Three pictures of Justin Trudeau surfaced in mid-September of him wearing dark face paint and posing for pictures with four other women. One of these photos was taken in 2001 at an Arabian Nights party. The other two photos were taken when the young man was in high school and featured in his yearbook. One of which was taken while he was singing a popular song by Harry Belafonte called “Day-O” and the other taken at an unidentified event, but it was confirmed to be him.
Many Canadians were outraged when they saw it, but Trudeau was quick to apologize. Max Cameron, a teacher at UBC teaching political science said he believed Trudeau’s apology speech showed that he was genuine and that he was sorry about what he had done. In Trudeau’s apology, he said that he was ‘pissed off’ at himself and admitted that he should’ve known better, but he didn’t at the time. This apology shows a level of responsibility. He also continues to explain that he knows these are now considered racist and says that he will continue his path of promoting Canada’s diversity.
These pictures were taken in 2001 when Trudeau was a young teacher. In these pictures, the man was at a party or performing a song at his high school talent show. These are normal things a young man might do. Though it is now offensive, it wasn’t seen that way as much in 2001. Perceptions were different when it came to things such as blackface or dressing up as another culture. He backs these thoughts by saying, “I thought that because I wasn’t a racist, I could do this, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing, and I didn’t understand back then — and I’m fully upfront about it — that it actually really hurt people.” This proves that being Trudeau’s actions had no malicious or racist intent.
Since his start as Prime Minister in 2015, Justin Trudeau has shown his commitment to diversity through the many initiatives he has made and followed through with. He has invested $500 million dollars in First Nations’ schooling so that young Aboriginals have access to education. Trudeau’s cabinet was the first cabinet in Canada to be equally men and women. This is a large stride in the history of politics for women. Trudeau has also provided $100 million toward the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and he has also welcomed in 28,100 refugees into Canada in 2018 alone.
Andrew Sheer, the leader of the Conservative Party, on the other hand, was seen denouncing same-sex marriage in 2005 and continues to say that he won’t walk in a Pride Parade because he feels he shows support through attending other LGBTQ+ events and calling on the government to do more about their rights. When asked to comment on the video of him criticizing same-sex marriage in 2005 where he compares same-sex marriage to ‘calling a dog tail the fifth leg’, He struggled to come up with an example of how he has changed his views. This proves to many in his audience that he doesn’t support LGBTQ+ people. These views are much more serious than a young man dressing up in 2001.
Trudeau should be forgiven for what he has done, if not because his apology showed responsibility to his actions but because it wasn’t done with the intent to hurt people. His actions in leading Canada have shown that he has grown from a young man who thought this was funny to a grown man who knows how to take responsibility and learn from his actions.