Trudeau's Latest Trial

When the photos surfaced of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in black and brownface, the international community was outraged and devastated. These photos, taken as recently as 2001, crushed Trudeau’s image as the “Progressive Prince” for many individuals who looked to Trudeau as a beacon of hope in an ever polarizing and despairing world.

However, if you are a Canadian, this “scandal” is just another incident in a series of disappointments with Trudeau’s tenure as Prime Minister. Trudeau was already on thin ice with many Canadians going into the October 21 elections for Prime Minister. Trudeau’s Liberal Party has been criticized for failing to follow through on promises made during the 2015 elections, especially on issues surrounding energy, climate change, and immigration. The Trudeau administration has also come under scrutiny for making deals that favor oil industries and big businesses, as seen in the SNC-Lavalin scandal last year. Additionally, many Canadians are frustrated with the Trudeau campaign’s tactics of bashing the opposition Conservative Party’s platform without outlining clear plans of any sort for their own policies. 

This is also not the first time Trudeau or his administration has run into issues surrounding race and racism. In February 2018, Trudeau received a great deal of heat for his choice of dress when traveling to India on an official visit. Trudeau’s donning of traditional Indian attire came across to many as appropriation and mocking rather than a respectful homage to the culture he was visiting. He has also been criticized by indigenous rights groups for his purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which in essence fails to consider indigenous populations in Canada when Trudeau had previously committed to prioritizing reconciliation efforts. And while Trudeau was celebrated as a pro-immigrant feminist in the 2015 elections, his choice of Bill Blair as Minister of Border Security, who has taken steps to make achieving asylum more difficult, has raised flags as to the legitimacy of that stance. 

Although polls indicate that the issue of Trudeau in black and brownface has not caused many Canadians to adopt a negative view of Trudeau, that is in part because many Canadians are already fed up with Trudeau. People will continue to debate the implications of Trudeau’s photos and the merit of his apologies, but for most Canadians, Trudeau will have more than just his blackface and potential closet racism to answer for on election day.

While Trudeau’s latest scandal is sensational and warrants debate, it is important that Americans and the rest of the international audience to also look at all of the actions of the Trudeau administration. Trudeau was the darling of the progressive movement and at first glance that position seemed duly earned. But looking deeper into Trudeau’s track record, we find that there is a greater debate to be had. This debate is becoming more and more necessary for Trudeau and all of our world leaders in the face of some of our greatest global challenges.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Photos: 1, 23