Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is currently facing backlash for wearing Blackface and he is refusing to state how many times he has worn the makeup in his life.
Trudeau was present for a town hall meeting in Saskatoon Thursday night and was hit with questions about his past with blackface in front of a crowd of his supporters.
“Earlier today you were questioned about how many times you appeared in blackface or brownface – I’ll make it easy, is it possible to round to the nearest five?” a man questioned at the town hall.
Trudeau would respond not with an answer, instead stating it was a serious matter.
“I’m not going to make light of the situation, I don’t think it’s something we should be making light of,” Trudeau said according to the Daily Mail.
Images of Trudeau in makeup began to emerge this week, the first from 2001 showing him in brownface at an Arabian Nights party when he was a teacher. Two other photos would emerge, one in Blackface, dressed as Harry Belafonte and singing “Day-O” in the 1980s.
The third photo was reported by Global News TV in Canada showing Trudeau again in Blackface with his hands in the air and sticking out his tongue in the early 1990s.
“Far too many people in this country face intolerance and discrimination on a daily basis, and what I did was inexcusable and wrong, and hurt a lot of people who consider me to be an ally,” Trudeau said. “I am deeply deeply sorry.”
The timing for the images is far from optimal for Trudeau as he is set to face Conservative leaders in next month’s elections who have already zeroed in on his scandal.
“I am deeply troubled by what this means to Canada. Young kids are not just going to see just one or two but multiple images of the prime minister mocking their lived reality,” said Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh and Left-wing New Democrat Party leader.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer chimed in, stating Trudeau is “not fit to govern this country.”
Trudeau has not signaled that he will resign, nor has there been a call to do so from his Liberal Party. Many members of his party, including non-white officials, have supported him.
“I think the real measure of the man, and I think the thing we need to be talking about, is all the amazing things we have done for diversity,” said Greg Fergus, a Black Liberal member of Parliament.
In his career, Trudeau is known for being a supporter of multiculturalism and immigration, bringing diversity to the positions of his cabinet and naming Harjit Sajjan, a Liberal who is Sikh, Canada’s first Sikh defense chief in 2015.