Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Apologizes for Wearing Brownface at 2001 Party

By Paul Vieira | Wall Street Journal |

I should have known better, but I didn’t,’ Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his apology. Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/Associated Press

OTTAWA—Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized Wednesday after the publication of a photo from nearly two decades ago in which he appeared at a costume party wearing brownface, saying he is disappointed in himself.

The photo was taken in 2001, while he was teaching in Vancouver, at his school’s annual dinner, which had a costume theme of “Arabian Nights.” He said he attended with friends and colleagues dressed as a character from “Aladdin,” with makeup on. He was 29 years old at the time.

“I should have known better, but I didn’t,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters on an airplane that was transporting the Canadian leader and media during the fall election campaign. “I am really sorry…I am disappointed and pissed off.”

The photo marks a blow for Mr. Trudeau at the early stages of a campaign ahead of Oct. 21 elections, as polls show his Liberal Party in a dead heat with the Conservative Party.

Mr. Trudeau has positioned himself as a global champion of an inclusive, diverse society. Through the years, he has castigated political rivals who have challenged his government’s moves to boost immigration. One of his most common refrains in his nearly four-year term is that diversity is Canada’s strength.

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