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US News Can Justin Trudeau survive the blackface scandal? Canadian political experts weigh in

09:02  24 september  2019
09:02  24 september  2019 Source:   nbcnews.com

Justin Trudeau Wore Brownface at 2001 ‘Arabian Nights’ Party While He Taught at a Private School, Canada's Liberal Party Admits

Justin Trudeau Wore Brownface at 2001 ‘Arabian Nights’ Party While He Taught at a Private School, Canada's Liberal Party Admits Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, wore brownface makeup to a party at the private school where he was teaching in the spring of 2001. TIME has obtained a photograph of the incident. The photograph has not been previously reported. The picture was taken at an “Arabian Nights”-themed gala. It shows Trudeau, then the 29-year-old son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, wearing a turban and robes with his face, neck and hands completely darkened. The photograph appears in the 2000-2001 yearbook of West Point Grey Academy, a private day school where Trudeau was a teacher.

Canadian political experts weigh in . "This scandal could lead many of his supporters to wonder if the prime minister is more talk than action," one expert said. Trudeau has apologized, telling reporters Thursday afternoon that his behavior was "unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface ."

Canadian political experts weigh in . "This scandal could lead many of his supporters to wonder if the prime minister is more talk than action," one expert said.

(Video by: Time)

The Canadian general election next month was shaping up to be a routine affair, according to some political observers. Drew Fagan, a public policy professor at the University of Toronto, compared the campaign so far to "Seinfeld" — a show about nothing.

But then, this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's re-election campaign was roiled by a scandal over a newly resurfaced photo of him in brownface at an "Arabian Nights" costume party 18 years ago, when he would have been 29, along with a video showing him in blackface makeup.

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A scandal is swirling around Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party. It could threaten the political future of the country's leader and the rule of the Liberal Party, seven months ahead of national elections.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau 's blackface photo and video scandal , which has the virtue signaling, neoliberal standard-bearer trying to explain his obsession with painting his face black With elections in Canada in less than a month, will Trudeau survive this latest scandal (in a long list of scandals )

Justin Trudeau wearing a suit and tie: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference in Iqaluit on March 8, 2019. © Sean Kilpatrick Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference in Iqaluit on March 8, 2019. Trudeau has apologized, telling reporters Thursday afternoon that his behavior was "unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface." But the charismatic 47-year-old, once donned the "North Star" of the free world by Rolling Stone, now faces potentially unprecedented scrutiny in the weeks leading up to the Oct. 21 elections, according to Canadian political analysts.

"There's no question it's damaging," said Fagan, who teaches at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, adding that the scandal could vindicate political foes who find the prime minister "holier than thou, as if he is above reproach."

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a black and white photo of a person: A 2001 photo shows that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wore blackface as part of a costume. © Obtained by TIME A 2001 photo shows that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wore blackface as part of a costume.

None of the political analysts who spoke to NBC News went so far as to predict that Trudeau was headed to defeat at the ballot box. But they said the images severely undercut his public image as a champion of racial diversity and ethnic inclusivity. It also threatens to erode his support with people of color and immigrant communities whose backing helped Trudeau score a decisive electoral victory in 2015.

"In policy, in practice, and in comportment, Trudeau is someone who fights for communities of color," said Peter Loewen, a political science professor who also teaches at the Munk School. "But this scandal could lead many of his supporters to wonder if the prime minister is more talk than action."

In recent years, Trudeau has positioned himself as a paragon of progressivism in the era of President Donald Trump and the ascent of far-right populism in Europe. He has welcomed Syrian refugees, pushed for gender parity in Cabinet positions, legalized assisted suicide and recreational cannabis use, and vowed to tackle gun violence, among other bold rebuttals to the rightward tide through much of the Western world.

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Trudeau's liberal credentials are precisely why the offensive images are so "jarring" for his Canadian supporters and admirers worldwide, said Cristine de Clercy, a professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario. But his track record, particularly as an advocate for racial equality and immigrant populations, might also be the very thing that helps him recover from the growing political furor, she added.

Trudeau, whose father, Pierre, was prime minister for 15 years, was already at risk of potential political blowback before the elections because of a separate scandal in his administration: His former attorney general has claimed that Trudeau pressured her to stop prosecuting a top engineering company in Quebec. Trudeau, for his part, insisted he was protecting Canadian jobs — but the appearance of impropriety nonetheless damaged his reputation and reportedly wounded his standing in the polls.

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North of the United States, the political scandal roiling the government does not involve accusations of collusion with Russia or payments to keep an alleged affair quiet. No one has flown first-class for personal trips on the Canadian taxpayer’s dime, and no one has been accused of anything illegal.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sought to put the blackface scandal behind him with an Mr Trudeau fielded questions about those incidents for a third day, including about how he was dealing with US President Donald Trump also weighed in on the matter, saying it left him "surprised".

He has also drawn fierce criticism for wearing what some saw as ostentatious Indian garb during an eight-day state visit to India, an appearance that some ridiculed and others labeled insensitive cultural appropriation.

Cecil Foster, a Canadian scholar who has written about the country's multicultural history, said that Trudeau's swift and seemingly genuine apology might help him retain support from his liberal and diverse base, adding that he did not believe there would be "any lasting harm to Trudeau or his election prospects."

Gallery: Justin Trudeau and other celebs who got backlash for blackface/brownface (Stars Insider)

Justin Trudeau wearing a suit and tie: A photo published in Time magazine has rocked Justin Trudeau and his re-election campaign. Taken in 2001, when he was 29 and a teacher attending a private high school party, the photo shows Canada's prime minister in a turban and brownface makeup. He has since apologized, saying,
But he nonetheless found it curious that a media-savvy, self-styled guardian of progressive values, the son of a leader who helped rally Canada around multiculturalism, would ever think to wear brownface or blackface — a practice that has a painful history in both the United States and Canada.

"We are talking about a young man who, in the eulogy to his father, talked about all the things his father taught him," Foster said. "It is surprising and it is disappointing."

Trudeau mentioned his father, who died in 2000, in his exchange with reporters Thursday, insisting that he strives to uphold the family legacy.

"My father raised me to try and defend people's rights," he said. "My father wouldn't be pleased with how I've behaved, but perhaps would feel that taking responsibility for things is important."

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Trudeau's apology for using blackface 'should be accepted', says Varadkar .
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has urged people to accept Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's apology for using blackface. Mr Trudeau has been at the centre of a storm after pictures emerged of him with dark make-up on his hands and face at a 2001 'Arabian Nights'-themed costume party.

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