s fallen off that pedestal and so there’s almost even more of an oversimplification on the international stage: He was perfect and now he’s the devil.”

Since the first photo emerged Wednesday night, Trudeau has been calling members of his cabinet, candidates and community leaders to try to make amends. In turn, all day Thursday, many of them were speaking out publicly, if a tad cautiously, in support of their leader.

READ MORE: Trudeau seeks meeting with Singh to apologize for blackface, brownface photos

On Friday, the day after Trudeau was the butt of late-night TV jokes in the U.S. and shocked headlines around the world, Chrystia Freeland took a turn.

As Trudeau’s foreign affairs minister, she has had the ears of many influential leaders and their aides around the globe.

Freeland said she was troubled and disappointed by the images, calling racism and intolerance unacceptable. But she said she accepts his apology and commitment to do better.

“The prime minister continues to have my full and unwavering support,” she said in the statement posted to Twitter.

The incidents made the front pages of news websites around the globe.

Trudeau attracted scorn as well from prominent civil-rights advocates in the U.S., a country that has grappled with its own cases of prominent politicians having been found to have, or admitting to have, worn blackface.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Public art budgets could be used for gardens, Abbotsford councillor suggests

‘Gardens really are art,’ Coun. Brenda Falk says

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Majority of birds saved but buildings on Castleman Road destroyed by fire

Plainclothes Abbotsford police officer deletes cellphone video after drawing gun on innocent man

‘They never asked me what I was doing there, strictly came out with guns, threatening to shoot me’

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Most Read