OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Canadian leader Justin Trudeau’s campaign for national elections was hit Wednesday by the publication of a yearbook photo showing him in brownface makeup at a costume party in 2001.
Time magazine posted the photo, which it says was published in the yearbook from the West Point Grey Academy, a private school in British Columbia where Trudeau worked as a teacher before entering politics. The photo depicts Trudeau wearing a turban and robe, with dark makeup on his hands, face and neck.
Liberal Party spokesman Cameron Ahmad confirmed the photo is of Trudeau. He says it was taken at the school’s annual dinner which had an “Arabian Nights” theme that year. Trudeau was dressed as a character from “Aladdin.”
Trudeau, who launched his reelection campaign exactly one week ago, said he should have known better.
“I’m pissed off at myself, I’m disappointed in myself,” Trudeau told reporters traveling with him on his campaign plane.
The photo’s publication could spell more trouble for Trudeau, who polls say is facing a serious challenge from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
Trudeau has been admired by liberals around the world for his progressive policies in the Trump era, with Canada accepting more refugees than the United States. His Liberal government has also strongly advocated free trade.
But the 47-year-old son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was already vulnerable following one of the biggest scandals in Canadian political history, which arose when Trudeau’s former attorney general said he improperly pressured her to halt the criminal prosecution of a company in Quebec. Trudeau has said he was standing up for jobs.