Trump’s surprise at blackface photos sums up world’s view of Trudeau

Other countries are used to seeing Trudeau as champion of inclusivity and diversity

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks with people in a cafe as he mainstreets in downtown Winnipeg on Thursday, Sept.19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks with people in a cafe as he mainstreets in downtown Winnipeg on Thursday, Sept.19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Justin Trudeau pushed aside Friday global mockery of his decisions years ago to dress in blackface, saying he’s focused on apologizing to Canadians.

But images of the three times he chose to put on black- or brownface for costume events continued to flash around the world, reaching even the White House.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s reaction summed up how the incidents have surprised people accustomed to seeing Trudeau as a champion of inclusivity and diversity, raising questions about whether that brand is forever tarnished.

“I was hoping I wouldn’t be asked that question. … Justin. I’m surprised and I was more surprised when I saw the number of times and I’ve always had a good relationship with Justin. I just don’t know what to tell you. I was surprised by it, actually,” Trump said.

Trudeau apologized profusely for the third day in a row for the incidents — one from his teens, one from his time as a whitewater rafting guide in his 20s, and one when he was a teacher at a Vancouver private school. He said they were mistakes, and he did not understand at the time how racist it is to wear black- or brownface.

Former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, a Liberal, said she’s worried that the apology will fall on deaf ears around the world.

“People in other countries don’t have the benefit or the access or the interest in, quite frankly, the day-to-day machinations of Canadian politics so they don’t know him as well as we do,” she said.

“So they kind of had him on this pedestal, which was unrealistic and ridiculous, and now he’s fallen off that pedestal and so there’s almost even more of an oversimplification on the international stage: He was perfect and now he’s the devil.”

Since the first photo emerged Wednesday night, Trudeau has been calling members of his cabinet, candidates and community leaders to try to make amends. In turn, all day Thursday, many of them were speaking out publicly, if a tad cautiously, in support of their leader.

READ MORE: Trudeau seeks meeting with Singh to apologize for blackface, brownface photos

On Friday, the day after Trudeau was the butt of late-night TV jokes in the U.S. and shocked headlines around the world, Chrystia Freeland took a turn.

As Trudeau’s foreign affairs minister, she has had the ears of many influential leaders and their aides around the globe.

Freeland said she was troubled and disappointed by the images, calling racism and intolerance unacceptable. But she said she accepts his apology and commitment to do better.

“The prime minister continues to have my full and unwavering support,” she said in the statement posted to Twitter.

The incidents made the front pages of news websites around the globe.

Trudeau attracted scorn as well from prominent civil-rights advocates in the U.S., a country that has grappled with its own cases of prominent politicians having been found to have, or admitting to have, worn blackface.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes delivers the inaugural address at council’s swearing-in ceremony in November 2018. The ceremony included blessings from representatives of two Christian churches. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes delivers the inaugural address at council’s swearing-in ceremony in November, 2018. The ceremony included blessings from representatives of two Christian churches – a fact highlighted in a report released by the BC Humanist Associaton on Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Christian-based prayer at inaugural Vancouver Island council meetings violates court ruling

Blessings violate Supreme Court decision that prayer in council is discriminatory

Karl Ablack, chair of the Port Renfrew Recovery Task Force, says visitors should steer clear of the community after the second wave of COVID has begun to hit across the province. (Black Press Media file photo)
Port Renfrew, Pacheedaht First Nation asks visitors to steer clear of community again

Tight-knit community of 400 has yet to report single case of COVID

The BCCDC has added WestJet flight 3349 on Nov. 23 to its flight exposure list. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)
New COVID-19 exposure on WestJet flight from Edmonton to Victoria

The BCCDC has added WestJet flight 3349 on Nov. 23 to its flight exposure list

Goldstream Food Bank vice-president Walter Dubeau is happy to help others by volunteering at the food bank’s Christmas hamper program. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
Goldstream Food Bank Christmas Hamper program in full swing

Gratitude evident as hamper helpers happily give back

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Pfizer announced Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, more results in its ongoing coronavirus vaccine study that suggest the shots are 95% effective a month after the first dose. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)
VIDEO: B.C. planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the first weeks of 2021

The question of who will get the vaccine first relies on Canada’s ethical framework

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Most Read