What could very well be the defining political scandal of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s political career has just been broken wide open by Time Magazine.
Echoing a scandal that befell Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam earlier this year, a photo depicting Trudeau in ‘brownface’ (he was reportedly dressed as an Arab for an ‘Arabian Nights’ theme party) was published by Time Magazine Wednesday evening.
The photo was taken in 2001 while Trudeau was teaching at an elite private school.
Time magazine has just dropped a bombshell report on @JustinTrudeau
We are with the campaign now. We are told Trudeau will address this before his plane takes off.
Photo Shows Justin Trudeau in Brownface at ‘Arabian Nights’ Party | Time https://t.co/LzDSPaGEiN
— David Cochrane (@CochraneCBC) September 18, 2019
The Liberal Party has already confirmed that Trudeau is in the photo, and the PM has already issued an apology – “I am really sorry” – to those who might be offended by the image, WSJ reports. Zita Astravas, spokeswoman for Trudeau’s Liberal Party, confirmed it to Time.
This couldn’t have come at a worse time for Trudeau: His Liberal Party is neck-and-neck in the polls with their Conservative rivals ahead of what’s expected to be a close federal election next month.
According to Time, the photo appeared in the 2000-2001 yearbook of West Point Grey Academy. The ‘Arabian Nights’-themed gala was attended by students and faculty, Time reported. A Canadian businessman who was ‘part of the WPGA community’ came across the photo over the summer and decided that it should be made public.
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.
Earlier this month, TIME obtained a copy of the yearbook, The View, with the photograph of Trudeau in brownface from Vancouver businessman Michael Adamson, who was part of the West Point Grey Academy community. Adamson was not at the party, which was attended by school faculty, administrators and parents of students. He said that he first saw the photograph in July and felt it should be made public.
The photo was taken while Trudeau taught classes, including French, at the school, which he left after the Spring of 2001. West Point Grey Academy is currently among the most expensive private day schools in Vancouver, with tuition ranging from just under $22,000 to about $23,500.
Several critics spoke out to WSJ saying it’s ‘deeply saddening’ to see Trudeau in brownface/blackface. One of Trudeau’s opponents is a Sikh, and as such blasted Trudeau and claimed personal offense.
“Seeing the Prime Minister in brownface/blackface is deeply saddening,” said Mustafa Farooq, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims in a written statement. It is seeking an apology. “The wearing of blackface/brownface is reprehensible, and hearkens back to a history of racism, slavery, and an Orientalist mythology that is unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, the leader of Canada’s left-wing New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh, said the photo was insulting. Mr. Singh is a Sikh and wears a turban.
Of course, already one Twitter user and Trudeau critic has complained about being ‘censored’ by Twitter for trying to share the photo, which violates the site’s terms of service.
Tfw you tweet pictures of Justin Trudeau in brownface and the Libs at Twitter deploy countermeasures pic.twitter.com/cxfK973YpI
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) September 18, 2019
Other Canadians mused about Trudeau’s re-election prospects with this additional scandal weighing on his campaign. Trudeau is still fighting allegations of corruption after the SNC-Lavalin ethics probe.
knew it was a matter of time before something came out about trudeau but i’m ngl i had my money on sex pest
— Brandy Jensen (@BrandyLJensen) September 18, 2019
This could very well be the moment that Trudeau loses his place in the polls and never regains the lead ahead of next months’ vote.