A third incident in which Justin Trudeau wore blackface has been reported, in yet another damaging blow to the Canadian prime minister’s carefully curated image, just weeks ahead of the country’s general election.
In a short, undated video clip published by Global News on Thursday, Trudeau is seen in blackface, waving. His arms and legs also appear to be painted.
Global News says it received the material earlier this week, but held off on publishing the material until journalists could determine its authenticity. On Thursday, a member of the Liberal campaign confirmed the video.
The emergence of yet another incident in which Trudeau wore blackface follows a tumultuous 12 hours for the prime minister, after Time magazine published an image of Trudeau dressed as Aladdin – complete with dark skin makeup and a turban – at a private school function in 2001, when he was a 29-year old teacher.
“I apologise profoundly,” said Trudeau on Wednesday night after the photograph was published. “I regret it deeply. I’m deeply sorry I did that, I should have known better.”
“It was something I should not have done. I didn’t think it was racist at the time, but now I see, it was a racist thing to do.”
After issuing the apology, Trudeau also acknowledged an incident from high school in which he appeared in blackface as part of a talent show.
Political leaders across the spectrum reacted swiftly.
Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic party, called the first image “jarring” and called into question the prime minister’s commitment to diversity.
Andrew Scheer, the Conservative leader and Trudeau’s main opponent, said he was “extremely shocked and disappointed” at the actions of the prime minister, calling his rival “unfit” to lead Canada. “It was racist in 2001, it’s racist now.”
But the Conservative leader has also faced criticism for failing to eject his own party members for racist or homophobic statements this week. He told reporters he would stand by candidates who showed genuine remorse for previous actions.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May said she was “deeply shocked by the racism shown in this photograph of Justin Trudeau.”
The flurry of images comes at a time in which the prime minister is fighting for his second parliamentary majority, with an election set for 21 October. Incumbent Trudeau is effectively locked in a dead heat with rival Conservatives, but his Liberal party holds an edge when it comes to winning seats in parliament.
Major party leaders – and the prime minister – are expected to take questions from the media later today to further address the images.