Justin Trudeau Has Never Been The Progressive Darling You Thought He Was

Thursday - 19/09/2019 19:18
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau // Sebastien St-Jean / AFP / Getty Images
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau // Sebastien St-Jean / AFP / Getty Images
Do you need more direct proof that Canada was, just like the US, deeply flawed? Behold Justin Trudeau’s multiple instances of blackface and Canada’s miserable election cycle!

My editor, loath though I am to hear it, routinely tells me that typing I TOLD YOU SO is not a great way to start an article.

But how else do you expect me to jump into a conversation about Justin Trudeau? Our Nice Guy, cutie-patootie, gelled-hair, blue-eyes-like-the-deepest-ocean prime minister, who plenty of Canadians (me, I am talking about me) told you was actually far from the progressive sweetheart he presents himself to be. (Even BuzzFeed was not immune.) Our time to gloat has finally come. He’s been revealing in the past, but most people chose to ignore it: like when he sniped at an Indigenous activist asking him for clean water or when he was accused of applying political pressure on the attorney general (the first Indigenous justice minister ever) to defer prosecution against a major engineering and construction firm based out of Quebec and, look, we’re both bored now, so let’s get to the blackface.

Did we expect the latest news coming out of Canada to be that Trudeau is embroiled in some racist scandal? Not specifically — and this is about as mundane as racist acts go — but clearly only because he lacks imagination. The real question isn’t “How did this even happen?” but rather “How did it take so long for someone to dig this up?”

Yesterday afternoon, Time published a photo from a 2000–2001 private high school yearbook showing Trudeau, who was then a 29-year-old English teacher at this school, wearing brownface for an “Arabian Nights”–themed party, replete with a turban and Genie-esque cinched robes. Hours later, a photo of him in blackface from his own high school yearbook went public too. Then, my god, another photo showing him at that same “Arabian Nights” party in brownface flanked by two Sikh men also appeared online. Then, a video of him in blackface was published by the Global News. In one evening, Trudeau went from Our Prime Minister Who Has Never Worn Blackface to Our Prime Minister Who Has Worn It More Than Once. I mean, who has the time?

Is this all made worse by the fact that Trudeau wasn’t just some random teen messing around, but rather the son of one of the country’s most popular and beloved prime ministers, and therefore he should have known he would forever be under an unprecedented level of scrutiny? It does! It absolutely does. His past actions are so hypocritical when compared to his current public persona, and it is infuriating. His 2018 family trip to India, where he sported what looked like elaborate bridal clothing, was cringeworthy then — but watching him piously press his hands together in prayer appears even more jarring now.

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