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Canada's Trudeau apologizes for racist photos but does not rule out possibility that there are more

Key Points
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized on Thursday after it emerged that he had worn racist makeup on at least three occasions decades ago, but he declined to rule out the possibility that more images could emerge.
  • "I am wary of being definitive about this, because the recent pictures that came out I had not remembered," Trudeau said.
  • Trudeau was attempting to head off the scandal that threatens to hurt him and his Liberal Party's chances in the upcoming Canadian elections, scheduled for late October.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the media in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.
Sean Kilpatrick | The Canadian Press | AP

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized on Thursday after it emerged that he had worn racist makeup on at least three occasions decades ago. But he declined to rule out the possibility that more images could emerge.

"I am wary of being definitive about this, because the recent pictures that came out I had not remembered," Trudeau said.

Trudeau was speaking in the Canadian city of Winnipeg in an attempt to head off the scandal that threatens to hurt him and his Liberal Party's chances in the upcoming Canadian elections, scheduled for late October.

The controversy emerged after Time Magazine published a photo on Wednesday evening of Trudeau wearing brown makeup to an "Arabian Nights" themed party at a private school in 2001. At the time, Trudeau, the son of a former Canadian prime minister, was 29 years old and a teacher.

Trudeau apologized shortly after the photo was made public and said he now believes the photograph is racist, though he said he did not believe it was racist at the time.

Following the publication of Time's story, Trudeau revealed that he had also worn blackface once in high school during a performance of "Day-O," the Jamaican folk song popularized by American singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte.

Justin Trudeau appears in dark makeup at a 2001 Arabian Nights - themed party at the West Point Grey Academy, the private school where he taught.
Source: TIME

But on Thursday morning, a new video surfaced showing a third instance in which Trudeau was wearing makeup to darken his skin tone.

That video, obtained by Global News and shot at some point in the early 1990s, appears to show Trudeau covered in dark makeup, wearing an Afro wig, and laughing.

Trudeau said on Thursday that the night before he had shared "the moments that I recollected," which did not include the latest video. He said that his inability to remember the event that was caught on video was the product of his wealthy upbringing.

"I think the question is: How can you not remember that?" Trudeau said. "The fact is, I didn't understand how hurtful this is to people who live with discrimination every single day. I have always said that I come from a place of privilege, but I now need to acknowledge that that comes with a massive blind spot."

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