HE’S BACK: Justin Trudeau Returns To Re-Election Campaign, Forging Past ‘Brownface’ Controversy

On Monday morning, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau concluded his apology tour and returned to the campaign trail with a healthcare event.

“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged on Monday to create a national prescription drug plan if re-elected,” Reuters reports.

With the event, Trudeau undoubtedly looked to move past the controversy caused when a photo of the Canadian leader wearing dark-colored makeup on his face, neck, and hands at a 2001 “Arabian Nights” party surfaced online. The incident sent his campaign into a spiral as he was forced to apologize for the controversial costume.

Within hours of the photo surfacing, a couple more photos and a video surfaced of Trudeau similarly adorning “blackface” to several events spanning years. Trudeau later admitted to not knowing whether more photos would surface as he could not definitively remember how many times he used “blackface.”

After the apologetic weekend, Trudeau looked to emerge mostly unscathed by the controversy as he picked up his campaign right where he left off. Reuters reports:

Speaking to voters in the southwestern Ontario city of Hamilton, Trudeau said he would make sure all Canadians had access to a family doctor and affordable medicine

“No one should go without the care they need because they don’t have access to a family doctor. And no one should have to give up food and heat to be able to pay for healthcare,” Trudeau said.

Canada’s universal healthcare system does not include universal coverage for prescription drugs, and primary care doctors are scarce in many areas.

This is the fourth major campaign pledge since Friday, when he vowed to ban military-style assault weapons. On Sunday he pledged to eliminate taxes on income of up to C$15,000 ($11,309), up from C$12,000 currently, and to slash cellphone bills by a quarter.

Trudeau’s quick pivot back to the campaign trail was similar to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who also was exposed for having worn either “blackface” or a KKK uniform in an Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook photo.

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Just days after the photo of Northam surfaced online, he made several large donations to Democratic candidates in his state and news media stopped reporting on the controversy.

The Washington Post reports:

Northam will probably never escape the cloud of the events in February, when a photo surfaced from his 1984 medical school yearbook page showing one person in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan robes. Northam initially took responsibility for the photo and was poised to resign over the backlash.

Then, in one rollicking day, he said he wasn’t in the photo, promised to remain in office and admitted to darkening his face to imitate Michael Jackson in a dance contest later that same year. Neither Northam nor Eastern Virginia Medical School has been able to confirm who is in the picture or how it wound up on the future governor’s yearbook page, and Northam has said he was in shock and trying to do the right thing when he apologized for it.


But with campaign season in full swing during a crucial election year, he is far from the pariah that most people expected. Instead, Northam is making big donations to a few campaigns, attending fundraisers throughout the state and rallying fellow Democrats on issues such as health care and gun control.

The Washington Post also reports, “He has vowed to serve out the remaining 2½ years of his term, devoting himself to the cause of racial equity.”

It should go without saying that if Trudeau or Northam were Republicans, their respective incidents would likely be career-ending.