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Trudeau forgets how many times he wore blackface

Media captionTrudeau: “I come from a place of privilege”

Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau admits he cannot remember how often he wore blackface, as the row deepens ahead of an election in October.

He was speaking on the day that more images of him wearing black make-up when he was younger emerged.

“I am wary of being definitive about this because the recent pictures that came out, I had not remembered,” he told reporters in Winnipeg.

The revelations have rattled his campaign in a tight re-election race.

A new video came to light on Thursday in which he is seen in a white T-shirt and torn jeans, his face and limbs covered in black make-up.

In the footage, shot in the 1990s, he is seen laughing, throwing his hands in the air, sticking his tongue out and pulling faces.

Image copyright
Globe and Mail, Global News, Time Magazine

Image caption

Three instances of Mr Trudeau wearing black or brown make-up have emerged

What is in the video?

The footage, first obtained by Global News, shows Mr Trudeau in a white T-shirt and torn jeans. According to his Liberal Party, it was shot in the 1990s.

His face and limbs appear to be covered in black make-up. He is seen laughing, throwing his hands in the air, sticking his tongue out and pulling faces.

Mr Trudeau would have been in his late teens or early 20s.

Blackface, which was more prevalent in the past, particularly in the entertainment industry, involves white people painting their faces darker – and is widely condemned as a racist caricature.

Media caption“Long time ago” – Canadians react to Trudeau brownface images

What about the other episodes?

On Wednesday, the embattled PM apologised for wearing brownface make-up at a gala at a private Vancouver school where he taught nearly two decades ago.

The 2001 yearbook picture obtained by Time Magazine shows Mr Trudeau, then aged 29, with skin-darkening make-up on his face and hands at the West Point Grey Academy.

Mr Trudeau dressed up in the photo in an Aladdin costume.

Image copyright
Time Magazine

The second image to emerge on Wednesday shows Mr Trudeau performing in a talent show as a student at high school.

He wore blackface and sang Day-O, a Jamaican folk song popularised by American civil rights activist Harry Belafonte.

How did Trudeau respond?

The images are so embarrassing for the prime minister because he has positioned himself as a champion of social justice, inclusivity and diversity.

When the cabinet was sworn in in 2015, it was hailed as diverse – half the appointments were women; three were Sikhs and two members were from indigenous communities.

Speaking in Winnepeg, he said: “Darkening your face regardless of the context or the circumstances is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface.

“I should have understood that then and I never should have done it.”

What reaction has there been?

Referring to the brownface episode, Andrew Scheer, leader of the opposition Conservatives, said the picture was racist in 2001 and was racist now.

“What Canadians saw this evening is someone with a total lack of judgement and integrity and someone who is not fit to govern this country,” he said.

New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh, said the image was “troubling” and “insulting”.

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Trudeau forgets how many times he wore blackface

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