Blackface scandal & the impact of Trudeau’s many blunders

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Editorial – The trust and goodwill that attended Trudeau’s election four years ago being the first of the son of a previous prime minister have been shattered by his many blunders. One of the notable blunders that has gone into the annals of Canadian history is his ill-advised trip to India that portrayed Canada and the prime minister in bad light. That a world leader with so much responsibilities at home would not only travel with a convicted terrorist, but would waste taxpayer’s money wearing native Indian garbs and basking in the nuances of his hosts well more than the hosts themselves, was troubling to say the least. This could be equated with the saying “crying more than the bereaved.” On this bungled trip, Trudeau and his family tried hard to be more Indian than the Indians making them the laughing stock of an entire country of 1.3 billion people. It should be noted that Trudeau was received in India not by his counterpart, Prime Minister Narenda Modi, but by a lowly minister. 

This fact is significant because it underscored the level of importance with which the Indian government regarded Trudeau and his entourage. Sending a lowly minister was clearly not in line with diplomatic protocol and certainly a snub by the India government of the leader of a G7 country and one of the bastions of stability and economic progress in the world. As though this was not enough, a few days later after Trudeau’s charade of a tour had ended, Modi was at the airport to receive the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, MBS suggesting that the Crown Prince was worth his time and worthy of such reception. The young Saudi dictator was accorded a reception befitting of a visiting head of state. That Trudeau was in India for several days gallivanting the country to the dismay of his host who must have wondered if He had no job, did not do much to demonstrate his seriousness as a leader. Compounding this point is the reality that Prime Minister Modi only met with Trudeau in the twilight of his visit more out of sympathy, a photo opportunity for the optics than necessity. 

At home, Trudeau has been embroiled by in his involvement in the SNC- Lavalin corruption scandal where he was accused of pressuring then Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould to soft pedal on the prosecution of the engineering giant. The minister told a House Justice committee that she was pressured to work with the director of prosecution to offer the company said to be a strong Liberal Party financial a deferred prosecution agreement. The fallout from Trudeau’s involvement has gone a long way to change perspective of his advocacy on women’ s issues given his treatment of the indigenous female minister and the subsequent resignation of another female minister, Jane Philpott, in solidarity with her colleague. 

The vast majority of Canadians believe that Trudeau was not truthful in his statement about his involvement in the scandal and that the removal of the Wilson-Raybould from the powerful justice ministry was due to her refusal to follow his directives on this issue.  The SNC-Lavalin scandal reveals a politician willing to set aside the most basic tenets of ethics in favour of a giant corporation to protect his image and preserve his political fortunes. SNC-Lavalin is headquartered in Montreal, Trudeau’s home province and heaven forbid that the company goes down in the corruption scandal when one of Quebec sons is at the helm of political affairs in the country. With the federal elections just three weeks away, the SNC-Lavalin scandal and the incredulity of Canadians will be palpable at the polls.

The black/brown face images appear to be the icing on the cake on the matter of Trudeau’s character and his trustworthiness. It is not that Trudeau was caught wearing racialize faces almost two decades ago. While this is wrong with racist undertone, it is easily forgivable given the passage of time and Trudeau impetuous disposition as a young man. His engagement in this behaviour only indicates that he is human and prone to mistakes. What is concerning however, is the fact that Trudeau did not volunteer his youthful indiscretion when much of the focus was on Virginia governor, Raphl Northam, who was caught in blackface in his medical school yearbook. Many called for his resignation claiming he is unable to represent all Virginians.

This was a time for Trudeau to volunteer his own relationship with black and brown faces, thus be preemptive of his involvement and nullify an election time revelation of his indiscretion. The circumstances are similar to jug Trudeau’s memory of his own involvement with black/brown faces. Both were found in yearbooks of academic institutions. Trudeau cannot feign ignorance of the political tsunami that enveloped the Virginia governor not to have been spurred to reveal his own involvement in black/brown face mark-up. This is the courage of leadership where leaders make tough decisions that are sometimes inimical to their political career, but made in the interest of truth and transparency. But he decided to keep it away from Canadians hoping it would not be exposed. This makes his apology insincere to many Canadians as it is induced and not given willingly. Had the video and pictures of him in black and brown faces not been brought to the fore, Trudeau will lead Canadians to believe that he had no such “dark” experience in his past. 

Trudeau’s standing and reputation in the international community has been diminished by these blunders. In an arena where he was already viewed as a lightweight as seen in the 2018 salvos thrown by U.S. president Donald Trump, Trudeau’s blunders have thrown him further into the purgatory of global leadership. World leaders would certainly has a skewed view of him in light of the recent surfacing of black and brown faces. These revelations have done little to advance his cause as a champion of racial equality and social justice. Trudeau ought to have known better. 

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