Calgary’s mayor provided his detailed thoughts about Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s brownface and blackface moments in an op-ed.
Naheed Nenshi posted the op-ed in Saturday’s Washington Post, titled “I’m Calgary’s Muslim mayor. We can learn from Trudeau’s ‘brownface’ moment.”
Nenshi opens his writing, “When I saw the picture, it was like a sucker punch.”
“Let’s dispense with the obvious: Yes, it was a stupid thing to do, as much in 2001 as now,” he writes. “No, he’s not a racist.”
Videos and photos were made public last week of three instances in which Trudeau appeared in brownface or blackface in the past, including a video obtained by Global News showing the Liberal leader in blackface in the early 1990s.
“What I did hurt them, hurt people who shouldn’t have to face intolerance and discrimination because of their identity, Trudeau told reporters after the third video was made public.
“This is something that I deeply, deeply regret.”
The Calgary mayor said while Trudeau should have known better, he shouldn’t resign over the incidents.
“He should be judged on the totality of his record and whether Canadians believe in his ability to do good in the future,” Nenshi wrote.
The mayor added the Trudeau incidents highlight all Canadians’ need to have important conversations.
“Canadians cannot stand on moral high ground calling out leaders for offensive things they did, years ago, if we’re not also willing to stand up to the racist and discriminatory behaviour that is directly in front of our faces in 2019,” he wrote.
Nenshi referred to the law in Quebec that bans some public sector employees from wearing religious symbols during work hours.
“I, as a Muslim man, could hold any job I want, but under this law, a Muslim woman who covers with a headscarf cannot,” he wrote.
He noted national leaders have expressed disapproval of the law but have not done anything about it.
On Sunday, Trudeau did not directly respond to the op-ed but said he will try to regain Canadians’ trust.
“I have been very forthright with Canadians on this issue and I will continue to be,” Trudeau said.
“As a country we need to continue to work to diversity, working to fight racism and intolerance, and as an individual I have to keep having really important conversations about choices made in the past and about how I earn once again the trust of Canadians that I hurt.”
Nenshi concluded the column, “Let’s use Justin Trudeau’s old blunders to think about the links between individual action and real justice.