Canadian leader Justin Trudeau’s campaign for national elections was hit on Wednesday by the publication of a yearbook photo showing him in ‘brownface’ makeup at a costume party in 2001.
Time magazine posted the photo, which it says was published in the yearbook from the West Point Grey Academy, a private school in British Columbia where Mr Trudeau worked as a teacher before entering politics.
The photo depicts him wearing a turban and robe, with dark makeup on his hands, face and neck.
Liberal Party spokesman Cameron Ahmad confirmed the photo is of Mr Trudeau. He says it was taken at the school’s annual dinner which had an Arabian Nights theme that year.
Exclusive: Justin Trudeau wore brownface at 2001 ‘Arabian Nights’ party while he taught at a private school, Canada's Liberal Party admits https://t.co/j3UobfYNIF
— TIME (@TIME) September 18, 2019
Mr Trudeau was dressed as a character from Aladdin.
Mr Trudeau, who launched his reelection campaign a week ago, said he should have known better.
“I’m pissed off at myself, I’m disappointed in myself,” he told reporters travelling with him on his campaign plane.
“I should have known better then but I didn’t, and I am deeply sorry for it,” Mr Trudeau said.
“I’m going to ask Canadians to forgive me for what I did. I shouldn’t have done that. I take responsibility for it. It was a dumb thing to do.”
“These are the situations I regret deeply,” he added.
The photo’s publication could spell more trouble for Mr Trudeau, who polls say is facing a serious challenge from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
Mr Trudeau has been admired by liberals around the world for his progressive policies in the Trump era, with Canada accepting more refugees than the United States.
His Liberal government has also strongly advocated free trade.
But the 47-year-old son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was already vulnerable following one of the biggest scandals in Canadian political history, which arose when Mr Trudeau’s former attorney general said he improperly pressured her to halt the criminal prosecution of a company in Quebec.