Liberal candidates of colour respond to Trudeau's blackface photos

Sep 20 2019, 7:34 am

Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau is receiving public support from some of the party’s candidates of colour after multiple images of the prime minister in brown and blackface were recently made public.

On Wednesday, TIME Magazine published a 2001 photo of Trudeau wearing brownface at an Arabian Nights-themed gala at West Point Grey Secondary in Vancouver, where he was a teacher at the time.

Trudeau later admitted that he also wore blackface at a high school talent show.

Another video was then released by Global News showing Trudeau in blackface in a separate incident that the Liberal Party said was from the early 1990s.

Trudeau publically apologized twice for his actions and said he reached out personally to Liberal candidates of colour to explain his poor decisions.

Here’s what some of those candidates had to say about Trudeau’s actions and his apology on Twitter.

Liberal Party candidate for Vancouver South and Minister of National Defense, Harjit Sajjan, acknowledged that many Canadians were “disappointed” by the images, adding that the photos of Trudeau “do not represent the person he is now.”

“I know Justin and the entire party will continue to build a more equal Canada.”

“As I have gotten to know Justin, I know these photos do not represent the person he is now and I know how much he regrets it,” said Sajjan.

Sukh Dhaliwal, Liberal candidate for Surrey-Newton, said he “wholeheartedly” accepts Trudeau’s apology.

“I have worked alongside Justin Trudeau for many years now. I know in my heart he is a champion for all of us,” he said.

Salma Zahid, candidate for Scarborough Centre, said she stands “with the Prime Minister as we all try to do better and build a better Canada for all of our children.”

“I have known the Prime Minister for five years. He is deeply committed to building a more diverse Canada, one where all Canadians feel accepted and valued. That shows not just in the values he champions, but in the actions he has taken.”

Randeep Sarai, Liberal candidate for Surrey Centre, said he was “saddened” to see the pictures of Trudeau, adding that it was “difficult” for him to understand.

“The person in those photos from 20 years ago isn’t the person I’ve worked with in the last four years.”

Sarai added that Trudeau has an “impeccable record on promoting diversity, calling out intolerance, and breaking down the barriers in this country for people who look like [him].”

Calling the images “indefensible,” Amerjeet Sohi, Liberal candidate running in Edmonton Mill Woods, said the photos brought back “many painful memories of racism that [he] and other racialized Canadians have experienced throughout [their] lives.”

Sohi went on to say that “the Justin Trudeau that [he has] come to know over the last four years is a champion of diversity and inclusion and a strong ally for racialized communities.”

“From defending the rights of the LGBTQ community, to speaking up against Islamophobia, to increasing funding for anti-racism work, he has demonstrated this through his actions.”

Liberal candidate for Peterborough-Kawartha, Maryam Monsef, said she understands the photos are “opening up fresh wounds for people who have experienced anti-black and other forms of racism every day,” adding that it is also reminding racialized Canadians of their “own personal experiences with discrimination and exclusion.”

“I’ve felt that hurt,” she said.

Monsef went on to say the Prime Minister reached out to her directly to apologize.

“Over the past four years, I have had the opportunity to work closely with Justin Trudeau. I’ve seen him work tirelessly, behind closed doors and the public eye to move our country forward. I have seen a man who has always demonstrated, through his words and his actions, a sincere commitment to building a strong, better, more inclusive Canada.”

“For these reasons, I have accepted his apology.”

Kamal Khera, the Liberal candidate for Brampton West, found the images of the Prime Minister to be”deeply disturbing” but said “a true test of a person’s leadership often comes at times of great adversity.”

“He accepted full responsibility and apologized without reservation,” said Khera. “I accept the Prime Minister’s apology, and acknowledge an opportunity for us all to do better.”