Photos of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s not one, not two, but three instances of blackface recently came to light and Canadians are experiencing a wide range of reactions from disgust to shock – but perhaps such reactions aren’t justifiable.
Performative ally ship is a skill honed by many liberal and liberal-adjacent politicians, but Trudeau is probably the most famous for it – or at least he should be.
From breaching ethics rules in the SNC-Lavalin case and kicking Jody Wilson-Raybould out of her position as Attorney General to violating the Conflict of Interest Act by accepting a ride on the Aga Khan’s helicopter as well as a vacation to the Bahamas for himself and his family, to allegedly groping a female reporter at a music festival, Prime Minister Trudeau’s ongoing list of scandals is endless. But why are we now choosing to be surprised by his antics?
This is not to say that those offended or otherwise negatively affected by Trudeau’s actions don’t have the right to feel how they do.
What’s being said here is simply that Trudeau didn’t exactly have a great track record to begin with, and these photos being released weeks before the federal election is likely not a coincidence.
The public’s initial reaction of shock makes sense, but we need to acknowledge Trudeau’s previous infractions and recognize a pattern rather than put him on a pedestal and act as though these incidences of blackface are wildly out of character.
Politicians are people who are capable of making mistakes and sometimes those mistakes are extremely harmful and offensive.
Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and feelings about the incident, especially Canadians who experience racialized discrimination, but people should take a second to think before acting as though Trudeau is the first politician to do something racist – or that it’s the first bad thing he’s done during his time in office.
Hopefully, Canadians take his actions into account when going to the polls on Oct. 21.