Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan in the summer of 2018. (Citizen file)

‘Youthful exuberance’ or ‘grievous deed’: opinion is divided on Trudeau’s ‘brown face’ costume

Local Liberal candidate asks voters to concentrate on Prime Minister’s political record

The brouhaha about pictures of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in brown face dressed in an Aladdin costume in 2001 is resounding around the country this week.

Trudeau admitted to this, and two other instances of using skin darkening makeup.

Locally, in the Cowichan Valley, Liberal candidate Blair Herbert said Thursday morning, “It was certainly the wrong thing to do. He had apologized. I watched that on TV last night and thought it was a heartfelt apology that he gave. I sort of put it down to youthful exuberance but nevertheless it was a good thing to do. I would rather look at what he has been able to accomplish in the last four years. He’s been a champion of diversity and multiculturalism in Canada and I think that’s a good thing in Canada and the world.

“You do grow up from the time when these acts were done, and I know myself, I’m now 64, I’m not the same person I was when I was 17. I said the other day I’m glad somebody wasn’t following me around with a camera and a microphone when I was 17 or 20.

“But the world has changed a bit in those years as well. That’s not an excuse but he came out, he talked to the reporters and gave a heartfelt apology and I think at this point that’s really about it.”

Jules Sherred, campaign manager for Alistair MacGregor’s Duncan campaign office, said that “Comments coming into the constituency office have been mixed because a lot of people in this riding do not understand what racism even looks like. As for Alistair, he just reiterates what Jagmeet [NDP leader Jagmeet Singh] says that this is about people who have experienced the pain of racism and that it’s time for Canadians to stand up for the values of diversity and inclusion.”

The office has received a few emails, he said.

“Some of them are very disappointed at Jagmeet’s reaction; they keep saying that Trudeau was a kid when this happened when he was 29 and a teacher in 2001, the year of Sept. 11. Everybody knew back then that black face and brown face was wrong. There have been a lot of people making excuses for Trudeau instead of listening to the people who are affected by this and hearing what they have to say. Really, this conversation should be about them and their pain of reliving this and not really so much about Trudeau. That conversation is to be left up to Canadians at the polls.”

Meanwhile, Conservative candidate Alana Delong released a statement Thursday morning, saying, “We are deeply grieved for all the people of Canada and how the world sees our prime minister right now.”

Green Party candidate Lydia Hwitsum, a former chief of Cowichan Tribes, reacted by saying, “I just want to say I am so disappointed in this demonstration by our leader. I am very disappointed in Justin Trudeau’s actions. I believe that Canada deserves a leader that sets the example for us. People of colour have faced so much discrimination and this is just not a joke and he made it seem like it was a joke.”

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