MP Asks Trudeau to Apologize to Truckers, Says He Wore Blackface ‘More Times Than He Can Remember’
19:21 GMT 02.02.2022 (Updated: 19:43 GMT 02.02.2022)
© REUTERS / PATRICK DOYLEFILE PHOTO: Trucks sit parked on Wellington Street near the Parliament Buildings as truckers and their supporters take part in a convoy to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates for cross-border truck drivers in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, January 29, 2022.
© REUTERS / PATRICK DOYLE
Tens of thousands of truckers and their supporters descended on the Canadian capital over the weekend to protest the Trudeau government’s vaccine mandates. The prime minister initially dismissed the convoy as a “small fringe minority,” but was later moved “to an undisclosed location” for security reasons.
Candice Bergen, the deputy leader of Canada’s Conservative Party, has lashed out at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over his claims that the Freedom Convoy truckers in Ottawa are a bunch of misfits spreading “hateful rhetoric,” accusing him of stoking tensions and dividing Canadians, and recalling his own past when it comes to the subject of racial insensitivity.
“All Canadians want to see a leader who will work to heal rifts, not further divide, a leader who will listen even to those voices he might not agree with, a leader who will work to understand, not dismiss, name-call and gaslight,” Bergen said, speaking before the House of Commons.
“I do get very defensive of Canadians who are outside today – patriotic, peace-loving Canadians who are called misogynist and racist by the prime minister. So again, I ask the prime minister, who may I remind this House wore blackface on more times than he can remember, apologize to the peace-loving, patriotic Canadians who are outside right now just asking to be heard – will he speak to them?” the deputy leader of the opposition said.
Trudeau has faced multiple scandals related to his inexplicable affinity for dressing in brownface and blackface as a young man. In 2019, Time published an image of him wearing brownface makeup in 2001 while he dressed up as Aladdin. Later the same year, Trudeau admitted to wearing blackface at a high school event, and media later published more footage showing him in blackface a third time. The prime minister eventually said that he could not remember how many times he’d worn blackface and brownface, and apologized for his actions, “knowing how racist and hurtful this type of thing was.”
Trudeau, the Liberal Party and most of Canada’s media have dismissed the truckers taking part in the ongoing anti-Covid vaccine mandate Freedom Convoy as a “small fringe minority of people” who do not “represent the views of Canadians.” Pro-government media including the CBC have highlighted instances of inappropriate behaviour by individuals involved in the protest –such as protesters dancing and drinking on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial, and others reportedly hurling “racial slurs” at volunteers at a local soup kitchen.
On Monday, Trudeau called the protests an “insult to truth,” vowing that his government would not be intimidated by those who “hurl abuse at small business workers and steal food from the homeless” or “give in to those who fly racist flags” or engage in vandalism and “dishonor the memory of our veterans.”
Trudeau went into self-imposed isolation last Thursday after being exposed to the coronavirus. The self-isolation was meant to last five days, but on Monday the prime minister announced that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and would continue to work remotely. It’s now unclear when he will end his self-isolation, but the truckers who have braved hundreds of kilometers of icy roads and freezing temperatures have promised to stay in Ottawa until their demands to end vaccine mandates end.
31 January 2022, 00:19 GMT
On Monday, Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly warned that “all options are on the table” to bring the truckers’ protest to an end. Sloly indicated that so far, there have been “no riots, no injuries, no deaths” from the protests. “That is a measure of success for any jurisdiction in Canada, and quite frankly anywhere in the world,” he said.
The Freedom Convoy’s organizers have stressed all along that their protest will remain peaceful, and have urged supporters to report any suspicious persons or activities to police to prevent potential provocations. Organizers also maintain that they are not against vaccines per se – but want Covid vaccinations to be a matter of individual choice. Some have also expressed concerns that the vaccine passport QR codes handed out to those who have been given the jab could be used as a means to keep tabs on Canadians at all times.
30 January 2022, 02:50 GMT