AceShowbiz - Justin Trudeau has faced backlash after an old photo surfaced showing him wearing brownface makeup during a 2001 private school party. Speaking with reporters aboard a plane with him, the Canadian Prime Minister has addressed the controversial picture which was first unearthed by TIME amid his re-election campaign.
"In 2001 when I was a teacher when I was in Vancouver, I attended an end of the year gala where the theme was Arabian nights. I dressed up in an Aladdin costume and put makeup on," he explained the picture, before expressing his regret, "I shouldn't have done that. I should have known better but I didn't and I'm really sorry."
Admitting his mistake, the 47-year-old added, "There are people who have made mistakes in this life and we make decisions on what they actually do or what they did on a case by case basis. I deeply regret that I did that and I should have known better but I didn't." When asked if he thought the photograph was racist, he said, "Yes it was. I didn't consider it racist at the time, but now we know better."
The photo came as he just launched his re-election campaign and is in a close battle with conservative Andrew Sheer. Asked about the timing, he said, "Obviously I regret that I did it. It's not about timing, it's about something I shouldn't have done."
When asked if he would resign, he dodged answering it by deliberately saying, "I take responsibility for my decision to do that. It was something I didn't think was racist at the time and now I recognize it was something racist to do and I am deeply sorry."
Admitting it was "a dumb thing to do," Trudeau said he's "disappointed at myself. I'm pissed off at myself for having done it." He also vowed to "to continue the work to fight intolerance and discrimination" despite his wrongdoing in the past.
Trudeau's apology comes shortly after he was criticized for wearing brownface makeup. Canadian politician and leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May, tweeted, "I am deeply shocked by the racism shown in the photograph of Justin Trudeau. He must apologize for the harm done and commit to learning and appreciating the requirement to model social justice leadership at all levels of government. In this matter he has failed."
The National Council of Canadian Muslims' (NCCM) Executive Director Mustafa Farooq said, "Seeing the Prime Minister in brownface/blackface is deeply saddening. The wearing of blackface/brownface is reprehensible, and hearkens back to a history of racism and an Orientalist mythology which is unacceptable."
The organization has since accepted Trudeau's apology, updating its account with a post which read, "We thank the Prime Minister for his apology. Prime Minister Trudeau's apology came less than an hour after NCCM called on him to apologize for wearing blackface/brownface."