By: Kelly Grounds, Peak Associate
In mid-September, Times Magazine broke a story that included a photograph of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in brownface at a school event. In the following days, two more images depicting Trudeau in blackface were released to the media. Soon after the scandal Trudeau issued an apology statement, where he acknowledged the racism embedded in the photos and asked the public to forgive him.
But the idea of asking for forgiveness seems almost hypocritical given that days before the scandal broke, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer faced backlash from Liberals after he said that he would stand by Conservative candidates who had troubling pasts if they apologized. Yet now, the leader of the Liberal party is asking his own party, along with the rest of Canada, to do just that. So, should we?
This is not the first major scandal to hit the Liberals as a result of Trudeau’s poor judgement. Under his leadership, the government bought the Trans-Mountain Pipeline. Trudeau was at the center of the SNC-Lavalin affair, which is still creating waves. We also can’t forget about the India trip which wound up costing the government over a million dollars.
Each of these scandals has attacked some aspect of the image that Trudeau cultivated during the 2015 election. The man who we elected was a feminist who was also environment, pro-mulitculturalism, and looking to promote progressive policies. In the four years that he has been in office, this image has been slowly corroded, one scandal at a time.
The new question is not so much one of forgiveness but one of trust. The brownface scandal speaks to the slipping image of a man who once was, among many things, someone who many voters felt could be trusted to respect all Canadians. Can voters say with the same confidence going into the October election that this same man holds that respect for all Canadians, regardless of race? Can we trust this man to work to fight climate change after his government bought the Trans-Mountain Pipeline? Can we trust him to keep the promises that he will make during the lead up to the election this time around?
The federal election is rapidly approaching. So do we take the gamble that Trudeau will keep these promises because we don’t want to vote Conservative?
This isn’t the only option. The Canadian political system is a multi-party system. This means that, unlike our southern neighbors, voters have more than two options. We have variety and more than one left-leaning party. Maybe this is the time to finally look to the other parties and give them a chance this time.