'I think it's reprehensible,' Dal prof says of Trudeau wearing brownface
Published Thursday, September 19, 2019 9:30PM ADT
Last Updated Thursday, September 19, 2019 9:39PM ADT
Dalhousie University professor Dr. Isaac Saney says he was perturbed when he saw Justin Trudeau's face painted in racist makeup.
"I think it's reprehensible," said Saney, a Black Studies professor and Transition Year Program Director at Dalhousie University . "That kind of behavior is not acceptable and, in fact, it only encourages the perpetuation, not only of racial stereotypes of people of African descent and people of colour, but also contributes to further marginalization."
Time Magazine published a photo of the Liberal leader in "brownface" at an event in 2001.
Since then, two more instances of him in racist makeup have appeared.
Trudeau admits he was dressed as Aladdin at the themed party in 2001 and he apologized Wednesday.
"I should have known better, but I didn't and I'm really sorry," Trudeau said. "I didn't consider it a racist action at the time but now we know better. It was something unacceptable and yes, racist."
With an election looming, Maritimers are left with a mixed feelings on Trudeau's past actions.
"I saw it on the bus and I thought it was pretty stupid of him," said one Haligonian.
Dalhousie sociology professor Howard Ramos says it's too soon to tell if the racist images will have a lasting impact on the election.
Ramos says poll results in a few days time should reflect any impact on voters.
"What makes this particularly interesting is that it contradicts a lot of the messaging that Trudeau has been putting out in terms of sunny ways, openness to diversity, and this is what makes this much more stinging," Ramos said.
Dwayne Green, the owner of a Jamaican restaurant, says he's not bothered by Trudeau's racist makeup.
Green says he's focused on the present and the way a leader runs his country -- not photos from the past.
"I'm pretty sure he had no inclination of becoming the prime minister then, so it's not, 'Oh, I'm a public figure, I got to be super careful,' he was a young individual expressing himself."
The story is producing a great deal of response in the halls of power and on the streets.
Nova Scotia's premier and the minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs were among political leaders offering opinions on Trudeau's actions.
"I believe Mr. Trudeau is genuinely, honestly sorry for what he's done," said African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Tony Ince. "I'd like to move forward, because, as I've said, we have a lot of work to do dealing with so many other things. Those types of incidents don't help, but they also give us an opportunity to have that conversation -- that uncomfortable conversation that we need to have."
Stephen McNeil said he noticed "sincerity" in Trudeau's comments.
"He asked for forgiveness from the Canadian population and Canadians will decide," McNeil said.
As voters continue to discuss and debate the issue, Canadians will have their official say when they head to the polls in 32 days.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Suzette Belliveau.