Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces the voters on October 21 but has not been much in the news of late. That changed this week with a photograph of Trudeau, age 29, at an “Arabian Nights” gala wearing a turban, with his face, hands and feet painted brown.
This took place back in 2001 at Vancouver’s prestigious West Point Grey Academy, where Trudeau taught. As Melanie Green of The Star notes, citing the school’s newsletter, “As the ballroom doors opened, two belly dancers emerged, dancing around the marketplace auction and escorting people into the lavishly decorated ballroom — rich fabrics, glittering trinkets on the table.”
Revelation of the photo proved an unwelcome surprise for Trudeau, who told reporters, “I dressed up in Aladdin costume and put makeup on. I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better, but I didn’t. And I’m really sorry.” At the time, Trudeau didn’t consider it a racist action, but “this is something unacceptable and it is racist.” Asked about previous episodes, Trudeau explained, “When I was in high school, I dressed up at a talent show and sang ‘Day-O’ with makeup on,” a reference to the “Banana Boat Song,” a hit for Harry Belafonte in 1956.
No photos, video or audio of the event emerged, and Trudeau never referred to “blackface,” only to “makeup.” Reports speculated that the photos could become an election issue, but Trudeau said “if it leads other people to have reflections, that’s a good thing.”
Justin Trudeau also made news in 2017 when he signed off on an award of $10.5 million for Omar Khadr, a Canadian-born al-Qaeda militant who killed American soldier, Sgt. Christopher Speer, in a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister also grabbed some coverage the year before, after the death of Fidel Castro, the Sado-Stalinist head of an all-white Communist dictatorship.
Castro persecuted homosexuals and his regime held large numbers of black political prisoners. Even so, Justin Trudeau called him a “remarkable leader,” who “made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.” The Canadian Prime minister was evidently unaware that, as Paul Hollander showed in Political Pilgrims, many on the left had been denouncing Castro since the late 1960s.
At that time Justin’s father Pierre Trudeau was a politician on the rise. Pierre Trudeau was not known to appear in blackface, but he did play a role as a “zombie.” That is the term Canadian World War II veterans apply to those who avoided participation in that conflict. Beyond that, Justin’s father could stand more unmasking.
“Pierre Trudeau opted not to serve in World War II, although of age and in good health,” David Frum recalled in 2011. Pierre Trudeau “traveled to Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union to participate in regime-sponsored propaganda activities. He wrote in praise of Mao’s murderous regime in China. Trudeau lavishly admired Fidel Castro, Julius Nyere, and other Third World dictators.” Trudeau also praised the Soviets’ Siberian city of Norilsk “unware or unconcerned that Norilsk had been built by slave labor.”
Prime Minister Trudeau, “to the extent he could tried to reorient Canada away from the great democratic alliance.” As Frum also notes, hours after the Communist Coup against Solidarity in Poland, Pierre Trudeau said: “If martial law is a way to avoid civil war and Soviet intervention, then I cannot say it is all bad,” adding, “Hopefully the military regime will be able to keep Solidarity from excessive demands.”
Pierre Trudeau inherited a strong and growing economy but as Frum charges, “the two recessions 1981-82 and 1992-93 can both fairly be laid at Trudeau’s door.” He was also a “spending fool” who “believed in a state-led economy,” and “as a political wrecker, he was truly world class.” Frum’s piece came headlined, “The Disastrous Legacy of Pierre Trudeau,” and son Justin is now part of that legacy.
The economically inept Trudeau admires communist dictators and soft-pedals terrorism. As the world now knows, he was fond of appearing in blackface, like Virginia governor Ralph Northam, who didn’t pass it off as “makeup.”
Meanwhile, reporters also discovered a photo of Trudeau with Sikh men, decked out in a manner similar to his Arabian Nights costume. In this picture, Trudeau somewhat resembles the New Democratic Party’s Jagmeet Singh, one of his election opponents in October.
Singh told the Globe and Mail he is concerned that the blackface photos are an “ongoing pattern of behavior” for Mr. Trudeau and “raise questions about who the real Mr. Trudeau really is.” Mustafa Farooq of the National Council of Canadian Muslims told the newspaper that wearing brownface was a “reprehensible” act that “hearkens back to a history of racism, slavery, and an Orientalist mythology that is unacceptable.”
Whether Trudeau’s blackface act is unacceptable to Canadian voters remains uncertain. According to a September 18 report by Amanda Connolly of Global News, the Liberal Party’s Justin Trudeau has “leapt ahead” of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.” A recent Ipsos poll showed that “37 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they think Trudeau is best suited for the role of prime minister.”