Brownface photo, SNC-Lavalin: At Wilson-Raybould rally, Trudeau looms large
Ian Holliday, CTV News Vancouver
Published Wednesday, September 18, 2019 4:17PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 19, 2019 7:33AM PDT
Justin Trudeau was always going to be a major topic of conversation at the rally independent candidates Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott held in the former's Vancouver-Granville riding Wednesday night.
Even if he hadn't admitted just hours earlier to wearing brownface to a party in Vancouver in 2001, the Liberal leader was bound to come up.
Attendees lining up at the Hellenic Community Centre to watch the former Liberal cabinet ministers now running as independents take the stage described themselves as past Liberal voters, but not Trudeau maniacs.
"I would say I was caught up in getting the conservatives out, at the time," said Erika Thompson, describing her 2015 vote. "I wasn't dis-inspired by Trudeau, but I was definitely voting on the goal of ending a conservative mandate, hoping that we would not have first-past-the-post anymore and we wouldn't have to be making those crappy decisions."
Asked about the photo of Trudeau published by Time magazine Wednesday, in which the future Prime Minister -- then a 29-year-old teacher at West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver -- is seen wearing dark make-up on his face, neck and hands and wearing a turban, Thompson was unequivocal.
"It's disappointing and there's no excuse for it," she said.
"He would have been 30 or so, at the time," said David Knights Cowling, who attended Wednesday's rally with Thompson. "He's old enough. It's appalling."
Trudeau apologized for the photo in a press conference aboard the Liberal Party campaign plane just a few hours after Time's story went public. The Liberal leader said he was "pissed off" at his past self for the costume he wore.
He also acknowledged that he had worn blackface -- though he did not use that term -- another time, while performing in a high school talent show.
Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period, tweeted a photo later in the evening that sources confirmed to him showed this earlier instance of Trudeau in blackface.
Inside at the rally, Wilson-Raybould talked about the need for independence in Parliament, a major theme of her campaign that echoes the stance she took as attorney general in Trudeau's government. Her insistence that Trudeau's contact with her about SNC-Lavalin was an inappropriate attempt to exert political influence an independent prosecution ultimately led to her dismissal from the Liberal party.
Knights Cowling told CTV News Vancouver he felt Wilson-Raybould was mistreated in the SNC-Lavalin affair.
"I stand behind everything she did in trying to bring this to light," he said.
Hailey Hunter, who was attending the rally with Knights Cowling and Thompson, drew an explicit contrast between Trudeau's apology for the photo on Wednesday and the earlier SNC-Lavalin affair.
"It is interesting, though, that he's willing to apologize for something like that and not for something as large as SNC-Lavalin," she said.
"I think that makes sense to me," Thompson replied. "Because there's no getting out of what happened today. Like, the best route is to apologize. With SNC-Lavalin it's a big, complicated issue, most people don't pay attention and if you never admit to it, most people never hear about it."