Local Liberal candidate Seamus Heffernan says he believes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is sincerely repentant for wearing brownface on several occasions.
“I was surprised and disappointed,” Heffernan told The News Thursday of having learned that Trudeau had been photographed dressed in a turban with his face painted brown. Several other images have since been unearthed.
Heffernan said Trudeau will learn from the episode.
“It’s very clear to me that he’s taken this very much to heart and that his contrition is very genuine,” he said. “I’m still proud to be a part of his team, and working on this campaign.”
Heffernan said the Liberals policies and actions under Trudeau show that he believes in a multi-cultural Canada. He pointed to the Liberals’ funding of anti-racism programs, immigration policies and welcoming of Syrian refugees.
“I think his track record proves what his real character in regards to this issue.”
Asked what he would say to Abbotsford residents who are personally feeling hurt by the photos, Heffernan said:
“Whenever anything like this happens, to learn from it and move on, you have to have tough conversations and you can’t shy away from those. If I was challenged by somebody about this, I’d say, speaking from my own experience and speaking with the Prime Minister and hearing how sincere in his apology he is, I would again point out what he has done since and his record as a public servant and a leader, that I believe that this error of judgement of his in the past is not representative of either him or the direction of this government in anyway.”
Heffernan said he had never worn brown or blackface.
The News has not yet been able to reach Jati Sidhu, the Liberal MP for the neighbouring riding of Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon.