Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

Justin Trudeau brownface scandal deepens as other images emerge

The pictures emerged in the middle of the prime minister’s election campaign, one month before Canadians go to the polls

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wore skin-darkening makeup and a turban to a costume party in 2001, according to a photograph obtained by Time Magazine.

According to the Time report Mr Trudeau wore “brownface” to an “Arabian Nights” party he attended at the West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver. Mr Trudeau confirmed the incident in an apology delivered in front of the media on Thursday.

During his apology, he also admitted to performing "Day O", a traditional Jamaican song made famous by Harry Belafonte, in brownface during a high school talent show years earlier. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp then published a picture from that performance that was confirmed as authentic by a spokeswoman.

Also, Global News put out a video showing Trudeau again in dark make-up making faces and sticking his tongue out. It was not immediately clear exactly when that video was from.

The initial photograph to spark the scandal, posted to the US-based publication’s Twitter feed, is said to be from the yearbook of the private school in British Columbia where Trudeau worked as a teacher before entering politics.

Mr Trudeau is seen wearing a turban and robe, with dark makeup on his hands, face and neck.

Responding to the release of the image, Mr Trudeau said he would continue to fight intolerance and discrimination despite having made a mistake in the past.

The prime minister apologised on numerous occasions when challenged over the image by reporters.

"I shouldn't have done it. I should have known better, but I didn't," he said.

Liberal Party spokesman Cameron Ahmad confirmed the photo is of Mr Trudeau.

He said it was taken at the school's annual dinner which had an "Arabian Nights" theme that year.

Mr Trudeau, he said, was dressed as a character from "Aladdin."

The photograph emerged one month before Canadians go to the polls in a general election on October 21.

Mr Trudeau has previously won popular support in Canada for his support of minority groups but is fighting for re-election.

The Canadian prime minister has been heavily criticised on social media over the photograph, with many users calling him “racist” for donning the makeup and costume.

Canadian Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, said Mr Trudeau is unfit to govern the country after a 2001 picture emerged showing him dressed in brown face.

"I was extremely shocked and disappointed when I learned of Justin Trudeau's actions this evening," Mr Scheer told reporters in comments broadcast live from an airport in Quebec .

"Wearing brown face is an act of open mockery and racism. What Canadians saw this evening is someone with a complete lack of judgement and integrity and someone who's not fit to govern this country."

Updated: September 19, 2019 07:58 PM

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